BY ANDREW MACK
Marina Del Rey – We arrived to board the Fin Fetish with a few rods each, but we knew to keep the tackle at a minimum since they already have all the gear on board. As we headed out, Captain Joe gave us the rundown on what the plan was and asked what we wanted to target, rockfish or game fish. Everyone on this charter wanted gamefish, so we set the bar high for white seabass, yellowtail and halibut.
We arrived at Santa Barbara Island in just over two hours and had to make squid. A few of us had squid jigs in and sent them to the bottom. We’d bounce them up and down until one squid was hooked, then another, then another. We had at least 80 or so in the tank which was really impressive. Then we moved around the island looking for fish, a few marks here and there but nothing to make a stop on. Captain Joe knew the wind was coming, so we tried one spot on a drift.
They had a lot of boat rods set up with squid on a dropper loop. No bites on the first pass so we reset and did the drift again. Then one rod got smacked, and Juan Rameriz from Santa Maria grabbed it and the fish took him for a ride a few times around the boat until we saw color. It was a 200-plus pound black sea bass. A great fight but the other captain cut the line and the fish took off. Then the wind started ripping above 25 mph, so we went on the opposite end of the island to hide. We started marking more squid so brought the rigs back out and added more to the tanks.
The next morning, the wind calmed way down so we worked back around the island and we started to drift. We made about four drifts for maybe three hours, then finally another boat rod went off and Juan grabbed it again. This fish took off back and forth around the boat for maybe 10 minutes before we saw deep color. It was a yellowtail, and a fat one at that! It came up into range and Captain Joe stuck this tank of a yellow with a perfect gaff shot to the head. This yellow was definitely a bigger model above the 35-pound class, probably pushing closer to 40, and it was also Juan’s first-ever yellow.
From there we continued with a few drifts before another rod went off, and this time William Hoeftt set the hook but the fish came right up and it was another 30-pound “wrong kind,” so again we cut the line and let it go. After a few hours with only a yellowtail to show, we moved shallower around some kelp to try for halibut. On the second drift, the rod went off and it’s the right kind!
Dave Worden from Tehachapi grabbed the rod and fought this 15-pound-class halibut to the surface. Now we have two of the three targeted species we were looking for. From there we moved a little deeper and started searching for that elusive ghost. Captain set up the anchor after he marked a few fish and it was quiet for a bit. He said the current is going downwards which was exactly what we were looking for. Not even a minute after, the boat rod goes bent and Dave grabs it and he’s on! It was fighting like a seabass, but could it be the right kind to take him around the boat once, so it was also a better grade of fish. He fought it to the surface and it was another beast, a 50-pound seabass was landed, and this was the first white seabass the Fin Fetish has landed this year in that area. Not only that, but I was talking to Dave after he landed the fish and he said this is what he was looking for more than 33 years. He hasn’t caught a white seabass since 1988. He even told me he is going to get a mount of it for the wall.
Captain Joe on the Fin Fetish did it and got each target species on board. We even got into a few good-size whitefish to add to it. With about 20 minutes left before we headed home, it was almost time to pull the fish out and take some pictures. We decided to do one last drift before we headed home so we got all the rods back in the water with live squid and waited. On the last drift with only a few minutes to go, the rod next to me goes bent. I reach over to grab it and then stop. I looked at Ted Cotter from Reseda and knew this fish was being caught by him. Ted runs over, grabs the rod and it’s on. Sure enough the fight goes on and we see deep color. Not a yellow, not a halibut, but we did see that silver-bluish tint under water. It was another ghost! The second seabass was landed and now we were all pumped! What a trip it was.