Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 9:56 am | A Few Clouds 69º


David Bacon

Captain’s Log: First Surface Gamesters of Summer Come Over the Rails

Bonito are a toothy member of the tuna family and provide great fun and food during the summer fishing season. Click to view larger
Bonito are a toothy member of the tuna family and provide great fun and food during the summer fishing season. (David Bacon photo)

When you live in a waterfront city and you’re tuned in to the sea, you can feel the excitement as the changing seasons bring opportunities to catch some popular marine species. Just this week some exciting surface gamesters showed up to change the scene.

Now people can pile on boats or kayaks or fishing jet skis and head offshore to do battle and bring home fresh fish dinners in the traditional manner.

Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to go far. Straight out from harbor in about 70 feet of water (that’s less than a mile off the beach), huge schools of mackerel and smaller baitfish have been congregating for weeks — those schools bring in bigger, hungry predators.

On WaveWalker Charters, we have been jigging up those mackerel and sardines to use for bait, and while we’re loading up the bait tank, we’ve been encountering some interesting catches.

First we found that calico bass and sand bass were feeding aggressively just below the small fish near the surface. By dropping baits just 20 feet down we began hooking bass and having a blast.

As this past week progressed, what we found mixed in among the baitfish became even more interesting.

First came a small barracuda, which raised some eyebrows. Then came another barracuda, this time bigger.

Well, the barracudas began to look like a trend.

On Saturday, as we finished jigging live bait and began to move offshore to chase larger fish, I followed a hunch and dropped back two tolling feathers and set the throttles to an appropriate trolling speed of seven knots.

We hadn’t trolled more than two minutes when one rod bent deeply and the reel sizzled, paying out line as a strong fish ran for tall timber.

A few minutes later we boated the season’s first bonito, a member of the tuna family, and we celebrated the feeling that summer fishing had arrived right on time, if not a tad early.

The fishing community looks forward to a summer of catching bass, barracuda and bonito, with periodic opportunities to go after white seabass, halibut, yellowtail, lingcod and rockfish.

Let the summer sizzle begin!

— 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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