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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 8:48 am | Fair 41º


Captain’s Log: A Little Dab Will Do Ya

The smallest member of the halibut family, sanddabs are plentiful off the Santa Barbara coast, easy enough to catch, and are as tasty as any fish that swims.

“It’s just sort of a wiggle and a bounce on your rod tip. Then you might as well wait for a second wiggle, and reel up two of the tasty lil darlings. Well ...  they ain’t exactly related to a tuna, when it comes to fighting ability, but they sure do taste good.

"Once at home, fry 'em up real quick in peanut oil, and there’s nuthin’ like 'em!”

That’s the way I sometimes sum up sanddab fishing to curious passengers aboard my charterboat, WaveWalker.

They are dependable, voracious and available year-round from local waters. There is no limit on sanddabs, and it does require a few of them to make a big meal for a hungry person.

Finding sanddabs can be interesting, but once you find one of them, you have probably found a boatload, since they seem to congregate in substantial numbers. Any flat sand or mud bottom area in 150 feet or deeper, along the SoCal or CenCal coast is worth a try.

There are very few rules pertaining to sanddab fishing. You may use as many hooks as you wish, and you may keep as many as you want to deal with.

Squid strips make the best baits. Run a hook twice through the end of a squid strip so a couple inches of the strip are left to undulate in the current. That’s what sanddabs seem to find appetizing.

Drop the rig to the bottom and immediately take up the slack. It is important to fish right on the bottom because these fish lie on the bottom just like their big cousins, the California halibut.

Wait for a couple of wiggles and bounces on your rod tip, and reel up your catch. Unhook them, check your bait and drop back down to do it all over again. It is frequently possible to load up on sanddabs in short order.

— 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. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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