I’m wrapping up my stay up here in Seattle. It’s been a lot of fun…but it’s time. I’m missing SoCal. I miss my children. I miss my friends. I miss Mexican food. And I miss fishing down there!
Lots of great things are happening on the SoCal salt scene. I’m seeing many local boats getting into good calico bass fishing with shots at yellows, white seabass, and halibut in that mix. The local LA County boats are getting into hot surface action on barracuda…something that hasn’t really happened in years. Overnight trips to the islands are enjoying a great mix of inshore and bottom oriented fishing. And offshore, there’s great kelp paddy action to augment a good tuna bite.
It’s like we went from nothing to full blown summer crush in just a few short weeks.
As I survey the landscape and weigh my options of where to fish upon my return, there’s one thing consistent to wherever I may choose to exercise my fishing options…
You better make a reservation!
Typically, you don’t see this level of sold-out trips until later in the summer. And you almost never see it affect the local boats. But this year, with the combination of a forced hiatus from fishing creating a huge pent-up demand, and reduced spots on sportboats to allow for social distancing, several boats are already booked out for the next several weeks.
I say this every year, but it’s more important than ever…get your group together, pick a date, and book it. The sooner the better. If you thought it was bad not being able to fish during the shutdown, imagine how you’ll feel seeing everyone else’s fish pics flood your timeline while you’re sitting on the sidelines. Don’t wait.
Pacific NW Update
Prior to my coming up here, I had created a checklist in my mind of what fish I wanted to catch during my stay. Those fish were a Chinook salmon, a shore lingcod, a 20+ pound lingcod, and a Pacific halibut. I did it!
Along the way, I added a couple of new species (kelp greenling and cutthroat trout) and even bagged a steelhead. Each of those catches involved some trial and error, required persistence, and involved more than a little bit of luck. As a result, I feel very satisfied with achieving these fishing goals.
Will I come back and try to catch bigger fish? Absolutely! Do I want to come later in the year and catch albacore? You bet! But unless the border with Canada opens up, and I have a chance to fish Vancouver Island, I’ll probably stick to shore-based day trips until I leave.
With that parameter in mind, I headed back to Whidbey Island. It’s become a favorite spot of mine. It’s a fairly short drive and ferry ride, while still feeling far away from the normal day-to-day. I was back out there last Thursday (June 18). I hit my usual spots and wasn’t having any luck. Mid-afternoon, the wind started kicking up and I was ready to call it a day. It was only about 2:30 though, so I figured I’d take a peek at the other side of the island. I found a dock spot that looked promising. It wasn’t windy, so I decided to give it a few casts. I was glad I did. Skunk averted.
I caught several rockfish. The fact I did so from a dock was pretty cool and reminded me of being home dock hopping for spotted bay bass. It was so good I went back on Saturday. Getting there and back was a nightmare due to the weekend ferry crowds. But the fishing was even better than on Thursday. Since it had reminded me of fishing spotties, I decided to fish it like I would fish spotties. I threw my Dark Sleeper knock-off. That worked until I lost it, so I threw some swimbaits. When I lost all my lighter leadheads, I threw Texas-rigged flukes. The bigger profile bait led to catching bigger fish! I even got broken off a couple of times…and I was fishing 20# fluoro! I kept fishing until it got dark. No lie, I caught and released at least 2 dozen fish on Saturday. Better yet, the spot doesn’t seem dependent on the time of day or tidal conditions and is very accessible. It’d be cool to go with my buddy and his young son, or my cousin and nieces. Always fun to put kids on fish!
That’s all for now. Go book your summer trips and good luck when you get out there.