Monday, February 19 , 2018, 4:38 pm | A Few Clouds 57º


Captain’s Log: Pull White Seabass Through Weather Windows

Don't let the wind keep you from fishing in seabass season.


“Capt. Tiffany Vague of the WaveWalker is all smiles after hefting a healthy white seabass caught locally. (Capt. David Bacon photo)

The wind blows for weeks on end at the Channel Islands during April and May, yet there are brief lulls in the weather when boats can make it out to the islands. Limits of white seabass have been among the results lately. Until June 15, limits mean one per angler. After June 15 the limit rises back to three per angler. While that seems like a low number, successful anglers are happily taking home a heavy load of thick tasty fillets to feed the family. You won’t buy fish this fresh in a fish market.

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

The more southerly islands in the Southern California Bight have been kicking out good numbers of white seabass for some time now. Early season action centered around Catalina Island. The northern Channel Islands are next to become the epicenter of white seabass activity. The season should last through the summer and perhaps well into autumn.

Getting in on the action is easy. Just call up your local fishing landing and reserve a spot on an overnight boat that plans to target the big croakers (white seabass are members of the croaker family of fishes). Alternately, call up a private charter service and book a trip. If you fish on a private boat, you might benefit from some pointers from a seasoned charter captain.

On my charters, when scouting for a spot to fish, I look for concentrations of natural bait in the water, such as squid, anchovies and sardines. When groups of birds dive on a spot, move a short ways and repeatedly dive again and then move on, it means that predatory fish — including white seabass — are chasing small baitballs up to the surface where the birds have a quick shot at them before the action shifts. These are good fishing opportunities.

White seabass have an affinity for white jigs with a whole squid pinned on the hook. Work a white jig gently up and down just above the bottom. Set up another rig with a whole squid pinned on the hook of a dropper loop (a weight on the end of the line with a hook in a loop about two feet up from the weight). Live squid is nice to have, but it is not necessary. White seabass also eat the dead and dying spawned-out squid near the seafloor, so imparting a little action to a dead squid will often draw a strike.

One more productive technique is to fish a whole squid, anchovy or sardine on a bait hook with a sliding sinker right above the hook. The size of the sinker is important because it should be just heavy enough to take the bait down to the depth where schools of bait are found, or white seabass are metered. That way, the hook bait is right where the predators are foraging. The depth of the action, and the rate of the boat’s drift will determine what size sliding sinker is necessary. If a bait is not quickly getting deep enough, then quickly bring it back in and put on a heavier weight. You won’t catch fish if your bait isn’t in the right place.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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