PRIVATE BOATER'S SPOTLIGHT...
WHO NEEDS BASS WHEN YOU’VE GOT ’BUTS? — Fishing buddies Erik Ellingsen and Kurt VonHerzen hit the water this past weekend hoping to tap into the white seabass bite that has been going off. The two fished on VonHerzen’s 25-foot AquaPro hardtop, the El Lobo, out of Newport and made their way south. Reef No. 2 yielded a donut, then Salt Creek kicked out a couple lizard fish, and the guys continued south to the Domes. The two were rewarded with three great-looking ’buts… a 32 pounder, a 40 pounder and a 45.5 pounder rounding out the catch. They also hooked two approximately 50-pound black seabass that were successfully resuscitated and released. Who needs white seabass when you’ve got ’buts?
New areas of summer squid drew the masses, as huge white seabass gave anglers something to sink their teeth into; along with huge halibut, yellowtail and the best bass and barracuda fishing off Long Beach in years.
County Line gave up an “805 bite” and the uppermost shots at exotics in the process, as kayakers and skiffs got into the bite before the crowd shut it down on Saturday. Ginny Wylie at Wylie’s Bait and Tackle reported “all the kayaks that fished County Line on Saturday had seabass.”
The Santa Monica Bay also had some squid move in, and a squid bed off the Hermosa Pier gave up some white seabass to go with a few halibut. Pete Wilkowski at Just Fishing reported the lower end of the bay really got with the program over the weekend, with the small charter boat Highliner getting its first seabass of the season to go with a pair of halibut.
“There’s seabass in the kelp around Rocky (Point) and some good bass fishing to go with the halibut… all of a sudden it’s crazy around here,” added Wilkowski.
Speaking of crazy, some huge halibut have been caught up and down the coast — especially off Camp Pendleton — and at the islands. The biggest halibut of the week was a 55.7 pounder caught at Anacapa Island. Doug Vernan at Channel Islands Sportfishing Center reported that Travis Junga weighed in the 55.7 pounder at Anacapa. The Channel Islands are really starting to get with it, thanks to halibut, white seabass, calico bass and barracuda popping up at Santa Cruz and white seabass and halibut in the squid at Santa Rosa.
Moving back along the coast, Mark Wisch at Pacific Edge reported the white seabass action has piqued the interest of exotic hunters, although incredible bass and barracuda fishing (not in his exact words) off Long Beach has been providing options for private boaters looking for bites.
“Thank God we’ve got some barracuda and sand bass to work with in the Huntington Beach sector,” said Wisch, who was fishing the Newport Artifical Reef for good bass fishing in 64.5- to 65-degree water when WON talked to him Sunday night. On the island/seabass/squid front, all signs point to improvement at Catalina coming off this moon phase. “There have been fish (seabass) caught from the frontside west, middle of the front, and backside east,” said Wisch, who added that squid has been more readily available at the island, as well.
Still, the big news was the County Line seabass bite — which died on Sunday — and the bite on seabass at Santa Barbara Island for the Outrider and the few skiffs that fished it.
First on the exotic, did-that-happen(?) list is that of a customer of Wisch’s reporting catching two dorado on the troll out three miles in front of Long Beach over Memorial Day. “The guy’s fished in Cabo and came into the shop (Pacific Edge) and pointed right at a dorado on the wall, so who knows…” finished Wisch.
The bite on white seabass and yellowtail down off the checkpoint below San Onofre had more halibut than anything else get caught as the bite really tapered off on the seabass and only a few boats scored seabass heading towards the full moon. Halibut to 51 pounds were reported out of the bite.
The crowd has been heavy many nights, and roughly one in 10 reported getting a seabass over the weekend. WON Saltwater Editor Brandon Hayward reported fishing the bite two nights last week, Monday night with Jim Mickelson and Saturday with Greg Trompas. Both trips scored 40-pound class seabass for Mickelson and Trompas while fishing a new squid nest that sprouted up 1.1 miles into the east from the zone that was kicking out fish at the beginning of the bite.
“I feel fortunate that I fished the stuff five times over the past two weeks and got fish on all the trips,” said Hayward. “I know a lot of boats missed and got aggravated; the best tip I can give is to try and find the egg nests where the squid concentrations are at their highest. On Saturday, it was me and Trompas on my boat, Danny Uribe of Arribe Manufacturing and his buds on the 47 Cabo Provider and Gene Wessel on his Parker that had the top end of the egg nest sewn up. We all got one seabass, but we only saw two others caught by the 30-plus boats within plain sight.”
NORTHERN ZONE — Greg Trompas usually fishes around La Jolla, but he made the trek up to Orange County to fish with WON Saltwater Editor Brandon Hayward on Hayward’s 17-foot Arima. Trompas picked this “average” seabass on a live squid fished on a dropper loop with 40-pound PLine CXX.