Sunday, December 4 , 2016, 4:43 pm | Fair 62º


Captain’s Log: Whale Watching and Fishing Trips Are the Best Combination of All

There are whalewatching trips and there are fishing trips. Lately, it seems like my fishing trips are becoming combo trips because there are so many whales and dolphins around that at times we’re surrounded by them. Trust me ... I’m not complaining! This is a powerful blessing.

One day during the week, we were fishing at the 4-Mile, which is, oh, about 4 miles out of the Santa Barbara Harbor (I love simple naming conventions!), when a mile-long pod of dolphins cruised in and moved by us on either side and underneath.

We hadn’t yet calmed down from that excitement when a resounding Whoosh! sound spun us around to watch a humpback whale come up several times in rapid succession to take breaths and leave footprints on the water before fluking and diving to feed.

Fortunately, the family who chartered us that day enjoyed those moments as much as the great fishing.

We continued to catch red snapper, copper rockfish, lingcod and other fabulous fresh table fare. Then on the way in, a minke whale decided to track along with us for awhile. Again, we had hooting and hollering people. I sometimes wonder what the critters think of our hooting and hollering and gesticulating ...

Two days later, I got a call from a fellow fisher I know who was fishing the 1-Mile (I’ll leave it to you to figure out how far out of the harbor this spot is) and had marine mammals literally all around him. A short while later, we fished the same spot and enjoyed the experience ourselves, when the critters moved past us. Sometimes they will get curious and turn back around to come check us out.

On Santa Barbara Channel crossings, it is common to see pods of dolphins numbering in the hundreds and even thousands. The population of common dolphins appears to be strong and they have lots of youngsters with them. The little football-size babies are so cute they are adorable.

Once at the Channel Islands, we catch our fish, enjoy the spectacular scenery and on our way back we fervently hope for another encounter with our magnificent whales and dolphins.

— 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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