Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 7:42 pm | Fair 73º


Captain’s Log: Early, Summer-Like Fishing Action on Tap

At a time of year when we are usually relegated to rockfish and lingcod, plus an occasional halibut or white seabass, our fishing options this season are staggering. For that, we are blessed and striving to keep up with the roving bites.

Rockfish season opened March 1 in our Southern Management Zone (south of Point Conception) and plenty of folks have been out sampling the good fishing, using Lingslayers and Lingsluggers (available at Hook, Line & Sinker in Santa Barbara) for lingcod and jigs as well as double dropper loop rigs for rockfish.

With increased allowable depth (360 feet instead of 300 feet), new underwater vistas of opportunity open up. Structure spots between 300 and 360 feet have not been fished in many years.

This year finds us in the grip of El Niño and we’ve got fishing like we haven’t seen since the last El Niño. An early onslaught of halibut is one example.

Last Sunday, Randel Graham and his son, Sage, were bounce-balling at Santa Cruz Island and caught five halibut, topped by a 50-pound monster flattie. Just a few days earlier, there was a 38-pounder caught at Santa Rosa Island. Surf fishers are getting halibut in the surf zone with Lucky Craft Lures all along the mainland coast.

Yellowtail bit like wild dogs all winter long, down at the Los Angeles/Ventura County line. White seabass tied on the feed bag up the coast off of Hollister Ranch. In February, hordes of bonito showed up off of Santa Barbara in the vicinity of the row of four oil rigs.

Mackerel have been so thick it is sometimes difficult to get a bait down past them to fish for something bigger. That’s not a bad thing because mackerel make great baits for bigger fish.

This is a year that will go down in our memories as the unbelievably good old days. Most subsequent years will not be able to measure up to this one — not because the fish are going away, but because conditions have aligned to bring fish to our doorstep. Our fisheries management regulations are robust and wise enough to take all of this into account and manage for sustainability so that we can go catch our dinner and have healthy fish populations.

So, go out and fish every chance you can create this year. Make some memories.

— 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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