Paul Lebowitz – IT'S JUST FISHING

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This is one of those columns, the kind in which the writer greedily grabs at all the low-hanging fruit. Don’t blame me too much; I’ve been slammed by the MLPA beast, spending all my time cooped up in meeting rooms or on the phone. At least the company is good, a fine collection of tireless fishing folk who are fighting for livable solution.

As far as kayak anglers are concerned, the South Coast MLPA draft closure maps promise pleasure or pain and nothing in between. The current preservationist plans would make it a clean sweep, slamming the door on all of La Jolla, Dana Pt north of the harbor, and BKR on up to Dume in Malibu. That’s basically our holy trinity. This is my vision of hell.

In contrast, the maps supported by your fishing stakeholders wouldn’t take much of a toll on kayak anglers, leaving all of the major spots open. That’s not to say it would be bloodless; I’ve already heard from several anguished kayak anglers who’d lose their favorite spots forever. To them I say I’m eternally sorry. We’re doing our best to limit the damage to the fewest people possible. As long as the MLPA is state law, the required MPAs must go somewhere. Keep in mind this is only round one; with two more to go, the final result will be in doubt for months to come. Use the time to speak your mind.   

All right, that’s enough of the fisheries politics. Let’s get on the water.

By now, anyone with a WON subscription knows kayakers started picking up the odd ghost at La Jolla a few days before the Hall Show hit Del Mar. It’s no longer a secret; many of these fish are coming from deep in the weeds, from places that only a diver or ‘yakker can reach. Squid and spectra make a powerful combination for those with the know-how and stamina to make it happen.  

This is on the heels of the squid-fueled yellowtail invasion roughly a month back, a bite found and exclusively enjoyed by kayak anglers for a few days. Then word leaked as it inevitably must, and private boaters and commercial squidders showed up for a piece of the action.

How the word got out is a point of great debate, but this much is certain. If it makes it onto the internet (webcam anyone?) or into the ether via VHF, the entire world will soon know. Those who want to keep the secret should revert to comms that don’t carry beyond shouting distance (the Mk I Voicebox), or invest in handheld VHFs with DSC. The Standard Horizon HX850 is one possible example of a compact radio that works on the down-low.

Between the two bites, the Black Pearl ran a mothership trip to the Channel Islands. As sometimes happens, the weather didn’t cooperate, so long-time LA area ‘yakker Lou Cimieri’s charter group ended up fishing day two from the big boat. Believe me, the water taxi that doubles as a sportfisher is a wonderful second option.

Although that particular trip didn’t hit the CI paydirt – plump shallow water rockfish, calicos thick as fleas and just hungry, rarely fished beaches paved with halibut and surf zones plugged with jumbo perch, and the fish of every kayak angler’s dreams, white seabass (too early) – those on the boat caught a glimpse of the possibilities. Definitely worth another look later in the year.

Here’s another mothership option, one of several to pop up recently. The difference with Fish Doc Charters is it’s a 4-pack. Owner / operator Jim Carter said he can offer some kayak experiences that aren’t available on the larger sportboats. When I bumped into him at Fred Hall Del Mar, Carter talked about the possibility of paddy-hopping later in the year once the water warms, or even tracking down tuna. It’s been done before – I remember a certain someone was ‘trolled’ behind a cruiser in the midst of a wide-open albacore bite. I don’t think that’s what Carter has in mind. Find out for yourself at  

WON’s own kayak mothership charter is coming up soon, a 1.5-day jaunt over to beautiful San Clemente Island on the appropriately named Islander. The trip departs the evening of April 24, fishes all day Saturday, then arrives back in San Diego on Sunday April 26 around breakfast time. The cost is $285, including all meals, bait, and stateroom accommodations. There are a few spots left; to book one, call WON’s Mike Flynn at 949-366-0030 x30. And bring plenty of FlexWrap; you don’t want calico thumb (well I do). Halibut are another likely score, and then there’s almost always a shot at a yellow.

The name Baytubers pops up in this column from time to time, with good reason. This is as friendly a group of reformed shark donut riders as you’d hope to find. Now almost all on kayaks, these masters of halibut hunting host monthly fishing contests topped off with culinary throw-downs that really don’t deserve the moniker ‘pot-luck.’ Then again, sometimes they end up all wet, just like anyone else who kayaks for his fish. On a recent visit to La Jolla, several Baytubers crashed in the surf, but these guys are much too full of aloha to get mad at Mother Nature. Instead they laughed off their misadventures in one of the most hilarious postings I’ve ever come across on a message board. Kudos on the light-hearted carnage.

And finally to wrap up this mixed bag, mark you calendars for Peskayak’s 2009 Ensenda kayak fishing tournament. This year’s edition is headed back to Hotel Coral. $40 US gets an angler an event shirt, BBQ lunch, possible prizes and gifts, and a night of free camping. Oh yeah, a great day of kayak fishing south of the border too. The date? July 19. A travel escort will be available. Contact event sponsor OEX Kearney Mesa for more information.

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