Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 7:40 pm | Fair 68º


Captain’s Log: Reeling in Red Giants Aboard the WaveWalker

We were fishing the 6-Mile recently on my charter boat, WaveWalker, when an angler’s rod bent double and he stiffened up to assume his fighting stance. That usually means a lingcod, which once they reach a size sufficient to give that kind of battle I call a “lingasaur.”

The action on the rod tip wasn’t right for a lingcod, though, so I watched it closely and decided it had to be a huge red (red snapper or vermilion rockfish).

I sure was right. As it came to color from the deep, it was huge for a red. We hauled it over the rail and weighed it in at more than 9 pounds. For a red, that is a monster.

Everyone aboard hooted, hollered and celebrated the great catch. We put it in the fish box, where it visually dominated the other very nice-size rockfish we had caught thus far. It was a good day of fishing, and these folks were going to be enjoying an awesome dinner of the freshest fish possible (catching it themselves and eating it the same day).

My deckhand, Capt. Tiffany Vague, retied the feller’s frayed leader, bait his hooks and down he dropped again. Once his rig reached the rocky seafloor, nearly 300 feet down, he didn’t wait more than a minute before his rod again bent deeply. I chuckled softly because it acted like another big red.

After several minutes of hauling up the heavy fish, another huge red came over the rail, and it looked to be the identical twin of the first. That was a truly amazing double catch, and I told the man, “When we get back to dock, go immediately and buy a lottery ticket because this is your day!”

Our groundfish are very well managed, and we have healthy, plentiful populations of red snapper, bocaccio, lingcod and other groundfish. Cowcod populations are growing stronger and expanding their territory into shallower water.

Biologists tell me we have enjoyed multiple years of successful groundfish recruitment. We have been in a prolonged cool-water cycle, and this is to be expected. When we cycle around to warm-water years, other fish — calico bass, for example — will have good recruitment years.

This is old school knowledge from people who have seen it all cycle around for many, many decades. I always listen closely to people who have made their living from the sea for more years than most grant-money scientists have been tying their shoes. I value experience.

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

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