Friday, January 19 , 2018, 11:31 pm | Fair 52º


Captain’s Log: Going Way Too Far to Catch Fish

Best angling spots can be right in harbor

Lenny Green of Burbank with 31-inch halibut he caught. Click to view larger
Lenny Green of Burbank with 31-inch halibut he caught. (Capt. David Bacon)

When we stop at the live bait receiver in the mornings with my charter boat WaveWalker, I hear my passengers talk about the fish they are hoping to catch. Halibut are often mentioned as are white seabass and others.

I chuckle to myself because the truth is, we should stay right where we are to fish because there is no better place to fish than right next to the live bait receiver. Every critter in the neighborhood including pelagic fish know what is in those bait receivers.

Passengers want adventure as well as fish, and so off we go to far-off places to chase fish. We would have had more fishing time, however, had we stayed near the bait receiver.

On a charter this past Friday, my passengers wanted halibut and were happy to focus solely on the soles. We loaded up the bait tank with live sardines, moved about 40 yards away and I said, “Okay, start fishing!”

That day featured small-craft advisories and gale warnings at sea, so the passengers and I agreed to fish close in.

At times the winds would calm just slightly and we ventured outside the harbor to fish nearby halibut spots. Then the wind and seas picked up again and we moved back inside.

Turns out, all of our halibut that day were caught inside Santa Barbara Harbor, and we got fish up to 25 pounds. Lenny Green from Burbank was pleased as punch with the big halibut, his second of the day.

That reminds me of a regular charter group who charters us several times a year.

One morning at the bait receiver Andy said, “Hey Captain, it’s my birthday today! Know what I’d really like for my birthday? A white seabass.”

I asked him if he was willing to seriously alter the plan for the day to accomplish that. He said heck yes, so I moved the boat right across the way from the bait receiver and told him to start fishing.

He looked at me kinda funny, but he ended up with two keeper white seabass for his birthday, and he decided it was his best trip ever.

The moral of the story is, there is nothing wrong with heading out for adventure, but sometimes the best fishing opportunities are surprisingly close by.

— 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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