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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 9:06 am | Overcast 49º


Captain’s Log: Fishing Seasons Open with Tasty Opportunities

Springtime bounties of lingcod and Chinook salmon await anglers

Fishing season openers promise epic battles and delicious dinners, with two major seasons opening in local waters this week — lingcod on Thursday and Chinook salmon on Saturday. Both fish will test your mettle, and both fish will do you proud on the dinner table. Fortunately, both tend to run big enough to allow you to invite guests for dinner.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

If you’re a confident angler, you might even send out dinner invitations before the fishing trip. There is always the option of stopping by the fish market on your way home, if your luck remains ashore. But wild fresh fish, caught just hours before dinner, can’t be beat for taste and texture.

Rockfish season has been open for a month now, and we know the fishing is good. Add lingcod and salmon to the mix, and fishing opportunities beckon strongly. It’s time to take to the seas, armed with rods, reels, tackle and the spirit of adventure.

Lingcod hold to structure such as reefs, ledges and wrecks. They particularly enjoy eating live baits and attacking jigs worked just above their lairs, where they wait to ambush a meal. Effective rigs include double dropper loops, reverse dropper loops (baited with live baits) or a jig with a teaser hook (baited with live bait or artificial curly -tail grub) on a dropper loop 18 inches above the jig. Need help with those rigs? Go fishing first with a professional or an experienced friend to learn the fine points of fishing for success.

The important thing is to fish close (within a couple of feet) of the structure zones they call home. We catch them along the mainland coast, but the best fishing is at a mid-Channel seamount and the reef zones surrounding the Channel Islands.

Salmon are generally caught by trolling or mooching. In our area, trolling is by far the most common method. It is a complex method involving trolling at just the right speed through water to impart the perfect action to the terminal tackle consisting of downriggers or weight releases, dodger or flasher blades, lures or baitholders.

Most salmon are caught along the mainland coast, which means we can fish even on days when the vigorous weather of the Santa Barbara Channel makes it probably unwise and certainly uncomfortable to make the crossing to the islands. Some of our best areas are Gaviota, Goleta, off the Santa Barbara Lighthouse, near the rows of oil rigs, Carpinteria and off Rock Island near La Conchita.

A springtime bonanza awaits. Gather up your family or call some fun-seeking friends. Let’s go fishing!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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