Feature Article: WON Coroloma Charter

Fun-time as WON/Coroloma Charter fishes Santa Cruz Island for mixed bag

BY BOB SEMERAU/Western Outdoor News Staff WriterPublished: Aug 14, 2019

OXNARD — Anglers aboard Coroloma out of Hooks Landing for the 2019 Western Outdoor News charter found fun and fish at Santa Cruz Island this past weekend.

The run to the island got underway shortly after the scheduled 6 a.m. departure time as the group awaited a couple of late arrivals.

winningslimmerWINNING SLIMER, FOR Camarillo angler Justin Ogg, center, flanked by cousin Zachary Hoth, left, and grandpa Wade Wells.

While stowing gear aboard the 65-foot Coroloma, a huge spool of blue J-Braid in 50-pound test as well as spools of supple Sufix monofilament were put to use loading up reels before the 20- and 30-pound Top Knot fluorocarbon from trip sponsor Yo-Zuri was added to the rigs.

Captain Steve Earwood along with deckhands Eddie Green and Fin Armstrong had already loaded plenty of lively sardine for the trip, making a quick getaway possible.

At more than 60 years old, Coroloma is a well-seasoned but seaworthy sportfisher and she made the run to the islands in less than 2 hours despite the choppy seas. While heading offshore, the swag was doled out and each angler received a hook pack or two from VMC hooks. To cap off the swag-fest, four $50 gift cards from Turner’s Outdoorsman were raffled off.

While cruising out of the harbor, Captain Earwood gave the briefing about safety and what to expect from our fishing day ahead.

“We’ll head over to the outside of Santa Cruz towards Yellow Banks and fish in shallower water to start. If we don’t find much there, we’ll move off into deeper water to fill the sacks and get some rockfish,” explained the skipper over the p.a.

After a short two-hour run, Capt. Earwood set up Coroloma alongside Santa Cruz Island at Smuggler’s Cove. The perfect clear skies and almost no wind in the island’s lee meant little movement in the water. With no current to speak of, there was little action to be had close-in to the island.

11-POUND SHEEPHEAD for WON staffer Bob Semerau, right, shown by deckhand Eddy Green, as Captain Steve Earwood gives the thumbs up.

An occasional barracuda took a bait or jig but most were too small to keep. Angler Johnny Johnson found a keeper female sheephead and a tree fish or two came over the rail.

After a couple of moves closer in, Capt. Earwood move Coroloma offshore to deeper waters and the chance at bigger rockfish and sheephead.

A pick bite kept the boat relocating to find a spot of fish here and there. At one spot, two male sheephead, a 5.5-pound and an 11-pound goat, came to gaff for this reporter, giving encouragement to everyone fishing strip-squid on a double dropper loop in the 150-foot deep water.

Baits were pinned and tossed and the drifts seemed good, as did the water conditions, which were looking clear but cool at 62 degrees, but with few biters.

The skipper explained that the water was much cooler than during last year’s trip – a full 10 degrees in fact – and that would make fishing tough.

Earlier, while visiting with Mavette, the young woman managing the tackle shop and getting the boats away each day, we learned recent days counts had been sluggish and no pelagic fish had been in the mix in recent days.

Anglers were happy to see WON had sent along a variety of examples of the latest Daiwa line of rods and reels and the gear was often in use at the rail. The jackpot pool of $230 from WON and the boat jackpot were still up for grabs at noon when Coroloma moved back inside to Yellow Banks.

johnnyjacksonfoundJOHNNY JACKSON FOUND a lot of fish throughout the day, but got things started with the first fish for the charter with this “tastes like lobster” sheephead.

Frequent charter angler Wade Wells fished with his two young grandsons, both of whom managed to catch fish throughout the day.

Wade’s older grandson, 17-year-old Justin Ogg, put a couple of keeper ’cuda in the sack and one of the slimers would be a contender for the jackpot money. Justin and cousin Zachary Hoth, 14, both put fish on the deck and kept at the rail the entire fishing day.

Not satisfied with the pick bite, Capt. Earwood moved the boat once again and a last few fish came aboard from the deeper waters.

Gary Albright, who usually fishes with his lady-friend Carol Tenhet but this year drove down from Lake Isabella on his own, found several keepers including a larger-model tree fish.

This last stop of the day was the honey hole for whitefish with nearly 200 of the tasty ceviche and taco makers loading up the sacks.

Captain Steve Earwood has been fishing the Channel Islands for more than 20 years and knows where to find fish. After spending years as deck crew on local boats, Earwood earned his Captain’s license in 1997, but now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, coming down on weekends to skipper the Coroloma.

“My cousin asked me to work with him at his business in Vegas and I felt it was time for a change,” explained the Captain when asked about his decision to make such a big move.

The fish kept coming from the “whitefish spot” and local angler Marvin Dinovitz picked up doubles on a couple of drops.

Anglers Larry Bautista, Earl Griffin and Eric Leitzke bagged bigger whitefish as well. Eric is active duty military stationed at Port Hueneme and joined the WON-Coroloma charter for his first California fishing adventure.

TREE FISH CAME over the rail throughout the charter and this one for angler Gary Albright of Lake Isabella was typical of the size of the day.

Not long after the bite slacked just a bit, the call came for lines-up one last time as the boat headed back across the waters and a much smoother ride home to Channel Islands Harbor and the docks at Hooks Landing.

“It’s always fun to come out and fish the WON charters, even if the fishing is less than perfect. But that’s fishing!” said grandpa Wade Wells during the weigh-in for jackpot.

Wade, winner of a few past Western Outdoor News competitions himself, had reason to be happy and proud as it was grandson Justin Ogg’s barracuda that took top honors and all the prize money totaling $230 from WON plus the boat jackpot.

Final counts for the day showed fishing could have been better. With a perfect Southern California summer day, all-in-all not a bad day of fishing aboard a really nice boat with an excellent crew. For 24 anglers we found 1 rock sole, 191 ocean whitefish, 6 sheephead, 6 scorpionfish, 101 rockfish and 5 barracuda.

Contacts: Hooks Sportfishing, 3600 S. Harbor Boulevard # 115, Oxnard, CA 93035; (805) 382-6233

NICE PAIR OF WHITEFISH for Oxnard angler Marvin Dinovitz, who pulled in the duo on a single drop. One honey hole gave up close to 200 whitefish for the charter group.

COROLOMA SKIPPER Steve Earwood drives home after a long day at Santa Cruz Island.

WON STAFFER Bob Semerau hands over the cash, $230, to 17-year-old Camarillo angler Justin Ogg for his winning ’cuda.

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