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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 5:48 am | Fair 44º


Captain’s Log: Fall Fishing Forecast

To make the most of your outings, follow the ebb and flow of autumn changes at sea

Fishing seasons and fishing opportunities change rapidly in the latter half of autumn, and recreational anglers need a synopsis to help schedule and maximize fishing trips. Here’s the scoop.

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

On our local saltwater scene, a big upcoming change is the closing of lingcod season at the end of this month. Lingcod are the 800-pound gorillas (figuratively speaking) of the groundfish clan. They are big (must be longer than 24 inches to keep, and I’ve caught them to more than 40 pounds), they are ferocious (they behave like ill-tempered dinosaurs, earning my nickname for them — “lingasaur”) and they are tasty (ranking right up there with halibut and white seabass).

Need another reason to go target lingcod during the latter half of this month? Well, there’s a robust population of lingcod right here in the Santa Barbara Channel. Go get ‘em!

Strangely enough, summer-style fishing is not yet over. Good catches of bonito continue to come from waters surrounding Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands. At times, we hook them locally near our oil rigs about five miles off the Santa Barbara coast. Southern Ventura County is another productive area for these members of the tuna family.

Also on tap is good fishing for one of the prettiest — and scrappiest — fish in our local waters: calico bass. We are hooking them in around boiler rocks at the Channel Islands and in kelp beds along our mainland coast. Near these bass spots are flat sandy areas where halibut tend to camouflage themselves and ambush smaller fish. Drift fishing or bounce-balling are favored techniques for targeting halibut.

Much of our fishing activity for the remainder of the year will target groundfish such as red snapper, copper rockfish, bocaccio, chocolate bass, sugar bass, sheephead, ocean whitefish, sculpin and cabezon. All of these are quite tasty and healthy table fare.

On the freshwater scene, good fishing and wonderful weather can generally be found at area lakes, including Cachuma and Casitas. It’s getting late in the season for bass, and most have moved out of the shallows and onto deeper structures or ravines, but avid bassers are still targeting and catching them. Catfish are available in the deep river channels and canyon bottoms as well as the upper shallow ends of the lakes below inflows, especially after rain runoff brings bonus food to them.

Trout fishers are having a blast now that seasonal trout plants have begun. Planting hopefully will continue through the winter, budgets allowing. Shore anglers have their best chance of the year during late autumn and winter as stocked trout mill about looking for food. Good choices are floating baits, salmon eggs, worms and shiny spinners. Also look for planted trout in area streams and rivers, especially near campgrounds.

Plenty of good opportunities for autumn fishing opportunities remain. Spend some great outdoors time with family and friends.

— 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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