I’m fairly certain that if you read my column that you are well aware that there is a big white seabass bite currently going. It started to hit last week, and has for the most part stayed steady, if not accelerated through the week. The re-emergence of squid has sparked what is likely the best opportunity we may have this year on the elusive “ghost” as sportboat anglers. It’s not that they go away. It’s a very healthy fishery. The squid just makes them easier to target and well…just gets them biting.
Since we haven’t really had a good bite in 2 years, I thought it would be a good idea to run down the gear you’re going to want to bring out there.
High Dropper Setup
This is the most basic setup. It’s the one that the deckhands will tie for you if you ask them to. It’s not like a rockfishing dropper setup though. You want to use a better knot (like a spider hitch) with a longish loop (say 10-18”). I like to fish a longer loop if there is good current. Less current, then shorter loop. From the loop to the weight, you want it a healthy 3-4 feet off the ground. You really can’t have it too high, but too low and you’ll catch sharks and rays. Also, if you are fishing a nest, your bait will be lost in the muck if too low. If you’re not getting bit, or picked up by rays, adjust the height up and/or shorten the loop.
The fish getting caught are a nice grade of fish. I’ve seen some barely legals, but most are in that 25-35 lb. and even higher grade. I’m being told minimum 40 lb. test and not be afraid to go 50 or 60! For the hook, the Owner Aki Twist is the standard, but what you are looking for is a strong, long shank hook. I keep a range of sizes from 2/0 to 8/0, but it sounds like the current squid is bigger, so be on the high end of the range.
Light Leadhead or Slider Setup
You use the High Dropper when the fish are close to the bottom. If the captain is fishing a squid nest or sonar school, High Dropper is your first pick. The light leadhead or slider setup is a change-up rig if you are anchored up and it’s just not happening on the dropper…or if the captain says they’re marking higher up in the water column. It also gives you a chance to cast out and cover more water.
I usually will fish a line class lighter on this setup (vs. dropper). So if I have 40 on the dropper, I’d setup this one as 30. My buddy Jaysen Park fished the Pacific Quest (far left in the picture above) on Thursday. He told me they were biting on this setup on the tide change. Rather than lighter, they didn’t seem to care though and were getting roped on as high as 60!
Weight-wise, have a range from say 1/8 to ¾ oz. My go to style is the Gitzem head (the one on the right in the picture left), but the banana-style head is good too. Glow/No Glow? Both work. I’m more inclined to use glow if fishing in the dark.
And Last But Not Least
Bring a snagger, it might come in handy. You never know if making bait will make your trip. Put one in your bag.
Good luck if you get out there!