I have to be honest and say I’m not a big fan of “finesse” fishing. One of the reasons why I enjoy summer calico fishing so much is that when it’s good, I can fish big baits on big string and they just come up and smash it!
At the opposite side of the spectrum is fishing light line and small hooks to coax a bite from picky bluefin. I hate it.
Somewhere in the middle of that spectrum is the setup that is getting bit offshore paddy fishing right now.
I had a chance to get out on an overnight this week leaving Sunday night fishing Monday on Eclipse Sportfishing (top). New owner/operator, Eric Sauerwein, told us during the trip briefing that the offshore fishing had been sketchy the previous couple days. He said there was a good yellowtail bite though nearby that he wanted to capitalize on first before looking outside.
Whatever, I’m game
Eric told us in the briefing that a 20 or 30# setup was the way to rig up. He said that the bite should get good starting sometime between 8 and 9am.
My buddy Nick Lam, had just gotten off a 2-day trip aboard the Pacific Queen. He told me the money setup was the classic 20# bait rig.
He was out again Sunday night on the Outer Limits. We saw each other at the landing before heading out on our respective trips.
Judging from his output over both trips, I made the right choice going with the 20# bait setup as my primary setup for the following day’s fishing.
The day kicked off as planned and I found myself getting bit particularly well compared to the majority of anglers sharing the rail with me.
You would think a 20# bait setup couldn’t be more basic
I believe fishing success can be attributed to doing a number of small things correctly. In aggregate, each tiny optimization adds up to a noticeable difference. Based on my observations, you might want to consider the following when you get out there:
Hook Selection – In general, I prefer to use circles when fishing bait (left above). Eric suggested a 1/0 J-hook. I went with his suggestion (middle). When we got into the fishing the next day, I was getting bit off small baits on long soaks. Over the years, I’ve noticed a circle hook gets the bait all screwed up on a long soak. If the key to getting bit is a lively bait…
The bait is mostly smallish right now (left), and that’s what they wanted to eat. Given that scenario, I think it’s important to consider how your hook selection helps or detracts that little bait from swimming. The hook I used is a VMC live bait hook made of “Permasteel”. They are light, yet strong and sadly they are out of production (eBay!). Conversely, I noticed a lot of people using ringed hooks. On a long soak, between the lighter material of my hook, minus the added weight of the ring, together they had a big effect on how that bait was swimming far away from the boat.
Hook Placement – I noticed a lot of guys butt hooking. I nose hooked. On a long soak, you get bit on a slow retrieve almost as much as you do letting the bait run freely. You don’t get the retrieve opportunity on a butt hooked bait.
Casting For Success – You may have noticed that I often recommend fishing the halfies to prep for going offshore. The reason why is to get practice casting a fly-lined bait. Offshore, a bait that gets casted out and away from the boat, swims away from the boat like you want it to swim. Going back to calico fishing, I have no issue casting a big bait on braid to a short leader. Doing that with a small bait, into the wind (“Wind in your face…”) is much harder. Consider going with a longer mono leader to make it easier to cast.
Hopefully, you can use these tips to put your tag on more fish the next time you’re out. Good luck when you get out there.