Surviving a squid-fueled feeding frenzy at La Jolla
Chaotic bumper boat conditions in the dead of winter. Who’d of thunk
we’d see summer-like crowds of private boaters jostling for position
with an oversized plastic flotilla? Just a few years ago such a scene
would have been unimaginable, but no longer. The word is out on La
Jolla’s torrid winter squid bites, when the usually wary homeguard
yellows go on the rampage and seabass snap with abandon.
Whether we’ll experience such silliness this year is an open question.
January was washed out. Only time will tell if that rascal El Nino’s
tantrums put a damper on the entire season.
I’m not going to tell you how to cash in if the history of the past few
years repeats. For those who are there when it’s at its nutty best, the
hardest part of hooking up is paddling out in the pitch black and one
way or another loading up on candy – the squid that start this party.
You don’t need me to tell you there’s a lunar element to this game.
What’s interesting to me is that despite fishing elbow to elbow once
word of a good squid float gets out, the scene has been pretty
peaceful. Some of our better equipped private boat brothers generously
hand off charity baits, while others wave kayakers over to pump in-line
squid jigs in their lights.
We need this sort of friendly spirit more than ever now that the MLPA
is breathing down our necks. The leading closure proposal brackets La
Jolla north and south. Odds are in the future we’ll have no choice but
put up with this sort of crowding, so we might as well learn to live
If the positive trend is to continue, we must to do our part. We forget
at times that we’re darn near invisible to boaters – and that’s on a
good day. Throw in a dark, roilly ocean and we’re asking the
impossible. None of us needs to start our fishing day with a terrifying
near miss or worse. It’s a worry for the private boaters too. More than
one’s told me of a close call with a kayak unseen until the last
moment. The last thing they want to do is hit one of us.
The next few paragraphs should please WON Editorial Director Pat
McDonell no end. He won’t be alone. If you’re going to join the La
Jolla squid party, a cheap headlamp just won’t cut it. Boaters motoring
out from Mission Bay can’t see these pip-squeak lights even when
they’re travelling at a sedate 10 knots. The situation calls for a
bright 360 degree beacon.
What are the options? As far as commercially made products designed
specifically for paddlers go, Scotty’s pole-mounted SEA Light is
readily available. Unfortunately, this gizmo does only a fair job in
this demanding situation. The SEA Light isn’t particularly bright, and
has only a narrow beam. That gives it the appearance of a watered down
blinker unless the ocean is flat calm.
The VISIPole hit the market a little more than a year ago. Made by
YakAttack (yakattack.us), a small company founded by a pair of kayak
fish crazy engineers, this pole-mounted light is an all-around winner.
For starters, at a hair over 4 feet long, the bright omni directional
Tektite dual LED lamp on top perches well overhead. Reflective
materials improve low-light performance, and get this, the VISIPole
Now for the rest of the story. This thing doubles as a flag pole for
enhanced daylight visibility, something private boaters who ply popular
kayak waters would love to see. The Orange model sports a 12 by 18 in
safety flag, but I have a feeling most of the old guard will prefer the
Jolly Roger or Patriot versions. All of them kick the snot out of the
whippy fiberglass bicycle safety sticks with the obnoxious little
triangular pennants some boaters would like imposed on us. Still don’t
want a flag? Removal takes moments, leaving the excellent VISIPole
intact for lobster hooping and other night time sorties. A bare bones
model is also available.
Whether you take the time to light your kayak is a matter of personal
choice. The Coast Guard doesn’t require much of night paddlers, just a
bright light ready at hand. It doesn’t even have to be turned on. I
can’t imagine those who drafted the regulation pictured fleets of
fishing kayakers out at night amidst a crowd of power boats. Let’s stay
below official notice, and avoid incidents that might lead to more
onerous requirements. Before you join the La Jolla mayhem this winter,
add a side of safety to your winter serving of hamachi and biscuits.
2010’s competition calendar gets off to an early start for kayakers
OCEANSIDE -- Kayak anglers who spice up their outings with the zest of
competition can shake off the winter doldrums early this year. Rather
than wait for the Fred Hall Shows, the de facto signal its go time for
the season, two organizations are getting a jump on the gun.
Up first is the OEX Tournament Trail’s Oceanside outing on Feb 20. It’s
an early start for the five event pro-style catch and release saltwater
bass series. There’s a renewed emphasis on welcoming new competitors,
who enjoy special incentives, but in most respects this points race
follows its time-tested formula. Entry fee is a low $25 in advance;
fish one or all. Optional $10 jackpot. Grand prize kayak, BBQ and
raffle. Learn more at AllKayakFishing.com.
The Chula Vista Yacht Club hosts its second annual South Bay Kayak
Fishing Tournament on Feb 27. This one is special, contested in a
terrific but underrated fishery featuring plentiful spotted bay bass
and all manner of exotics. Both the contest and tournament site are as
beginner friendly as they come. $50, with captain’s bags for the first
50 entrants. Catch and release bass and mixed bag categories; junior
angler and big fish ($500 min) awards. The event benefits a good cause,
the Chula Vista Nature Center. T-shirt, BBQ, and raffle following.
Visit cvyc.org for more important details.
• SAFETY AND A PATRIOTIC STATEMENT – Kayak anglers who venture out at night, particularly into a crowded La Jolla squid frenzy, finally have a superior safety solution. The omni directional VISIPole light is bright and mounted well above the paddler’s head for superior visibility. During daylight hours, it doubles as a flag pole.
• LA JOLLA’S WINTER SQUID BITE YIELDS BIG REWARDS – When the squid float, the local trophies chew with abandon. Will it happen again this year? El Nino should have something to say about that. This nice biscuit was tallied by Al Drake during a prior season.