Accurate Fishing Products


Feature Article: Black Pearl

The Pleasure of the Black Pearl: Overnight trips to Central CA waters

BY BOB SEMERAU/WON Staff WriterPublished: Nov 29, 2018

MORRO BAY — All-too-infrequent overnight runs aboard Black Pearl, the 65-foot sportfisher out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay give the best chance at big lingcod, reds, and other assorted rockfish.

The trips run northward to a spot offshore from Sand Dollar Beach, way above Point Piedras Blancas, and can give up limits of lingcod and larger model reds and chuckle head.

DALE CARLTON, LEFT, with 32-pound hitchhiking ling, gaffed by Black Pearl’s, Deckhand Drew.

“There is very little pressure on the area up that far,” explained landing manager Bruce Harwood, who was along for a recent exciting run north.

The opportunity to fish with Captain “Grandpa” Albert Gregg running the boat, and owner/operator Lisa Tardif along as well, made this reporter and associate Ted Reed jump at the chance to get on board.

The drive up to Morro Bay gave some time to think about the fishing to come. The possibility of bagging huge lingcod made the miles fly by when, after some time had passed, the huge, iconic rock in the bay loomed on the horizon.

At the appointed hour of 8:00 p.m. passengers loaded up and shortly after, Black Pearl began the trek northward under overcast skies and over calm seas.

The large and comfortable bunks allowed a good night’s rest for the anglers after enjoying a bowl of Lisa’s hearty stew.

Sometime in the dark of night the engines eased, and the boat set up to make squid among a dozen other boats doing the same, or fishing for white sea bass. After a couple of hours efforts at the squid banks, just a very few pieces of the candy bait were taken, and the boat continued rolling to the north.

At grey light, Captain Grandpa set up the first drift and some special rigs were put into play.

WON associate, Ted Reed, had tied up a “lingcod special” rig using a large 5-0 sized hook snelled above a treble hook, some 6” behind as a stinger. A whole frozen mackerel is pinned through the nose onto the single hook, and the treble hook worked into the underside of the bait. The whole rig is fished on a reverse dropper loop with 8-to-12-ounces of weight run out to the bottom, some 200-feet below.

Only moments passed before the bait was slammed by the first ling of the day and the battle was on.

MATT TIMMER, CENTER, brought his two boys out on their first-ever overnight fishing trip and both Kyle, left, and Jake, right, nailed big ling for limits.

Three generations of the Clauson family came out and fished together with young Kelsie Clauson, 16-years old from Porterville, getting her largest red and a couple of ling of her own.

Tangles are part of fishing any party boat experience, and even on a limited load trip of just 22-anglers, they are bound to happen. The crew showed some amazing skills at undoing the macramé with a minimum of lost fish or down time at the rail.

Something special about the Black Pearl is the sense of family, from Captain Grandpa, Kaitlen in the galley, and to Lisa out on deck. Even the regular deck crew makes it their mission to give each angler enough support and attention to make them feel at ease.

For experienced anglers and newcomers alike, it’s that kind of service that makes all the difference.

Arroyo Grande angler Matt Timmer brought out his two boys, Jake, 14, and Kyle, 12-years-old, for their first overnight fishing trip. The two boys schooled Dad by nailing several large lingcod including one each approaching 20-pounds apiece. All the while the deck crew was right alongside, giving advice and ready with he gaff at just the right moment.

The morning saw a parade of bucket-mouthed lingcod hit the decks of Black Pearl, along with a limit of huge reds, chucklehead, and other assorted rockfish, taken throughout the day.

This reporter scored a personal best California ling with a 24 pounder taken during one frenzied hour of action on the snakelike beasts.

But it was Dale Carlton of Porterville that bagged the big one, with a 32-pound ling on the last stop of the day. Carlton had just sent down his offering to the 180-foot deep bottom when a smaller red took the jig followed by the behemoth ling eating that.

WON ASSOCIATE, Ted Reed, left and WON staffer, Bob Semerau with a couple of legal ling from the overnight trip aboard Black Pearl out of Virg’s Landing.

“The 32-pound ling is the largest we have ever taken aboard Black Pearl,” grinned owner/operator Lisa Tardif, always available to help around the deck and in the galley, along with daughter, Kaitlen Cox. “We see plenty of big ling on these overnight trips but this one is amazingly big!”

Black Pearl is new to the Virg’s Landing fleet, and only this year has begun to show incredible numbers for the landing.

This December 8, the boat will host the final day of competition for the annual lingcod championship held by Virg’s over the course of the rockfish season. Known as the John Rowley’s Biggest-Baddest Lingcod Competition 2018, prize money of $10,000 will be up for grabs in the one-day shoot-out. Carlton’s 32-pound ling will certainly put him in the running for a spot aboard Black Pearl and a chance to get into the history books.

Running on the overnight trip means fishing waters under very little pressure and getting limits on nearly every trip. A recent overnight trip, returning Nov. 17, showed 20 anglers getting limits of rockfish and ling for the boat, with 105 reds, 95 assorted rockfish and 40 lingcod.

Landing manager, Bruce Harwood said the landing now offers a “reverse overnight trips,” departing around noon and fishing for a two-day limit all the way up to areas above Piedras Blancas.

“We anticipate these trips to be a great opportunity for anglers to maximize their potential for limits of rockfish and some really big lingcod,” said the very excited landing manager.

Totals for 22 anglers on this overnight trip: 148 rockfish, 72 red rockfish, and 44 lingcod.

Contact info:

Virg’s Landing, 1169 Market Ave. Morro Bay, CA 93442, (805) 772-1222,

Black Pearl ,, (323) 500-3085

22-POUND LING for young angler Jake Timmer, of Arroyo Grande, aboard Black Pearl for his first overnight fishing trip.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Advertise with Western Outdoor News