We’ve been waiting to see that headline for too long haven’t we?
Mind you, it isn’t the full array of choices we’d been spoiled into taking for granted prior to everything being shut down. However, meaningful strides forward are being made toward that end.
Saturday (May 23) I was back in Newport, Oregon. I was on the Umatilla II again with Capt. Jeremy Freitag out of Newport Marina Store & Charters. You’ll remember that I fished with these guys back in March on my way up to Seattle. That was a lingcod/rockfish and Dungeness crab combo trip. I stayed in touch with Krista Schulze who I met and fished with the first time around. She reached out when they got the go ahead to re-open. They re-opened their trips last Thursday (May 21) with a halibut trip. They have Pacific halibut up here…the kind you catch in Alaska. I’ve never caught one. Aside from just being able to get back out on the water, the draw of catching a new gamefish to put on my fishing resume appealed to the angler in me.
I also felt comfortable with their setup. They allowed only 10 anglers for the trip, and each person had their assigned spot on the rail (right). There’s no galley. You bring your own food, so no issues related to serving food to customers in the current environment. I wore one of my AFTCO masks (without the nose and mouth perforations). It worked for me. Once we got going, my only concern was getting bit.
You’re only allowed one fish per angler, so we did pretty well with 7 fish for 10 anglers. I’ll get into the details later. I plan to go back.
Meanwhile, Back In SoCal
I’ve been talking a lot lately about fishing up here in the Pacific Northwest. One reason is that I’m up here right now. The other reason is that the sportboats in SoCal have been on lockdown.
That status changed over Memorial Day weekend.
Over the weekend, SEA Landing in Santa Barbara, home to the Stardust and Coral Sea, began running open party trips again. Both boats will be doing limited load, 3/4-day runs through the month of June (see what happens from there).
I talked to the boats’ owner, Jaime Diamond, on Sunday to understand how they were able to re-open and what steps they’re taking to keep their crew and passengers safe. Jaime told me that the Sportfishing Association of California developed broad re-opening guidelines, that the individual boat and landing owners could then adapt to their specific situations. Jaime took their amended re-opening guidelines and worked through the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the County’s Director of Public Health to get their boats approved to be back on the water.
That approval came on Thursday (May 21) and they ran their first trip on Saturday. They ran up the coast for limits of rockfish. Sunday, they had better conditions and were able to go to Santa Rosa for limits also, but with a better grade of fish.
You’ll notice some changes when you get on the boat. For one, everyone is required to wear face coverings. You can wear a medical type mask, but it looks like a lot of people opted to go with a sun mask as I did on my trip. Things like sugar and creamer that you’d normally help yourself to, are now distributed by the galley cook. If you use the head, a crew member will wipe it down before the next passenger can use it. Throughout the day they’re wiping down high touch spots like hand railings. It’s a bunch of small things designed to take that extra measure of safety for the crew and passengers. Jaime stressed to me that all these measures are part of the guidelines that were approved by county officials and must be adhered to if they want to keep running. If you want to go, you have to agree to comply with the passenger part of these guidelines. You can read more about what all is involved with them HERE.
The good news isn’t only in the 805 though!
Dana Wharf Sportfishing started running yesterday (right). I heard through the grapevine that aside from the LA County boats, the consensus is that the other boats will get the go-ahead to re-open on June 1st.
I’m happy for us that we have a chance to get back on the boats now. I’m happy for the captains and crews to that they can work and get back to putting us on fish. If you choose to get back out there, make it easy on them and your fellow passengers and go along with the program.
Good luck if you get out there!