BOB SEMERAU ON THE SPOT
SANTA BARBARA —Smooth waters and calm winds welcomed 29 anglers aboard the Santa Barbara SEA Landing sport boat, Stardust, for a quick ¾- day trip to the islands.
Capt. Jason Diamond, owner/operator of Stardust for the last 16 years, planned to run out to Santa Rosa Island and fish the Potato Patch just above Santa Cruz Island.
“We have plenty of frozen squid and these rockfish prefer it over fin-bait. We’ll load some ‘dines just to be safe and then be on our way!” explained the skipper just prior to a scheduled 7 a.m. departure.
The glass-smooth run out to Santa Rosa Island was a short 2 ½ hours and most of the way dolphins played all around Stardust. The recently refitted the galley and lounge area made for comfortable table seating as great breakfast sandwiches and burritos were served up by Casey Vaccarezza, a four-year veteran on Stardust.
Approaching the gap between the two islands anglers set up dropper loop rigs with 8- to 10-ounce torpedoes hanging below two size 1 or 2 bait hooks loaded with squid strips or live sardines, and all aboard stood at the rails ready to drop.
Captain Diamond called out “Let ‘em go!” in about 130 feet of water and the bite was on.
Crew members, Dane Johnson and “Cool-Cook Casey” worked the 64-foot boat getting fish into the bags while keeping tangles to a minimum.
Right off it became clear that Robert Berdan of Santa Barbara would be the hot stick of the trip.
“I’m fishing the corner and maybe that gives an edge,” explained Berdan when asked how he does it as he held his post in the port-stern quarter.
Not to be outdone, Gabe Velonza, also of Santa Barbara, hauled in a huge jackpot winning sheepshead late in the day when Stardust moved closer into the island shore. Velonza had fished commercially along the East coast for years.
“Coming out on a boat like this and fishing for rockfish is just plain fun and relaxing,” said Velonza with a wry smile.
UCSB Professor Milton Love was conducting a research study on the size of fish being taken by local boats and lab assistant Roy Qi measured every fish being bagged throughout the day.
Stardust kept on the move, running across the gap for most of the day and moving inshore from time to time. Plenty of action kept everyone busy throughout the day and the beautiful weather allowed novice and expert alike to get into the fish.
John Florence came out from Santa Ynez with his 6-year old Granddaughter, Asia for her first sportfishing adventure. The pair pulled in doubles on chucklehead of assorted sizes and built up a nice bagful of rockfish. Christopher Coyoli had traveled from San Francisco and took a few nice fish on his first outing to the Channel Islands.
SIX-YEAR-OLD ASIA FLORENCE and Grandpa John Florence of Santa Ynez put loads of chucklehead in the bag.
ROBERT BERDAN WAS THE HOT STICK while fishing the stern position aboard Stardust.
GABE VELONZA WITH JACKPOT-winning sheepshead displayed by “Cool-Cook Casey” Vaccarezza.
As 2 p.m. rolled around Capt. Diamond called for lines up and Stardust headed for the barn. Counts of 63 red snapper, 228 assorted rockfish, 5 whitefish and 1 big sheepshead made for some very good fillets when the deck crew started into the chore of cleaning the day’s catch.
SEA Landing and Stardust
301 W. Cabrillo Blvd.
Santa Barbara, CA. 93101
DYLAN SEMERAU, 13, caught plenty of blue bass while fishing the Potato Patch near Santa Rosa Island.
MOLLIE DAVIS FISHED with Gavin Studer for a bag-filling variety of rockfish.