"Fail. Fail again. Fail better." It's a great quote by Samuel Beckett.
"I haven't failed, I've had 10,000 ideas that haven't worked." An even better quote by Benjamin Franklin.
When it comes to skiff fishing for winter white seabass along the coast, there's going to be a lot of fails, a lot of trying different things--as in spots and time of day and tides and conditions--and "failing." But each fail is better than the last, as each one builds on itself and makes it that much sweeter if it comes together. It's a scaffolding of fails that often leads to success.
My buddy, WON ad rep Ben Babbitt, had a plan. Make squid where it's everywhere. Take squid where it's nowhere. It was just a matter or where. We had talked about it earlier in the week, and he ended up connecting with this beautiful 60.5-pound white seabass, putting him in the club:
The make-it, take-it plan involved making squid off Dana Point, and then launching out of Oceanside and posting up on a little kelp/reef set up that I had given him the numbers to. Ben charges hard and tries--a quality that is hard to find amongst modern-day skiff fishermen sometimes--and all the winter "fails" of this past season proved to not be fails, but rather building blocks. Not wanting to deal with the bass that have made it tough to fish the squid in the dark around Dana Point, he thought outside the box and was rewarded.
You shouldn't be thinking about "where'd he catch it, exactly? I want to go there right now!" No. The thoughts should be around how making some squid and taking it somewhere else can pay off huge this winter. There's a laundry list of spots from Rocky Point to La Jolla that have the potential. Most of them only can handle a boat or two or maybe three on them. Local seabass, after all, bear few similarities to island fish. But having squid is key no matter where you are or what you are doing to time of year. Just add squid. It's been the common theme to all the local fishing going on, from bass to halibut.
There's been word of other big, local seabass being caught, most by guys that are not saying a peep. But word did come--through facebook posts by guys up in L.A. of all things--that there were some big seabass caught in the squid in the Huntington Flats. Who exactly, and how big hasn't exactly popped up. But if there's a story behind it, it'll be in next week's private boater's spotlight.
As for my trip that stuck it out along the coast for two days, on the surface, it would seem like I failed. The first night my anchor drug in 20 knots of offshore wind and being solo meant just riding it out, the two good bites I had in the rod holder in the dark didn't stick, my squid died, and I got the living crap kicked out of me running up the line Saturday morning, with the stretch from Patterson's Kelp to San Onofre being particularly gnarly thanks to 17 knots of southwest wind and a little combo swell.
But it was far from a fail. It just showed where to go on this next moon phase with a new shot of anchor chain, less time in the sleeping bag, another tank of squid and good weather, on both ends of the trip.
Congrats Babbitt. You deserve it!
(Sunday Note: Look for a new blog Monday night. A fish this worthy deserves more than a day...)