With squid and the white seabass and yellowtail that like to swim around in it being found both along the coast and at the islands, it’s surprising that there have not been more private boaters trying to take advantage of the once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to catch a November white seabass. After all, it’s not like anyone if fishing offshore.
There’s squid — and the potential for exotics — at a literal laundry list of locations: up and down the San Diego coast, the south Orange County coast from San Onofre to Newport, Santa Monica Bay, Malibu, Hueneme Canyon and the stretch of coast above Santa Barbara.
It’s the squid at the islands that has been drawing the most attention, from both game fish and private boaters. Santa Barbara Island definitely drew the masses, so far as private boaters go, with Anacapa not being far behind thanks to the other little island (or islands) holding both yellowtail and squid incredible close to home for Ventura County private boaters.
But it was San Clemente Island that came into its own over the weekend, thanks to Pyramid Cover being given the green light to fish 24/7 for the first time in over a week.
Santa Ana conditions made for a nice ride across for Mark Wisch and his Pacific Edge crew—Matt Resnik, Darryl Sato of the Chubasco II and Dan Burns—on Friday, but the weather switched right when they started to hang seabass.
The squid float fell into the thick-as-mush category, so much so that they turned off all the lights to avoid plugging up an intake for a second time. Even with just a little decklight and an anchor light, there were squid whirling around the boat in the dark.
“The weather was real balmy, but all that changed around 4:40 (a.m.),” reported Wisch to the Private Boater’s Spotlight. The wind started blowing 20 to 25 knots, but with the wind came the first island white seabass bite that Wisch has ever seen in November. “The Aggressor (a sportboat out of Newport Landing) was sitting behind us and they got bit first, then we started getting bit. Matt got one on the dropper loop and I got one on the flyline.”
Then the right swell hit the boat with the right gust of wind, and the anchor started dragging right when it looked like they were going to seriously start hanging. They re-set and got anther seabass, but the Pyramid Cove bait grounds bite ended up just being a warm up for what was to come. A move to a kelp line ended up giving up limits of what Wisch called, “a beautiful grade of seabass in the high 20s to low 30s.” It was topped off by a seabass in the mid 40s.
In all his seabassing, Wisch never remembers getting into a November seabass bite at one of the islands, and “unequivocally not a wide-open seabass bite.”
He also heard that aside from Santa Barbara Island’s yellowtail and white seabass, and Anacapa’s yellowtail, there have been some seabass and yellows caught on the squid at Catalina. With Clemente scheduled to have lots of closures between now and Nov. 25, those islands will be getting some checks by the relatively few private boaters still charging heading towards Thanksgiving.
Captain Dave Hansen of Captain Dave’s Saltwater Guide Service ran Gordon Kortun’s 43-foot Mickelson, Reel Viking, to San Clemente Island to fish on Saturday.
“The squid was just as thick as it gets at sunrise in 110 feet of water in front of the Caves,” reported Hansen. “We were set up east of the fleet. I could see worms under the squid and then after grey all the rods went off. One of the guys said, ‘I think we swung over a rock’ but it wasn’t a rock—it was seabass. We went two for three, then hung two more and got one.”
A move in tight to the kelp found great bass fishing to go with a yellowtail to round out the day.
The squid in La Jolla Cove has drawn some private boaters, and those putting in the time have been able to scratch out a seabass if they put in the time and are sitting in the right spot.
Bob Vanian at 976bite.com did not have any offshore tuna reports for the week—yeah, the season is done—but he did receive a report from private boater Alan Petrasek on the Jersey Girl after Petrasek scored a 38-pound white seabass in La Jolla Cove Friday night.
For private boaters looking for the ultimate challenge, there were lots of swordfish up high and dry just outside the coast. Stick boats literally made their seasons last week.
“There are a good amount of swordfish around offshore,” said Vanian. “Commercial boats have been doing well all week with fish being found offshore between Dana Point and La Jolla. The best area within that zone has been the stretch between Carlsbad and Oceanside.”
Squid and seabass or fishing just a few miles offshore for the shot at a swordfish. Talk about some unique prospects for private boaters this month! VOLUME BEYOND VOLUME — This is without a doubt the most squid-filled fall in recent memory along the southern California coast. All the islands and coastal canyons are loaded with squid. Making bait has been as easy as turning on an underwater light and scooping up the candy.