BY MERIT McCREA
VENTURA/OXNARD — Capt. Tucker McCoombs on the Endeavor, Ventura Sportfishing, Bobby Valney’s Seabiscuit and the Mirage, CISCOS, absolutely slaughtered the outer island white seabass as the weather straightened out at the outer islands. McCoombs and anglers posted video of the wide-open bite, squid floating under the light, McCoombs bit on a surface iron tossed out into the dark, then straight grinding a heafty croaker to the boat and throwing it aboard on the heavy string in seconds.
When it’s that wide open, you just don’t care if one tears off, because there’s another chance coming with the next cast. And that’s how it must have been on that 2 dayer, with 28 anglers limiting both days — 138 seabass for the trip along with plenty of the northern Channel Islands’ usual rockfish and whitefish.
And with this squid bite there were some dandy halibut, as is typical for this zone. While the Endeavor had back-to-back 2-day trips online, the Mirage and Seabiscuit accessed the limits seabass bite on overnight trips, also getting limits.
Friday the Seabiscuit’s 20 anglers had 60 seabass. The Mirage had 45 for 15 anglers, also limits.
The day before the Mirage was just back from their own 2-day with 108 seabass — 2-day limits for 18 anglers.
Saturday saw the Mirage back with 4 big halibut and 55 more croaker for their 20 anglers, not quite all the limit allowed for but very close.
Sunday saw a bit of west wind fill in out west, which was forecast to back off mid-week.
But that wasn’t the only seabass show to be had as the all-day boats in the fleet picked a handful or two each day along with calico limits being posted by the usual suspects, chartered by those anglers with the skills.
Even the big 3/4-day boats posted some solid bass catches along with whitefish for all hands.
For CISCOS Mike Thompson penned, “It’s been an exciting week to fish the Channel Islands! Local boats fishing Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island have been steadily catching bass and shallow bottom species like sheephead and whitefish. Yellowtail have been absent, however a handful of barracuda and white seabass have been caught near the kelp. The weather has been nice and bright and the water is clean and stable. This week in particular the outer islands have shined brighter with overnight boats coming back with full three-fish limits of white seabass. Coming into the weekend, they are on pace to call it a week of daily limits. Boats are leaving the dock with sardines supplied, however they are making bait, both snagging and scooping live squid out at the islands. Exact location unknown, however, there have been many spots biting which gives boats an opportunity to spread out and give each other plenty of room.”
The 3/4-day boats like the Coroloma at Capt. Hook’s posted limits of rockfish plus added a hundred or more ocean whitefish for sacks of 15 to 20 fish per person.
Farther up the coast at Santa Barbara Harbor – Sea Landing, the Stardust and Coral Sea spent most of their week fishing out at the Islands on 3/4-day trips. But for Sunday when winds came up, the coast was the call and it was excellent. On top of limits of quality rockfish the bass and barracuda bit, even a few smaller seabass, including one that kept.
Numbers were huge, limits of rockfish, hundreds of whitefish and others on top of it.
“Judging from what I sold and who I sold it to, I can say with confidence that the halibut bite is going off big-time on the Gaviota Coast, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands,” said Capt. Tiffany Vague at Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center in Santa Barbara. She also reported that calico bass and halibut were common catches at Goleta Pier and Goleta Bay has been good to surf fishers targeting halibut with Lucky Craft 110 Flash Minnows. Some of her customers reported fabulous rockfish trips on Stardust or Coral Sea.