Monday, July 16 , 2018, 6:14 pm | Partly Cloudy 75º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: White Seabass Have Become Quite the Catch

Even folks with small boats can target the big fish around the Channel Islands

Boaters are returning to harbors in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, holding up huge white seabass for people to admire. Seeing such a sight lights the fuse of red-blooded fisherfolk.

White seabass are a dream fish. Many anglers have never caught a legal one (longer than 28 inches), but this year, chances are good of boating one more than 30 pounds, more than 40 pounds and even bigger.

Our white seabass comeback success story is profound. We didn’t need to close portions of the ocean to fishing (Marine Protected Areas). I see MPAs as actually detrimental to fisheries management and to the fishing community and businesses. We studied white seabass and created a special management program (a great story in itself). We can do that for any species that needs help. We pour ourselves into good works like that.

I’m happy to report that good catches of white seabass are coming from along the mainland coast as well as from the Channel Islands. This is great because folks with small boats can target the big fish. It isn’t necessary to have a bigger boat capable of crossing the Santa Barbara Channel. If you don’t have a boat or a friend with a boat, you can board an open-party sportfishing boat or charter a boat.

Choosing your time to fish is also important. I prefer to make seabass my first target of the day because they tend to bite best early. That is by no means an absolute, so you don’t necessarily have to give up on them early. Moon phases affect white seabass more than many fish. The days surrounding a full moon and new moon are considered prime days to seek seabass.

Pick your time carefully when you can, but by all means, fish for them whenever your schedule allows. After all, this is supposed to be our recreation!

Tackle & Technique

On my charter trips, I set up each of my passengers with one of four rigs.

One is a reverse dropper loop (hook on the end and a weight suspended from a loop up the line from the hook). Another is a classic dropper loop (weight on the bottom and a hook free-swinging in a long loop above the weight). A third rig is a sliding sinker rig (line through a sliding sinker of sufficient weight to get the bait down to the feeding fish, and tied to a size 2/0 or 3/0 hook). The final rig is a white jig with a couple whole squid pinned to the hooks, and fished by casually jigging up and down above the sea floor.

— 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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