Things are winding down on the 2019 fishing season in SoCal. Several of our favorite boats are off the water doing boat work in preparation for next year. The New Seaforth found those yellows again this last week, but overall the scene has been dominated by anglers getting in their last shots of rockfishing before that season shuts down at the end of the year.
My first charter of next year, our annual Colonet trip on the Pacific Queen is already sold out. People are asking me what they need to bring for the trip. Here’s your primer…
The primary target on these Colonet trips are yellowtail, and the primary way to catch them is on the yo-yo iron.
I love this trip and the main reason why is how seldom the opportunity to catch yellows on yo-yo iron comes up throughout the year. You can always count on that happening for this trip! It’s a unique thrill to be grinding away to get that jig to move when suddenly you’re stopped and hooked up on an angry yellow 200-feet below you not wanting to come up.
You know you’re in for a fight, and it’s a blast!
At right is my friend, Kelly Auburn Castaneda. Kelly was the first one to score on last year’s Colonet trip and I’d like to point out a few things about her setup that I think are spot-on for this particular application.
Kelly is using a custom-made Fishing Syndicate 860H rod. The rod is rated 30#-60#. You need a beefier stick like this one to have the lift you need to pull up a hard fighting fish from depth. On the rod, she has a Shimano Tranx 500HG. Ideal reel for this application. The gear ratio on this reel is 6.6:1, so it’s fast. You don’t always want a fast retrieve, but it’s easier to slow down your wind than it is trying to overcompensate for a lower gear ratio. You’ll also notice that she has a sizable topshot of mono on the reel. I like filling the reel about 2/3 full with 65# braid and then topping it off with 40# or 50# mono topshot. These fish aren’t line shy, and fluorocarbon isn’t required. I like having the mono to add some shock absorber so that you don’t pull the hook when you first get bit. It’s also really nice that the reel has a line guide…one less thing to think about when you’re on a fish.
What Jigs Do I Need?
Generally, we’ll be fishing in about 200-250-feet of water. You’re going to want to use a heavier jig, to get yourself down into the zone as quickly as possible. The jig pictured at the top was very successful last year, it is 187 Jigs version of the 6X heavy. It’s worth bringing a couple jigs in a junior size, but you’ll want to fill your bag with full-size versions of mint, blue/white, scrambled egg etc.
What About Bait?
It’s not absolutely necessary, but it’s a good idea to have a backup setup for catching yellowtail. A 30# bait setup is a good option. Sometimes the fish will come up and being able to flyline a bait is a good thing to have in your lineup. You can also use this setup as a high dropper or rubber band rig to fish lower in the fishing column with a live bait…just in case it gets scratchy or you get tired of yo-yo-ing a jig.
There may be times during the trip where the boat will change focus and target rockfish. Pretty much though at any point in the trip, you could go to the bottom and rockfish if you choose to do it. You’re going to want to make sure you bring at least two 1-pound. sinkers. Some people are willing to go heavier, but if it takes more than a pound…I’m just not that into it.
One thing that may seem really tempting is to just use either your yo-yo or bait setup to rockfish. Please keep this point in mind. I like to use a reel that is 100% braid to rockfish. I tie the braid to a swivel, and then tie my dropper loops (or jig and fly) with mono from there.
You really DO NOT want to use a mainly mono setup to rockfish.
The sensitivity of a braid to short leader setup is a big deal. But a bigger deal is when/if you get stuck, you’re going to have a REALLY HARD TIME breaking off straight 30# or 40# mono when it’s tethered to the ocean floor 400+ feet below. It sucks to be sitting there trying to just break off when people around you are catching fish.
That’s about it…
Two, maybe 3 setups, and a passport are all you need.
I’ll see you out there on the rail. Have a Merry Christmas this week and good luck if you get out there!