I knew fishing had been a bit slow at Catalina but some squid was starting to show up, and the weather looked beautiful…. And there was space on one of my favorite local boats! The Gail Force.
I called Ryan Friday night to get on Saturday’s trip. We chatted for a bit, confirmed my spot. As we were saying goodbye Ryan asked me to do him a favor. “Go out and get the jackpot”.
Ryan’s such a great guy, and I didn’t want to disappoint him, so….
We left the dock a few minutes before 5 AM with 22 passengers on board. We had to wait a few minutes to get to the bait dock… Anchovies, tiny ones. No sardines, no squid. Oh boy…
I rigged up, curled up in a corner in the galley and fell asleep. I woke when the engines slowed as we approached Catalina. The first couple spots were slow. We worked our way around the island and stopped on a kelp line that the calico bass wanted to bite. We had some frozen squid, but the bass were much more willing to bite the chovy, if you could get one to swim a bit. I was using a size 6 hook and 1/8 oz sinker… trying out a new Daiwa Lexa 300 on my custom Seeker Blue Lightning 809. Nearly every bait I tossed was another bass, mostly short, a couple of legal, all released.
A guy standing next to me dropped in a bait and pointed into the water. “Oh look… there’s a yellowtail right there!” The fish made a deep u-turn and spun around and grabbed the guy’s anchovy! After a brief struggle, and we had our first yellowtail of the day. Optimism and excitement infected the passengers, more yellowtail were puddling a little ways out, a lot of people threw iron at them, but they were not interested, and they disappeared.
Back to the bait tank for another two-eyes-and-a-wiggle chovy, Mikey was on the bait tank, chumming and filling the wells. He pointed to one of the handwells holding a little larger bait… I cornered it and grabbed it… gave it a toss. It was the first one I could actually feel swimming. It only took it a few seconds to get bit, and we heard Joel yelling, “that’s the right kind!” I thought there was no way that tiny hook was going to be able to hold that fish, but it did! Hooked right in the corner of the mouth, Joel gaffed it and put it on the boat. More optimism for a while, but the two early morning yellows were all there would be.
My yellowtail took the Jack Pot, which of course went to the crew.
We caught lots of calico bass, a few sugar bass, and some sheephead. (I even caught one sheephead on an anchovy… they’re hungry!)
Joel saw yellowtail around the boat several times. There’s a good volume of fish out there, and right now there seems to be a lot of bait fish around as well. I don’t doubt we’d have done a lot better if we’d had live squid. And the squid seems to be making a new showing in numbers along the coast and at the islands. Joel thinks Catalina is going to go wide open one these days when the bait fish start to dwindle and those fish get hungry.
There’s a few spots left next Saturday, June 7, and there’s another Seeker Sponsored trip on the Gail Force on Sunday, July 27. Gail Force runs out of LA Harbor Sportfishing, reservations are through Ryan at 1-310-844-3814. Or check their schedule at:
This is a great boat for a full day trip, always limited loads (20 people or less on almost all trips), and knowledgeable captains that will put you on the fish. The galley is huge, and can seat 20 people, and there’s a wonderful sun deck to enjoy the ride out and back to Catalina on a beautiful summer day!