Posted by: Jimmy | January 27, 2018

Spitfire Structure Bass and Triggers

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: January 27, 2018

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Sculpin and Structure Bass!

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Danny, John

Load: 29 Anglers

Things are slowing down out on the big pond. We had to go nine miles out to go find some sculpin. Usually, we only go about four or five miles out, but those areas have dried up. It was a slow pick out there and we didn’t even get close to limits. Because who wants to beat a dead horse, we headed into the beach to try for some bass.

It seemed like the bass wanted to bite a little bit on the first stone. Unfortunately, the Santa Anas kicked up and swung us around like a yo-yo. The Spitfire’s shallow hull was no match for the wily winds ripping out of the canyon. Then the wind was changing directions all the time. Finally, the wind settled out of the south, and we reanchored.

Unfortunately, the bite was a grind for the rest of the day. However, we ended up at a spot where we were able to sit between two rockpiles and have more area with which to work our baits. One rock was straight down off the port side, and the other was off the stern and starboard corner. Some people worked the latter for a bit, and Ray and another angler managed to pull a triggerfish off of it. Terry also pulled a nice calico off it. But after a while, that rockpile petered out and most switched over to the one that was straight down on the port side. Others were getting bites, but I couldn’t. By this point I had only one bass for my efforts.

With time running out, I decided to find that other rockpile back at the stern. I made a full cast off the starboard corner and hit the bottom. Immediately, I was bit. I swung and pulled hard to get the fish out of the rocks, if there was any. There wasn’t – this fish just was heavy and angry. I then realized that this was probably a triggerfish, as it was fighting pretty erratically. I was right, and I soon landed my first triggerfish in three years.

After tying on another leadhead, thanks to the triggerfish ruining my other one, I casted out again and hit bottom. I was bit again instantaneously and swung hard. This time, I felt rocks and pulled back hard to wrestle the fish – whatever it was – out of its treacherous habitat. I succeeded and proceeded to reel it up. This fish was fighting too and kind of erratically too. I thought it could be another trigger, but, as Danny pointed out, triggers don’t get you stuck in the rocks. As it turns out, it was a big grumpy sand bass that was twisting, rolling, and duking hard on the way up – thus the erratic fight. This was a decent sand bass – long, but unfortunately skinny. Nevertheless, it was a nice reward after having only one bass in my haul for a few hours.

Five minutes later, it was time to head for the barn. Jackson then made the call for jackpot. I put up my bass and trigger, and my trigger was heavier. Then, Ray put his trigger up, and his trigger was heavier. And then, the other angler put his trigger up, and that angler’s trigger beat out Ray’s trigger. Nice triggers today.

Anyway, fishing was a grind, but it was still fun. My day was made in the last 10 minutes of the trip. Sometimes it pays to move around and try to find your own spot, away from the crowd. However, these rockpiles are small and you can’t always do that. But if you’re given the opportunity to have your choice of rockpiles on the same spot, it might pay off to try the one with less baits on it. It certainly paid off for me today.

Ray and Me – Nice Bass and Triggers

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Posted by: Jimmy | January 12, 2018

Spitfire Structure Bass for a Light Load

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: January 12, 2018

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Sculpin and Structure Bass!

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Danny, Jimmy

Load: 7 Anglers (!)

I didn’t think we would make it out this morning. I held off on putting my fishing boots on and paced around for a while, hoping some cars would roll into Dock 52. I got my wish! We rolled off the dock with an extremely light load of 7 anglers.

First order of business was the sculpin. Jeremy instructed us to use leadheads on our dropper loops as there were rockfish in the area. We still caught some rockfish, but we limited the bycatch. The sculpin fishing wasn’t wide open, but every single one that came over the rail was legal. There were some toads in the mix too. We limited out by 9am and headed for the bass.

My Sculpin Limit

Sculpin Food

Bass fishing was slow for the next few hours, but we picked a few. The best spots were the last two spots of the day, when we finally had some breeze to hold us over the spot. The bass started getting pretty aggressive. A lot of times, you’d be bass bit as soon as you hit bottom – maybe even on the way down. However, no lunkers came to the party. Most of our bass were short, but we found a bunch of 14-16 inch bass to round out our light-load bass limit. Not to mention, those bass still pull despite not having “lunker” status. And they’ll still break you off too. Plenty of these bass broke us off today, and we went through quite a few leadheads. But you’ll never have as much fun losing tackle.

Due to the fact that no big bass were caught and our sculpin were jumbos, a sculpin ended up taking jackpot. Haven’t seen that in a while, especially up here where at least one big bass is common in the winter while fishing leadhead and squid. At least the action was damn good.

Nice Calico and JP Sculpin

Little John with some Bass

Danny pulled a Trigger

Part of My Haul

Posted by: Jimmy | January 6, 2018

Spitfire Structure Bass for the Weary

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: January 6, 2018

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Sculpin and Structure Bass!

