Sunday, July 15 , 2018, 4:31 pm | Fair 77º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: Plan Ahead for Seafaring Fun This Summer

From whale and bird watching to sport fishing and snorkeling, opportunities abound in the Santa Barbara Channel

Great weather is here for the many months ahead, so give some serious thought to outdoor plans for this summer.

Some things are fun to do on the spur of the moment, such as picnics at the park or in a local creek bed, scenic drives, beach trips and long walks. Other things are best planned because they require a complex plan or maybe even reservations.

Let’s concentrate on those things we should mark on our calendar and plan for well in advance, and let’s further refine our plan to ocean-related fun. I can’t help it. I am a sea captain.

Whale Watching

Giant blue whales (the biggest critter ever to live on Earth) feed on krill in the Santa Barbara Channel. They are joined by greater numbers of humpback whales frolicking and showing off whenever the mood strikes.

The best viewing areas are well out into the Channel, so this requires a longer commitment of time (several hours at least). With the islands on one side and the mainland coast on the other, this cruise through the Santa Barbara Channel is a wonderful sightseeing opportunity that often includes visits from large pods of dolphin (my personal favorite critter).

Whale-watching opportunities include private boats (if you have your own boat or go out with a boater), open-party trips (offering good price/value ratio) and private charters (for the ultimate experience).

Bird Watching

The Santa Barbara Channel offers a wide range of bird-watching opportunities, including shorebirds, pelagic species and island birds — one of which is the cherished island scrub jay. This very special bird can be found only on the Channel Islands, and often can be spotted from a boat if you know just the right spots. I do.

Other fun birds are found along the water’s edge at the islands. One of my favorites is the oyster catcher. Somehow I can’t imagine an oyster catcher needing to be a very fast bird. I mean, have you ever clocked an oyster on the move?

In mid-Channel, it’s fun to watch pelagic seabirds earn their living from the sea. Some are unique and wonderful to watch, while others look like just another type of seagull. To get a bunch of sea birds to flock around a boat, appropriate chum is needed. The best thing to bring along is a huge bag of popcorn. Many of the birds will come in close for the best viewing, as they vie for popcorn tossed onto the water.

Sport Fishing

The crews of our private-charter boat or an open-party sportboat can provide all of your rods, reels, tackle, bait and even fishing licenses. Just bring food and drinks, a jacket and a camera. You can catch-and-release, or the crew will clean your fish.

Warm days are spent in pursuit of calico bass, sand bass, halibut, yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, mackerel, tuna, thresher and mako sharks, white seabass, sheephead, ocean whitefish, sculpin, cabezon, rockfish, lingcod and giant bat rays. Fisheries regulations are constantly evolving. It is mandatory to know which fish are in season and what the regulations are at any given time. When fishing on a charter boat or open-party boat, the crew will know the rules. If you are on a private boat, carefully check the Department of Fish & Game website for the latest. Just click on the area you intend to fish and up pops the regulations.

Diving and Snorkeling

The mainland coast and enchanting Channel Islands feature many reefs, shelves, wrecks, drop-offs, coves and kelp forests to explore. Our local dive shops can set you up with the gear, and charter boats or open-party boats can run out to the best spots.

There are also plenty of good spots for a beach dive. Bring along a spear gun or hand-spear, if you would like to bring back some dinner. Lobster can be caught by hand during the open season from early autumn through late winter. A fascinating array of undersea flora and fauna can be enjoyed at any season.

— 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >