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 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 >