Sportboat Report – Winter Bassin’ On The Tradition

Last week, I wrote about some good options for boats fishing Winter Hours right now.  In keeping with one of my New Year Fishing Resolutions, I’ve been getting in my rail time in 2020 fishing the local boats, trying to improve on my winter bassing game.  Last Friday (January 31st), I rode the Tradition out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro.  I was glad I did…

Trip Prep

shimano curadoTen o’clock boat…how easy is that?  I had put together my gear the night before, so I had plenty of morning-time to make myself coffee and breakfast before heading out to the landing.

I brought 3 setups…2 leadhead and squid rigs, and a 3rd set up for halibut.  During the exercise of moving and organizing all my fishing gear into a storage facility, I had found my Curado 300E (right).  I was debating whether or not to keep or sell it.  I decided to fish it before making that choice.  I stripped it down to the underlying braid, put on a fresh topshot of 15# mono, and paired it with my lightest Shimano Teramar rod (8′, 12-25#).  My other bass setup used straight braid to a short leader of 30# fluoro.

Tradition 10-4 Halfie 

leadhead and squidUpon boarding the boat, I discovered we had fresh dead squid that the crew had made the night before.  I was hoping it would provide an advantage to our fishing day.  As I was setting up, I struck up a conversation with Damien Parker Barranco.  Damien is a crewmember on the Freedom and was riding just to go fishing.  I set up my first bass setup with the standard leadhead and squid rig (left).

Damien told me to set up the second one as a Carolina Rig.  Capt. Kris Karpow had also mentioned the C-rig to me when I rode with him on the Sea Watch a couple of weeks back.  OK, why not?  I put an ounce and 1/4 of lead on the 15# mainline and tied it off to a swivel.  From the swivel, I tied on a short length of 30# fluoro and finished it with a 3/0 Aki twist hook.

Exiting the harbor, Capt. Tom Durr pointed the boat north.  We eventually dropped anchor at a spot off Palos Verdes.  This is an area that I rarely get to fish.  It’s too far south to get to on a half-day for the MDR boats.  It’s also a little tricky because there are little slivers of fishable area interspersed between Marine Protected Areas.  I think a lot of boats just avoid the area so as not find themselves accidentally drifting into an MPA.  It seemed promising.

I started off fishing the leadhead and squid rig and it wasn’t long before I got bit by a legal sand bass.  Great start to the day.  There wasn’t much current in the spot though, so Capt. Tom made a short move.  At the second spot, I promptly snagged my leadhead in some structure and lost my tackle.  I switched up to the C-rig setup.

winter bass
Thanks Damien

Immediately, I was getting attention.  I knew given that I was fishing a mainline of mono, that it wouldn’t have the same sort of immediate reaction as the braid to fluoro setup if I tried to set the hook.  It forced me to be more patient and wait for the fish to really commit to the bite.  I don’t know if it was the bait, the presentation, the spot, or being more patient in how I fished, but I nailed a legal sand bass (right) and 2 legal calicos in quick succession.

Eventually, I had to break off the C-rig when I got it stuck in some rocks.  Nevertheless, it felt like I had discovered something big that I’ll want to try again in the near future.

We took a short break to change things up.  Capt. Tom said to pin on a full squid as we were going to try a halibut drift.  I tied a dropper on my third setup and pinned on a squid.  The boat had gotten a couple of halibut last week, so I was hopeful I might get lucky.  It wasn’t to be on this trip, for me or the boat.

saltwater bass

At this point, we were running out of time.  We settled into one more bass spot before calling it a day.  I managed to top off my bag with another calico bass to bring myself to a limit for the trip.  I’ve caught plenty of limits of bass, but never during this time of year, with this style of fishing.  As I previously stated, there were so many different potentially contributing factors to the day’s success, but I feel like I added a new trick to my game.  I can’t wait to try it out again.  By the way, I’m keeping the Curado.

Thanks to Capt. Tom and the crew for a fun day on the water.  Good luck if you get out there.

Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing boats of Southern California. In addition to writing his blog, Joe's writing has appeared in Western Outdoor News, The Log and Griffin Media. Joe is ...