CISCO’s May Wrap up / June Outlook
By Joe Sarmiento
In last month’s post, we had just begun to see some barracuda show up and get caught in our local waters. Along with the barracuda, our captains started to see some indication of squid here in the Channel Islands. Put those two things together and the expectation is that white seabass season will be upon us soon.
Sure enough, things kicked off early in the month when Capt. Shawn Steward fooled a white seabass into biting his jig on Cinco de Mayo aboard his boat the Aloha Spirit.
After that first fish, we had a lot of wind in the islands and the boats mostly didn’t go out for almost a week. When they did though, the seabass bite was still there. Seabass fever had come to the Channel Islands! By mid-month, a wide open seabass bite blossomed that lasted for several days with many boats reporting daily limits of the elusive fish, and included several yellowtail and halibut in the counts. Anglers fishing CISCO’s had their opportunities to catch trophy fish on ¾ day boats like the Gentleman, to multiday trips aboard the Ranger 85 and every other boat in the fleet in between!
Amid the seabass fervor, one notable catch for May was a 50 lb. yellowtail caught aboard the Cobra by the mother/daughter team of Julie and Nicole Reed of Palmdale. When the limit style seabass fishing slowed down, halibut continued strong to fill the void. Angler Tony Najafi of Calabasas caught his first ever halibut, a nice 25 lb. fish, aboard the Cobra on May 26th.
Capt. Shawn Steward with the first wsb of 2014
Mother/Daughter Team of Julie and Nicole Reed of Palmdale with Cobra deckhand Keith Ballard
Tony Najafi with his first ever halibut aboard the Cobra
During that big seabass bite in May, the bite was concentrated near the landing, right next to the Anacapa Arch. That area is still producing fish, but what’s exciting is that the bite is spreading around to the other islands as well with fish coming recently at both Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.
Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to ride 3 of the boats in the fleet, the Cobra (May 19th), the Speed Twin (5/31) and the Seabiscuit (6/1). The Cobra trip (4am to 4pm) was smack in the middle of the hot bite and our boat got 10 white seabass and a nice halibut for the day. All of our fish were taken in that same area by the Arch where the fleet was concentrated.
On the Speed Twin (extended half day boat – 8am to 4pm), we started out hunting for barracuda and finished the day rockfishing working Anacapa and the east end of Santa Cruz Islands. The Twin is a very child friendly boat that I like to ride when I bring my kids up with me. I enjoyed a leisurely day onboard. At one point, I had an opportunity to catch what I believe was a very big lingcod based on the bite mark left on the small bocaccio that had bitten my hook!
That night, I got on the Seabiscuit for an overnight trip. We made squid at Santa Cruz Island, then proceeded on to Santa Rosa to target seabass during the early morning grey light.
The overnight and longer fleet was all there in the same area and the boats did well. Our boat got 4 white seabass. The Pacific Islander got 6. The Ranger 85 got 11. And the Mirage was high boat with 19! One fish caught on the Ranger 85 by Octavio Hernandez of Fullerton…his first fish EVER…was a 52 lb. whopper of a seabass!
First fish ever!!! A very lucky and happy Octavio Hernandez with his prize White Seabass!
In the past few years, the “outer island bite” typically happens later in the season after beginning along the coast. This year the bite went at Anacapa and continues there, while a different group of fish are biting at Santa Rosa…exciting, but very unusual.
I asked longtime owner/operator Bobby Valney of the Seabiscuit about it while riding the boat. Bobby said that the water is warmer this year, accelerating the move to the outer islands. Typically, it’s not until late July / beginning of August that we see conditions like this one at Santa Rosa. He said the last time he remembers seeing similar conditions was during the El Nino condition of 1984. That year he was a young captain on the Seahawk and they were catching striped marlin and yellowfin tuna 5-6 miles south of Yellow Banks (Santa Cruz Island). Bobby predicted a hot yellowtail bite around Anacapa Island if this year is like 1984.
So there you have it. Channel Islands Sportfishing’s season is in full swing and should only get better in June! Come out and fish with us. We have trips from half day to multi-day trips for beginner to experienced anglers. You will find our trip schedule here or call us at the landing to get more information 805-382-1612.