I once challenged the editor of TheLog boating newspaper to spend the better part of a day near the entrance of a SoCal harbor and tally up what percentage of boats were fishing boats.
He accepted the challenge, was clearly impressed with the results, and added a new major section to the publication and called it FishRap.
That event was one of those times when the importance of recreational and commercial fishing along our coast really came into focus.
Another time was when the chief economist of NOAA Sanctuaries determined that recreational anglers were collectively the greatest drivers of economy (money) within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Commercial fishers were the second largest (and very important) economic force.
Many more boats from our local harbors fish local waters than island waters. With all of that good background information, I can state that most coastal and island-bound boats are fishing boats.
March is a milestone month in the coastal and island fishing world because March 1 is when our rockfish season starts up, and great numbers of people climb aboard private boats, open party boats (like Santa Barbara Landing) and private charter boats to go catch these tasty denizens of the deep.
What are rockfish? It is a term used to refer to members of the RCG complex as fisheries managers call them. The acronym stands for Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling and encompasses many species that live and forage near structure such as reefs and rocky outcroppings.
One of the most famous (in fine dining circles) is the vermillion rockfish, which we refer to as red snapper. Don’t confuse this with the red snapper of the Gulf Coast, as it is a different species.
March 1 marks the opener of rockfish season for recreational anglers. If you frequent the fisherman’s market on Saturday mornings, you have been able to buy rockfish from our friendly local commercial fisherfolk such as Paul Teal, who I’ve known and admired for many years.
Recreational rockfish season is closed January and February, however commercial fishers are permitted to catch them for us to buy.
Many of us anglers will be hitting the high seas beginning this week and weekend because our freezers lack our highly craved supplies of rockfish and lingcod. This is the time to resolve that issue and have a really fun adventure doing it. I invite you to do the same.
Stop by Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center at 4010 Calle Real in Santa Barbara to get your fishing license, bait and tackle you will need, then let’s go have some fun.
— 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.