Road Trip For NorCal Rockfish & Crab Combo

Hey guys, sorry for the late post.  I’m up here in San Francisco for the weekend.  I came up to fish with my buddies, Nick Lam and Tim Shiau.  Tim is a deckhand on Enterprise Sportfishing, and Nick is his buddy that lives up here, but frequently comes down to fish with us in SoCal.

Quick little bit of business before I get into the trip though…

I was wrong.

I wrote last week that Offshore Is Over.  Offshore is definitely on its last legs, but it’s NOT quite over just yet.  I was shocked this week to get the update that the Oceanside 95 got into yellowfin tuna up to 70-pounds on Tuesday.  Capt. Rick Slavkin told me they were at San Clemente Island looking for bluefin and yellowtail when the Navy kicked them out.  They were headed away from the island when they ran into a school of porpoise and got stopped.

Rick was able to make a day of it picking away a couple at a time and ended up with 18 fish for 32 anglers.  One of the readers on the facebook page, Steven Welsh (right), was one of the lucky ones.  Capt. Rick said a hot bait on 25-30# test was the ticket to getting bit.  Make sure you have that setup on those island trips…just in case.  They had another trip going out Friday night, so I’ll be curious to see how they did.

Editor’s note – they got 93!

San Francisco Rockfish/Crab Combo Trip

So back to this week’s trip.  Nick and Tim did it last year and it was a complete success.  Limits of rockfish, lingcod and DUNGENESS CRAB!  I’ve literally been waiting a year to go on this trip and it did not disappoint.  Nick strategically planned our trip to go shortly after the recreational season opened, but before the commercial season started.  He said if you do that, you are guaranteed to come home with your limit of 10 of these tasty crustaceans!

We showed up at 5am at Berkeley Marina for a 6am departure aboard El Dorado SportfishingCapt. Robert Gallia and his able deckhands Roman and Josh (pictured top preparing the crab traps) would host us for the day.

Roman gave the trip briefing and said we were looking at a long ride out to the Farallon Islands, some rocky outcroppings about 30 miles due west from San Francisco.  Once out there, we’d be doing drifts for lingcod and rockfish.  They had cut squid for bait, but Nick said to just bring swimbaits and jigs for targeting lings which I did.  For the trip, I only brought 2 rod/reel combos – my setup to throw jigs/swimbaits, and a standard double dropper rockfishing rig.

Very first stop of the day, I was lucky to get on what would end up being the runner-up fish of the day, a nice lingcod (maybe 12-13-pounds) using a 7″ swimbait on a 6 oz. head in about 180-feet of water.  The rockfishing was typical of the rockfishing we enjoy at Santa Rosa/San Miguel islands on the overnight trips there…better quality rockfish.  An added bonus for these trips though is the variety.  Exotics like quillbacks, China, canary (left), and golden eye rockfish (no take) all can be caught up here.

By say 1:30, it was time to start heading back.  Normally, on a Channel Islands overnight, I’d have some lunch, take pics with the fish, and then nap on the way home.  But there was still the matter of the crab…

The boat keeps a stock of traps at sea.  It has a commercial crab pot pulling apparatus attached to the starboard side of the boat.  It was a small matter of Capt. Robert locating his buoys, the crew grabbing the buoy line, and letting the puller do the heavy lifting of pulling up the pots.  I just stood off to the side and watched them go at it.  Each pot contained anywhere from say 10-25 crabs lured inside by a deadly combo of squid and fish carcasses leftover from previous fishing trips.  At this stage in the season, there were few shorts that got thrown back.  Some of the crabs were downright mega in size!  As we were about to return home, each passenger was given a mesh bag and the crew put 10 in each.  The landing has a crab cooking station outside where you can have them cook your entire bag for $20 before you go home.

The commercial season starts this Wednesday, November 20th, but they will be running these trips through the end of the year.  Several passengers told me these trips are an annual ritual that adds a tasty twist to their holiday dinner spread.  I’m in.  You should give it a try too.

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 ...