|Coming off a full moon, dropping pressure, pretty killer low tides right before grey--it all looked like a pretty good set up for looking around for squid and seabass along the coast below Dana Point leading up to this little front.
The first part was making squid. I got out Wednesday night to look around and try to find some of this "missing" squid around Dana Point to fill the receiver at my slip with, and ended up finding a little bait spot above the Dana Point Harbor entrance. It was bright, brick red squid that looked like it had just moved into 15 to 18 fathoms of water. It floated pretty good for me, but then some buddies I told--including Cory Leiser on the sporboat Clemente--looked for it over the next couple nights and never saw any volume or made a stitch of bait. It's always good sending your buds on what turns into a goose chase. Here's some shots of the little floater I got going around the Hydro Glow/deck light combo. (It floated best when I hit the white deck light, which was kind of different.)
I thought I marked some fish in the dark, but who knows. But they looked like how seabass mark on my shitty little meter. With no bites and an uphill current shooting right into the swell, I decided to bail out and either fish the bait grounds again Friday pre grey or shoot down the coast and fish the structure spots. The run down the beach ended up winning.
The conditions looked really, really good from O.C./San Diego border on down to Pattersons. Clean green 59 degree water, big huge balls of anchovies and having squid in the tanks were a plus. The current was going in the wrong direction, as in uphill and up and out, so that took a few spots out of the equation, but in the end it was a little Pendleton reef where I spent my day off on Friday with my buddy Fields. And Fritz, as usual. Here he is checking out a bird school. I think he was saying, "Guys, guys... go fish this thing. Remember the seabass you got on a bird school like this last year to kick off your seabass season." (We stayed on the anchor, if I could rewind I would have ran on it.)
With the current running uphill we fished the reef for little halibut, bass and a big cabezon for an entire tide. Then in the afternoon we switched gears and fished halibut. We actually anchored up on the corner of the same reef and made casts in towards the little hard bottom that bowls into where the reef ramps up. Hard bottom and halibut have gone hand in hand along the coast this season, and one of the squid ended up getting bit by what felt like a huge halibut. I kept with my streak of blowing my shots at big flatties, this time breaking the 20-pound test above the swivel.
The drifts didn't go much better once we changed gears, although Fields got to catch and release his first black seabass while I got to say, "If someone told me I would never hook another black for the rest of my life, I'd be okay with it!" after releasing what felt like my black number 1,000 and something. Fields had a good bite on the squid and lost a halibut, then I did the same on one hooked on a little mackerel right after the gaff came out.
Words while taking a 14 mile pounding up the line: These halibut are going to do my head in!
Halibut are definitely the weakest part of my fishing game. (That's why there's never been a halibut column or piece in my books and the one halibut piece I've written was pretty much just an interview with Shawn Morgon when he ran the Icon.) But I know where they are living and will probably focus on halibut if I get out between now and Fred Hall Show.
I needed a new challenge anyways. As if trying to find winter white seabass along a stretch of coast that's been getting skipped over by the big schools of seabass the past two seasons wasn't enough.