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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 4:01 pm | Fair 64º


Captain’s Log: Fishing Effort to Shift from Boats to Shore for Two Months

The term “seasons change” is particularly meaningful to those who tune into critters. As stewards of the sea, our fisheries managers use the seasons to strive to balance the needs of the fish with the needs of people and maintain a very important thing called “sustainability,” which allows us to be involved in the management process and take fresh fish for our meals or, in the case of commercial fishers, take fish for market.

It’s working pretty well, gauged by the successful fisheries management stories we have built. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are the exception, but then they were not put in place to help manage fisheries. They exist to generate grant money for the few while excluding the rest of us anglers.

A big seasonal change is coming right up. From Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, groundfish will be off-limits to boaters. An off-season is part of our successful overall fisheries management plan, which has given us good healthy fish stocks, with fluctuations based upon natural cyclical changes such as cold water regimes, El Niño events and other natural occurrences.

Groundfish includes rockfish (such as red snapper and other members of the sebastes family), cabezon, sheepshead, ocean whitefish and lingcod. Those fish are pretty much the backbone of our local fisheries. We go to great lengths to catch white seabass, halibut, bass and other fish, but most fishing trips include some time fishing for groundfish in order to be assured of taking home some groceries when the others will not bite or cannot be found.

Fisheries management allows take of groundfish from shore or pier, however, and that is to allow folks a modicum of fresh, healthy fish through the year and especially for subsistence fishers who rely on fish for dinner. There is much more subsistence fishing going on than most people realize.

During the winter season, surf and pier fishing comes into its own. Yes, for many it is about dinner, but to folks seeking recreation, winter surf fishing is a way to get out and enjoy nature and have some action during the cold part of the year. Many of the recreational surf fishers I know release nearly all of what they catch and perhaps only keep enough for a meal now and then. Besides groundfish, they catch surf perch, sharks and rays and every once in awhile a keeper halibut.

With surf fishing being very popular during the winter and groundfish being closed to boaters, the fishing effort shifts from boat to shore. This shift is a sure sign of the changing seasons, and it is all good.

                                                                        •        •

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the annual no-motor fishing derby to benefit restorative work on Carpinteria Salt Marsh. The fishing derby was well attended and successful, allowing for money to be put toward good work in the salt marsh.

Recently, the Sportfishing Conservancy held a small ceremony to turn over a check for $1,600 to Chet Work, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. The money, proceeds from the no-motor derby held Nov. 8, is to fund restorative work at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh.

Represented at the ceremony were supporters from: Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center in Santa Barbara, Danny’s Deli/Car Wash/Bait & Tackle in Carpinteria, the Carpinteria Sportfishing Club, the Santa Barbara Sportfishing Club, and representatives from the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and the Sportfishing Conservancy.

— 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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