Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 7:23 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 54º


Captain’s Log: End-of-Year Fishing Opportunities

Capt. David Bacon with a hefty rockfish and a tasty lingcod, caught along the coast near Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Capt. David Bacon with a hefty rockfish and a tasty lingcod, caught along the coast near Santa Barbara. (Courtesy photo)

I feel like a carny crier: “Git yer red hot rockfish right here, before you miss the boat!”

The last rockfish boat of the season departs Dec. 31. After that, the tasty bottom-dwelling denizens are off-limits until March 1.

Before the end of the year (just days away), we can fish waters to 360 feet deep where big reds, chuckleheads, bocaccio, starries, rosies and other rockfish take savage whacks at squid strip baits, live baits, — gulp! baits and small to medium jigs.

It isn’t necessary to fish that deep, because rocky reefs as shallow as 60 feet deep can produce good catches. Generally speaking, the deeper you go. the better the catch.

Stowing red rockfish in the freezer during the last week of December feels like the right thing to do to prepare for winter.

Pick a good weather window when the seas are flat as a flapjack and head out to the deep reefs and rocky pinnacles nearest your home harbor.

Our mainland coast has numerous ledges and reefs as do the waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

You will, I hope, be hauling in some big ol’ “lingasaurs” while you’re at it. These are truly prized fish because of their size, the way they fight and how nicely they grace a dinner table.

They may look like a sea monster, and that is actually a pretty good description of them because of their teeth and nasty disposition.

The moon phase right at the transition into the new year looks decent for white seabass action. It would be great to end the year or begin the new year with a successful day of white-seabass fishing.

On the way out to your favorite destination, keep a sharp lookout for commercial squid fleet light boats and seiners. They are usually near good squid marks and they can be your beacon marking the way to the fish.

For early January fishing trips, go short (to borrow a term from football). Much of our local wintertime skiff fishing targets calico and sand bass at reef zones within half a dozen miles of harbor.

Kelp beds along the entire SoCal coast produce whenever water temps jump a couple of degrees. Keep an eye on www.terrafin.com to time a trip just right or to help select a target hotspot.

Remember that bass work the water differently during the winter. Present your baits low in the water column and reel swimbaits slower than you would at any other time of the year.

The hottest lure aboard my charter boat WaveWalker has been a 4-inch Big Hammer swimbait in the Christmas tree color pattern.

— 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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