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Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 3:53 am | Fog 49º


Captain’s Log: Fishing Cranks Up as the Season Winds Down

Sometimes timing just sucks!

Here we are in the midst of the most memorable fishing season of perhaps our entire lives, thanks to a major El Niño pumping warm water and fish to us, and just as the season hits its stride and the sea is full of voracious fish… school starts up again, vacation days are no longer being taken and the vast majority of people are totally missing out on the best fishing possible. 

This fishing is unbelievably good. One of our regular customers at Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center, located at 4010 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, fished near the front side of Santa Cruz Island and approached a floating kelp paddy.

He cast a live mackerel bait next to the kelp paddy and watched the water erupt as a 25-pound dorado savagely attacked the mack. On another cast it was a yellowtail… a hard-fighting member of the jack family (cousins are jack cravalle and amberjack).

Before the boat left the paddy, there was a marlin on the line. This is nearly unheard of along the front side of the island where the water is generally cool, and such sea life is extremely rare for even the backside of the island where warm water currents from down south terminate. 

Yellowfin tuna have been caught near Anacapa Island, while just outside of the Footprint marine protected area a half-dozen miles farther, tuna and marlin have been taken. Those spots are identified by an amazing abundance of life under the water, on the surface of the sea and in the air.

Or perhaps I know when it is the right place because my skipper’s “6th sense” kicks in and I feel it.

I enjoy being hired for a day or two to run private boats and help people learn about boat handling and about fishing, but this feeling or gut instinct for nature is the hardest lesson of all to teach. 

Every floating kelp paddy out there is worth checking now. Some of them are empty, but others develop a whole ecosystem that stretches for many fathoms down the water column and holds the fish of your dreams.

Sylvia Hahn and a 40-pound yellowtail that she caught in the waters off of Hollister Ranch.

These catches are the kinds of fish that a person can enthrall their family and dinner guests with stories of while enjoying a healthy, tasty meal of truly same-day fresh fish. 

If you are one of those souls who has given up on summer because the standard summer vacation period is over, make an opportunity to call in with a case of the snuffles (Sorry, supervisors… but maybe you can do it, too!), get on a boat (private, charter, open-party) and get out there for the fishing opportunity of your lifetime. 

This is the year that people will refer back to many years from now when they say, “Where have all the fish gone? I remember catching fish like crazy right here!”

The answer is, the fish are out there in abundance, but they are not right here and available at all times.

You have to wait for the great years to come along in your life. When they do, don’t miss the boat!

— 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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