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Thursday, March 21 , 2019, 11:17 am | A Few Clouds 56º


Captain’s Log: Huge Lingcod Proves We’ve Got Whoppers Out There

A 31-pounder caught off Santa Rosa Island is no fish story

Capt. Tiffany Vague hefts a 31-pound lingcod, caught by Larry Reiche of Montecito aboard charter boat WaveWalker.
Capt. Tiffany Vague hefts a 31-pound lingcod, caught by Larry Reiche of Montecito aboard charter boat WaveWalker. (Capt. David Bacon)

The Santa Barbara Channel and Channel Islands form an incredibly good and diverse fishery, as we were reminded on a trip this week aboard my charter boat, WaveWalker, when we really got into the lingcod and some were worthy of bragging rights.

Autumn and early winter are when the biggest lingcod come into shallower water and the catch of a 31-pounder at the Channel Islands is proof the big fish are here for Santa Barbara and Ventura county anglers.

WaveWalker was fishing last Thursday off the front side of Santa Rosa Island when Larry Reiche of Montecito felt his heavy-action rod bend surprisingly deep.

Reiche was in for a workout for the next 20 minutes, cranking up something very heavy and argumentative on his Vague Rod and Shimano reel spooled with braid and topped off with fluorocarbon leader.

At color, Capt. Tiffany Vague (maker of Vague Rods), whistled as she hefted two lingcod aboard. A 31-pounder had hit a Lingslayer lure from Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center and a 15-pounder was on the 7/0 teaser hook baited with a mackerel.

“Anytime you can make a drop with a Lingslayer and a teaser hook and come up with 46 combined pounds of raging 'lingasaur' off the California Coast, you’ve got braggin’ rights for life," Vague told Reiche.

This seasoned skipper (your faithful reporter) has been fishing the Santa Barbara Channel since the 1960s. I have seen some very large lingcod and other fish come to color (just below the surface when you can first see what kind of fish it is). I do recall catching even bigger lingcod into the 40s, but ancient fish in the 30s and 40s are rare off California.

While we were out fishing that day, we had fish take our lures and baits and then just bulldog back down into their rocky lairs 250 feet below. They, too, were exceptionally big lingcod and we didn’t have much of a chance to stop them.

It does my heart and conscience good to know that we are doing a good job at managing our fisheries through the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the tried-and-true fisheries managers of our country. This has nothing to do with MPAs nor with sanctuaries. This is just good fisheries management and we catch fish to prove it.

— 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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