Rockfish & Chill Trip Report
I mentioned in last week’s post I was going to do a local 3/4-day trip on the Spitfire last Sunday with a bunch of friends of mine. It was a successful trip. Going in, I was excited about the prospect of big reds. This notion was created by a picture I saw from the previous week. It was galley cook, Mike Bibeau (above), and a massive 9lb-6oz. vermilion rockfish.
As it turned out, Capt. John Corzell told me that those big reds only wanted live squid. We had live sardines and cut frozen squid (at least it was from the squid they made). We wouldn’t be fishing for them. It was going to be a more typical Santa Monica Bay rockfish trip of belindas (aka speckled rockfish – right), bocaccio, starries and other assorted rockfish.
This kind of rockfishing can be a little bit of a challenge. These species of fish are suspended over structure, not right on the bottom. The trick is to listen to where the captain says they are. They’ll say something like “10-15 cranks off the bottom” and you need to work that zone. Operative word is work. Move your bait up and down through that section of the water column until you find where they’re holding. In this fashion, I easily put together a full limit of rockfish.
Despite the advice of the crew, I noticed a lot of novice anglers leaving their bait right on the bottom. The telltale sign is they caught a lot of small banded rockfish. I was fishing towards the bow and watched a couple rent rods putting the wood to them. The seabirds were loving it.
I paused to have a cheeseburger when I heard one of them calling for a gaff. I jumped up to investigate…lingcod. I immediately grabbed my dropper setup and loaded it with double ‘dines. The key with lingcod is to cover a lot of ground. They tend to sit on a rock and wait for something to come by that catches their eye. The more ground you cover, the more wiggle you give them, the better your chances are to catch one. I casted out and slowly dragged my baits back toward the boat. Where there’s one ling, there’s probably another…and I found her. Good score.
Rockfish are dominating the counts right now, but one of the great things about fishing in the ocean is that there is always a chance to be surprised by something else.
On our trip, a young man hooked into an electric ray (at least Capt. John said that’s what it was)! There were some other surprising catches this week during rockfishing trips.
One was on MDR sister boat the Betty-O. The Betty-O ONLY does rockfishing. Even on those occasions when other fish are biting in the bay, it keeps plugging along bottomfishing. This lucky angler (right) hooked into more than she bargained for on Tuesday when she connected on this 29-pound home-guard yellow.
Tuesday was a good day for surprises.
The Sport King with Capt. Bruce Root had a good one when this angler hit the jackpot (below) with a beautiful halibut.
You never know unless you go. The year is rapidly winding down. Take advantage of the nice weather. Take a break from Christmas shopping and go patronize your local fishing boat.
Good luck if you get out there.