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Feature Article: WON/Aloha Spirit Chater

WON-Aloha Spirit charter challenges anglers at Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands

BY BOB SEMERAU/WON Staff WriterPublished: Oct 11, 2017

OXNARD — This year’s Aloha Spirit/Western Outdoor News charter out of Channel Islands Sportfishing ran to the islands under overcast skies following the 5:00 a.m. departure.

Gloomy clouds and imposing drifts of fog threw a foreboding pall over the anglers who had been hoping to get in on some of the warm, Indian summer weather of recent days.

jackpotcalicowasJACKPOT CALICO WAS the biggest fish of the day, giving Hector Barragan bragging rights and $200.00 pair of Costa Sunglasses.

The 50-foot sportfisher left CISCOS and headed south to the islands as the raft of prizes for the WON-charter raffle were given away. Four of the Turner’s Outdoorsman $50 gift cards, Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon, Costa hats and koozies, and VMC hook packs for all aboard, were among the list of prizes sent along by charter sponsors. Spools of 50- and 65-pound Daiwa J-Braid as well as huge rolls of 20- and 30-pound Sufix monofilament were available for every angler to spool up their reels. Captain Alex Edwards, piloting Aloha Spirit for this trip, was given a pair of Costa sunglasses valued at over $200. One lucky angler would not only win the day’s jackpot money for having the largest fish of the day, but would also go home with a pair of the stylish fishing shades.

Just to be certain everyone knew what the day would be about deckhand Gage Foster took to the bait tank to give everyone a rundown. The bright, young crew member explained the right rigging for the upcoming action and offered that both he and Kenny Balkcom would be happy to help with tying up, or any words of advice on hook size or jig selection.

Running out to the islands was a breeze taking just 1½  hours to Anacapa Island’s west end, and a shot at yellowtail. Previous days trips to this spot had produced plenty of the pelagic fish for the boat. On this trip, however, the 20 anglers knew they were in for a tough day on the water when Captain Edwards set up the first spot only to have no action after 30-minutes.

“Let’s poke around here on the backside and see what we can find,” call Capt. Edwards as deckhand Kenny Balkcom pulled the anchor. “If we don’t see anything back there we’ll go to a special spot over on the backside of Santa Cruz.”

Spirits lifted when Los Angeles angler, Roberto Ruiz, boated a keeper calico bass to finally break the ice for the boat after nearly 2 hours of soaking baits and tossing jigs.

islandcalicomadeISLAND CALICO MADE up catch of the day aboard Aloha Spirit for Western Outdoor News charter. Roberto Ruiz, Los Angeles, right, landed this bass, shown by deckhand Gage Foster, early in the trip

Several moves along the backside of Anacapa produced but a few more calico and no sign of the elusive forkies seen in recent days. The decision on the hour-long run to Santa Cruz was made and Capt. Edwards slid Aloha Spirit across the cap and up quite a distance past Yellow Banks.

The good news of the day was that in the galley a very special treat awaited hungry anglers, that would help make the long move easier on everyone. Anne Levinson cooks aboard the boat a few days a week, as well as aboard Gentleman, another of the CISCO’s fleet.

Anne’s breakfast offering for this trip was a Berry Bread French Toast with bacon and eggs, if you wish. Delicious does not begin to say enough for this dish.

Arriving at the new zone, anglers hit the rails with a renewed spirit and quickly found little to write home about.

Jigs were run deep in yo-yo style, perfectly cured sardines were soaked on fly-line and egg-sinker rigs, and some anglers tried plastics and leadheads, just to mix things up, but nothing was going to make the fish bite. Was it the 69-degree water? The little-to-no current? The phase of the moon? All agreed it was hard to say why, but this trip looked to be showing less than stellar results.

“We did really well here the last time we fished it” was the call from Capt. Edwards as he re-set the boat once again.

The area, known as Yellow Bank, has always given up some bigger fish, but this day was to be the exception. Eddie and Hector Barragan, brothers from the area near the landing, come out on the Western Outdoor News charters often and make their own charters throughout the year.

Both brothers worked the rail but only Hector managed to bag a couple of decent sized calico to add to the count, with one being the largest fish of the day to win jackpot and the valuable Costa Sunglasses.

Like a ray of hope that quickly faded away, the sun broke through and was hidden by fog and clouds once again in the early afternoon.

michaelbuckleftMICHAEL BUCK, LEFT, bagged a legal calico, hoisted here by deckhand Gage Foster.

Frequent WON-Charter angler, Mike Buck, of Carpinteria, landed a sizable forkie here last year on the WON/Aloha Spirit 2016 charter, as did several other returning anglers aboard. Santa Barbara angler, Ed Bath, bagged a legal kelp bass as did a few other anglers during this difficult day at the islands.

With the day wearing on, Capt. Edwards called for lines up and made a big move.

“We’ll run back to Anacapa as some of the boats have found yellowtail out on the west end,” explained the skipper.

“I am seeing marks on the sonar,” said the skipper, 65 minutes later. “Everybody, get your baits in the water, there’s a big school right under us,” came the excited call as Aloha Spirit stopped short of the west end of the island.

Despite the marks and quick action by anglers tossing in fresh sardines and jigs, no biters were found. A short 3⁄4-hour passed to finish out the day and soon the call came at last for “lines up and let’s head for home,” from the Captain.

Final counts showed just 11 kelp bass for the 20-anglers aboard Aloha Spirit for the Western Outdoor News 2017 charter. For some, the adventure would be one to keep in mind. For most, the trip would be a small footnote in their fishing journals, marking a day to remember to forget.


Aloha Spirit Sportfishing,; (805) 382-1612.

Channel Islands Sport­fishing;; (805) 382-1612.

ANNE LEVINSON, COOK aboard Aloha Spirit, was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy day. Try her Berry Bread French Toast for a special treat.

The Longfin Tackle Shop
The Longfin Tackle Shop