If you have been reading my weekly columns, you already know that seasonal fishing opportunities are stacking up like hot rods at the starting line. The rockfish/lingcod opener on March 1 fired up our fishing engine. Then it went into gear with a fine start to our salmon season in April. All of that is still going on, but now we’re double-clutching and ripping up the road with catches of halibut, leopard shark and white seabass.
Along the mainland coast near Santa Barbara, little coves are filling with leopard shark. They are such a gorgeous and graceful critter, and it is beautiful to stand in the water and watch them swim around. Anglers are happy because they can catch them right in the surf on light tackle. An average leopard shark may run 40 inches and a big one can be 5 feet.
The surf zone is also filling with halibut. The smaller males are showing up first and beach casters are catching plenty of them with Lucky Craft 110 Flash Minnow lures, from Gaviota to the Rincon. Some are legal (over 22 inches) and many must be released, but they are the precursors to the main event when the big females show up.
Trust the young males to know when the females are due to show up. That works well in most any species.
At the Channel Islands, the whole process is already well under way and some serious halibut are being caught at Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. Bounce-balling is proving to be very effective in the coves and bays. Drift fishing with live baits is also effective.
White seabass went on the bite down south at Catalina Island a few weeks ago, and we knew it wouldn’t be long before we got into them here. That time has come in a big way, with a solid showing around the east end of Santa Cruz Island. They are chasing squid spawns and are in an eating mood. Soon the bite will begin to build at Santa Rosa Island and then along the mainland coast.
We are now in the fun part of the fishing season. Get in on it. Stop by Hook, Line & Sinker, at 4010 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, to learn the latest and get your fishing gear. Good fishing advice is dispensed free of charge.
— 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.