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Endless Summer At The Channel Islands

October was an incredible month at Channel Islands Sportfishing. The Ventura County line bite down the beach that I mentioned in my September post, continued through the first few weeks of October. Large grade yellowtail (20-25 lbs.) were the primary target fish, and anglers enjoyed a Fall bite, the likes of which CISCO’s hadn’t seen in several years. Mixed in with all the yellows were more than a few halibut and white seabass…putting the cherry on top of really great month of fishing.

I wasn’t able to get in on that bite, so I was pretty excited when a new batch of yellowtail emerged. This new batch of fish were being found at Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. This week, I was fortunate to be able to get on the Gentleman to check it out for myself.

I made it to the landing in time for the boat’s 6am departure. It was a nice light load of only 19 anglers (full load is 60). Capt. Donny Rowell was at the helm. Jeff and Chris were on deck, and Sunny was working the grill.

We left the dock with frozen squid and live anchovies. Capt. Donny gave the trip briefing and said we’d start the day working in close by the west end of Anacapa Island. He recommended fishing at least 30 lb. line as the fish being caught were a wide ranging mix from 8-40 lbs.! Since we were in close, the threat of rocks and kelp were an issue as well, so best to fish the heavy string to maximize your opportunity to catch fish. Preferred rigging was a ¼ to ½ oz. sliding sinker to a bait hook (smaller for the anchovies, bigger for the squid).

The ride across the channel to the islands was surprisingly gentle, making it easy to rig up. I opted to go with a light leadhead which has always worked well for me when fishing squid for yellowtail (or even white seabass). Covering my bases, I also rigged a surface iron and a dropper loop setup. Once I was done, I settled in with a cup of coffee and enjoyed the ride over.

We started fishing at the west end of Anacapa, but it was slow. Capt. Donny decided to move and we crossed the gap over to Santa Cruz island. First stop on the other side was in an area called Yellow Banks at the east end of Santa Cruz. Capt. Donny decided to move and we crossed the gap over to Santa Cruz island. Several of the other boats in the fleet were working the area as well. Capt. Donny said they were finding a few yellowtail too. I fished the leadhead setup and got bit almost immediately. It didn’t take out line though, so I knew it wasn’t a yellowtail. To my surprise it was a sugar bass (aka kelp rockfish). Good eats but not the target species. Good to see some life though.

Deckhand Jeff was throwing a smaller green mackerel Megabait jig and catching bonito. It was wide open on the bones for the anglers opting to use the anchovies. Sunny got in a cast using an anchovy and caught the first yellow of the day. It was a smaller model, but nice to see a yellow make it on deck. Not long after Jeff got bit on his jig and this time it took out line. Right kind? It was. Another angler got bit as well, but lost his, fishing a light (almost trout looking) spinner setup. There were also some nice calicos in the mix. Clearly, the fish were keyed in on fin bait, so I cut off my leadhead and rigged a slider setup with a size 1 bait hook to fish the anchovies.

Things picked up for me from there. I was fishing the stern and it became almost automatic for the rest of the day where I’d get bit almost immediately on the anchovies. I missed several bites, but enjoyed reeling in my share of bass and bonito.

After lunch I went back out to the rail. I was having a blast fishing the anchovies and catching bass and bonito. Then I got the bite I was looking for…heavy, taking out line…definitely the right kind. I was fighting it, following it down the rail, when abruptly my line popped. I reeled it back and it was broken off clean. In my excitement of catching the bass and bonito I failed to check my line and one of the bones probably nicked it. Don’t make the same mistake. Angler Eddie Samu, didn’t and managed to pull in the largest of the 4 yellowtail caught on the boat to take the jackpot.

Despite losing my fish, I enjoyed a really fun day on the water. It was incredible to be fishing in shorts and a tshirt, catching the fish of Summer (bass, bonito and yellowtail). There was also a nice mix of bottomfish: rockfish, whitefish, sheephead and one ling to round out the fish caught on the boat for the day.

Good people, good fishing, and good times are there to be enjoyed on the Gentleman. The boat leaves everyday at 6am. Call the landing at 805-382-1612 or BOOK ONLINE to get onboard.