Monday, January 22 , 2018, 10:43 pm | Fair 57º


Captain’s Log: My Days as a Fishing Mentor/Guide Aboard Other Boats

I just spent a week working as a guide and mentor on various people’s boats, mostly out of Channel Islands Harbor. I enjoyed it, and I think I’ll do more of that. Boat owners wanted to know how to gear up, set up, bait up and fish for white seabass, halibut, yellowtail, rockfish, lingcod, calico bass and others.

I’ve been a charter skipper for decades. I own a tackle shop. I do seminars, club talks and write articles for fishing publications. It is fun to bring that knowledge aboard and teach people how to use their fishing gear, their navigation electronics and, perhaps most importantly (for the sake of fishing), how to read their fishfinder like a pro.

Some of those boat owners ask me to outfit them with just the right rods, reels, fishing line and tackle to make sure they are ready for the various kinds of fishing opportunities that come up here.

We had classic learning opportunities when squid moved into the shallows around the Channel Islands to spawn. It is very helpful to learn to recognize squid on a fishfinder screen, because that is a great start to a fishing opportunity. Then I taught people to recognize the specific sonar signatures of different species of fish that moved in to feed on the squid. Some of these were white seabass, barracuda, yellowtail, calico bass and rockfish.

Each species looks different on the screen, and learning to distinguish between them helps a boater call fish like the 8 ball in the corner pocket. It is impressive when a boat owner tells guests that there are white seabass and barracuda below, and then people actually start hooking those species. The owner begins to look like a fishing guru!

Having just the right fishing gear aboard to tangle with those brutes is also important, and I gave lots of lessons. Most folks asked me to bring along what we would need for fishing. That was wise, and it paid off in fish.

Squid spawns are creating fantastic fishing opportunities at Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands. This fishing season is shaping up quite nicely.

— 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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