Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 8:38 am | Fair 44º


Captain’s Log: Last Call for Summer Fishing

Whether a half-day or full-day outing, head out on the water while the gettin' is still good

Summer is drawing to a close, and many of us feel that we haven’t got in enough fishing days — or no fishing days at all. It’s best to remedy that sad situation right away, while we have the best fishing of the year available to us.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Jump on your boat, a friend’s boat, charter a private boat or buy a ticket and go on an open-party sport boat. Whatever it takes to get out on the water, enjoy a day and maybe bring home some fresh — the freshest possible — fish dinner.

Got kids? Plan a half-day or ¾-day near-shore outing offering plenty of action of small to medium fish, including chocolate bass, sugar bass, calicos, sand bass, ocean whitefish, cabezon, sheephead, lingcod and a few others. Fast-paced action without a long boat ride is perfect for kids or elderly folks.

If you desire a greater challenge and bigger fish, plan a full-day trip. The Channel Islands are a great destination when weather allows (spotting whales and dolphins along the way is a distinct possibility), and when the winds blow up high seas out there, a day of fishing the coast is the remedy.

Wacky water temperatures are creating challenges for even professional skippers, but here is a general rundown of the action that awaits.

Catches of white seabass are coming from Eagles Nest Bechers Bay (also a great spot for halibut this month), east of Rodes Reef, Cueva Valdez, Chinese Harbor, Yellowbanks and the backside of Anacapa Island. Squid have been showing in sufficient volume to jig up some bait on many days. Candy bait is best, but the fish also forage on sardines, anchovies and their perennial favorite, small mackerel. A six-inch mackerel is as good a live bait as an angler can come by, no matter whether you are fishing for WSB, yellowtail, halibut or big calico bass. White jigs are accounting for a fair share of the WSB being boated because the jigs imitate spawned-out dying squid.

August and September prospects for halibut look promising. Some great flatties are coming from Bechers Bay and across the gap at Christy’s Ranch. Look for action off of Smugglers Cove, in Chinese Harbor and nearby Prisoners Harbor, and also at Eagles Nest, where halibut are being hooked by folks targeting WSB.

Meanwhile, along the mainland coast, productive areas to work for halibut are below Port Hueneme, off the Ventura River mouth, along the Rincon (especially near Rock Island), off of Padero Lane, Goleta Beach, inside Naples Reef and near Gaviota Beach.

Another up-and-coming source of action is barracuda. Reports are coming in now, and skippers expect the numbers to increase substantially in the coming weeks. The hottest action is well out behind Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands, and at the eastern end of the Santa Barbara Channel from Point Mugu to Point Dume; however, they are foraging westward toward Santa Barbara.

“Longtails” (thresher shark) are in our waters seeking out the right combination of feed and water conditions, preferring milky green water with plenty of roving baitballs. T-shark anglers are finding threshers off of Rock Island near La Conchita, near Goleta and farther up the coast off the campgrounds. While drifting with live mackerels continues to be a successful technique, numerous boaters are having luck slow-trolling the large mackerel pattern Rapalas.

Calico bassers just love summertime when the water temps are up and the bass are actively foraging at kelp beds, shallow reefs, boiler rocks and sheer cliffs. At boiler rocks and cliffs along the Channel Islands, casting lures has been the hot ticket for those who can cast to within a foot of the structure and then retrieve slowly. Along the mainland coast, kelp beds and shallow reef zones have produced the best action.

Private Charter Fishing Services

» WaveWalker Charters: Capt. David Bacon, 805.064.2046

» Finaddict Charters: Capt. Jim Klein, 805.896.0541

» Santa Barbara Sport Fishing: Capt. Tony Vultaggio, 805.637.3425

Open-Party Fishing Service

» Stardust Sportfishing: Capt. Jason Diamond, 805.963.3564

— 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.

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