OXNARD — And then, the best place to be for exotics wasn’t the coast, but the islands.
The coast backed off some and the islands were right there to pick up the slack, with huge seabass and yellowtail found at Santa Cruz, days for limits at the little island (SBI) that’s been kicking out the big scores this spring. Toss in yellowtail and excellent calico fishing at the one island that had been lacking this season, to go with Catalina giving up it’s first big ¾-day hits on the seabass to go with over 100 calico bass a trip, and it’s safe to say the islands are styling.
The incredible seabass bites off Port Hueneme and County Line finally succumbed mid week, when scores went from double digits to single digits and mostly goose eggs. But Santa Cruz was right there to pick up the slack, with some huge seabass as well as yellowtail, and the halibut and the calico bass that the biggest of SoCal’s islands is known for. The seabass were not the small models that often bite at the island. Seabass pushing 60 pounds were reported out of the bite.
The fishing at Cruz drew the attention of overnight and multi-day boats. The Ranger 85 out of Channel Islands Sportfishing Center was out on a 2-day trip over the weekend. To go with the huge rockfish score of 630 rockfish and 30 lings were 24 white seabass, 1 halibut and 51 barracuda.
Dustin Tench on the Ranger 85 reported that live squid is what did the trick on the islands croaker, giving the Ranger its best exotic score of the year. The grade really made the score standout, too, with the biggest seabass a 55 pounder for Eliazar Villegas. The Mirage also got in on the action at Santa Cruz, as seen by 59 calico bass being in the Sunday score to go with 8 white seabass, 1 halibut, 37 barracuda and a bunch of bottom biters. The Pacific Islander posted 4 white seabass and a halibut, while the Sea Jay found its first two yellowtail of the year on Sunday. To add to the Channel Islands prospects, there’s been signal on the yellowtail at Anacapa for the first time this year,
Greg Ewerd at Ventura Sportfishing reported that the Pacific Dawn had a sample on the monster croaker, and for once they were not caught along the beach. The Santa Cruz bite gave up 58 and 59-pound seabass, the biggest seabass for the Pacific Dawn since Pat Cavanaugh bought the boat. A total of 5 white seabass to go with 90 calico bass, 9 barracuda and a few bottom fish rounded out the counts.
So far the bite at Santa Cruz has been an early one for overnight boats.
Another Channel Island bit really good, with the Dreamer’s limits for passengers and crew — 27 white seabass — that wasn’t turned in for an actual fish count being reported as coming from Santa Barbara Island. Skipper Allyn Watson might not turn in his charter boat’s counts, but make no mistake: he’s the best in the seabass business out of L.A. County and he’s putting together some great trips for his charters. Also posting the other 3-fish limits score the week that the limit went to 3fish was the Outrider out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro.
22nd Street was a hotbed of seabass activity during the week. The Pursuit put together it’s best count of the year — and the biggest ¾-day score at Catalina for the spring, on Tuesday when 22 white seabass to 40 pounds hit the deck to go with 162 calico bass, 25 sheephead, 12 rockfish and 125 perch.
“There’s been some real good fishing for us over here at Catalina Island. We’ve been getting over 100 on the calico bass every trip, and there’s enough seabass over here to keep it interesting, that’s for sure,” said John Woodrum, skipper of the Pursuit, which does 6 a.m. full-day trips out of 22nd Street in San Pedro. Woodrum is doing whatever it takes to have live squid, and he reported Monday morning that he was getting bait from the Long Beach Carnage at Catalina Island. The MarDiosa has been picking away real steady at Catalina. On Saturday it had 4 white seabass and a yellowtail to go with limits of calico bass for its 6 people.
San Clemente Island finally showed some signs of getting with the program, with good yellowtail signal at the island to go with excellent calico bass fishing. The Fortune out of 22nd Street Landing had 6 yellowtail at Clemente on Sunday, and the Oceanside 95 out of Helgren’s in Oceanside put 9 yellows on the deck on its last trip to Clemente. For once the yellowtail are not on squid or on the backside squid grounds or in Pyramid Cove, but rather there is good signal on the frontside of Clemente, like along the zone that includes White Rock and Purse Seine.
The story at the Coronados remains the same: shifty water temperatures and conditions. The fishing in the flats inside the islands drew many ¾-day boat to the inside. But on Friday there were some yellowtail counts at the islands, actually the Rockpile below the islands. That’s when the Mission Belle scored 9 yellowtail, the Malihini had 8 and the San Diego posted 14 yellowtail.
BIG DAY ON THE PURSUIT — An afternoon hit on the Pursuit made for a great day at Catalina last week. The 23 anglers on the full-day trip out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro scored 22 white seabass to 38 pounds. Skipper John Woodrum got all tanked up with squid Monday morning and it trying to have live squid for all his trips this week.
ISLAND TANKERS — Santa Cruz Island became the newest spot for giant white seabass last week after the Ventura coastline finally petered out in kicking out huge white seabass — both scores and overall grade. The Pacific Dawn was on the giants on Sunday with Johnny Ewerd, middle, at the helm. Louise Capistro scored a 58.5 pounder and Randy Corbin was right behind with a 57.5 pounder. They were the biggest white seabass to hit the deck since Pat Cavanaugh has owned the boat.