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Danny, John

Load: 25 Anglers

I am tired as hell after fishing four days this week, so I’ll make it brief. We got our sculpin limits and headed for the bass. We caught most of our bass on one spot. It was a slow plunker for the most part, except when we got a little bit of breeze and the bass got aggressive. I had a bass stuck in the rocks, and Johnny Couch managed to yank it out for me, giving me my biggest bass of the day. My friend Bill of Billz Baitz was out today and put the wood to ’em too. He ended up winning jackpot with a big grumpy that beat all the triggerfish. Also, there were quite a few nice calicos. It seemed like the lighter-colored leadhead was working better today (chartreuse, pink, red, orange – colors like that). We ended the day in really shallow, where we picked some more triggerfish and a couple bass. I ended up with 5 bass today. We ran out of live squid, but the fish wanted the fresh frozen too. That’s good to know once the live squid dries up, which it inevitably will. Damn good day today and nice fishing with Bill again.

Bill and Peter (Bill won JP with that bass)

My Haul

Posted by: Jimmy | January 5, 2018

Spitfire Structure Bass with a Crowd

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: January 5, 2018

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Sculpin and Structure Bass!

Crew: Capt. John Corzel, Danny, Jimmy, Gio

Load: 37 Anglers

I wasn’t expecting this many people on a Friday, but a group from Chevron that usually charters the boat decided to jump on an open party trip instead. So I brought my combat gear, said a Hail Mary, and hoped for the best.

Surprisingly, we limited out on sculpin fairly quick today. It was a grind through the shorts, but we somehow caught 185 sculpin by 9:30 and headed for the bass.

I was totally helmet for the first couple hours. I wasn’t getting bit by the right kind most of the time, and when the right kind did bite, I farmed them every time. Ray was slaying them right next to me though. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I blamed it on getting #33, which was unlucky for me on a recent trip. Maybe it was just one of those days.

That all changed at 1pm. I finally got my first legal bass. It was then that the bass started getting more aggressive, thanks to a stiff west breeze and increasing current. Finally, I was on the board! We had a good plunker at this spot before jumping on a shallower one. This spot held a few triggers, and Ray and Butch managed to tie into a couple. Meanwhile, the bass started really getting aggressive. I managed to reach my limit plus one before the trip’s end. Ray was en fuego today and ended up with 13 bass. Between him and I, we had 19 of the 56 bass on the boat. We make a great team! Anyway, very good considering the heavy load of people.

The Four Fishermen

Posted by: Jimmy | January 3, 2018

Spitfire Structure Bass featuring Live Squid

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: January 3, 2018

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Sculpin and Structure Bass!

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Mike, Jimmy

Load: 19 Anglers

I tend to do backflips when I hear we’re getting live squid for bait. This time was no exception.

Nevertheless, before trying for bass, we had to go fill our sculpin quota. A dropper loop with a leadhead and a six- to eight-ounce torpedo sinker was the ticket. We made relatively quick work of them, and then headed into the beach to fish for bass.

Calm Morning in the Santa Monica Bay

The bass fishing held tremendous potential, but was slightly marred by slack conditions. There was just no current or breeze to speak of, with one exception. We did have some breeze for a little bit, and the fish responded in typical fashion when we have live squid on our leadheads. Not only that, some triggerfish crashed the party. Ray was the first to hook up after his trigger molesting his mogambo and squid combo for a good while. Then, the triggers just busted loose. They were chewin!! We ended up with around 7 triggers. I didn’t get any, but I was doing well in the bass department by this point. It was just exciting to see that many triggers come up.

At the last spot of the day, the conditions went slack and didn’t come back. However, we would swing back and forth over the spot and managed to keep it pretty much under the boat, albeit it switching sides around every 10 minutes. One particular time when the rock was on the port side, I hooked up to a bruiser that was taking line. I was thinking big sheephead, but it turned into a big ol’ grumpy sand bass! Better yet, it looked like it could take on the triggers.

There was one particular technique I employed that made a difference today. If a bass would rock me and wouldn’t budge with hard pulls, I would slack off and see if they would swim or twitch in between the rocks. If I felt this, I would quickly put the reel in gear and lean back on the rod. I mananged to get four bass out of the rocks like this today. Thanks to that, I ended up with 8 bass by the end of the day (for a culled legal limit of 5 bass).

We ended up with 40 bass, 7 triggerfish, and limits of sculpin for the day. It would’ve been worlds better if we had wind and current to keep us in place. As it was, fishing was pretty good. I ended up winning jackpot with my big bass. The straight leadhead and squid seemed to work best today, but there were moments when a mogambo slipped on the leadhead worked well too. Also, I can’t tell you how much fun I had today. I love structure bass fishing.

Ray and Jimbo with the 1st Trigger

Ray and Me

Jackson with Jackpot

Posted by: Jimmy | January 1, 2018

Spitfire New Year’s Structure Bass

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: January 1, 2018

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Sculpin and Structure Bass!

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Mike, John

Load: 19 Anglers

Happy New Year! With rockfish closed, it’s time for some structure bass fishing, one of my very favorites. I ordered some new leadheads and broke out my fluid bed to powder coat them. I couldn’t wait to try them out on New Year’s Day.

But first we would head out to a deep sculpin hole to take advantage of the sculpin opener. They have been closed since September 1st, so we figured they would be ripe for the picking. However, it took some work to round up our limits. After a couple hours, we finally arrived at our sculpin quota and headed for the famous Santa Monica Bay stones for structure bass fishing.

The first spot was really good because somehow we laid perfectly between two rockpiles, so there was one on each side of the boat. Most people opted to fish the rockpile on the port side, as that one was straight down. The one on the starboard side required a lob to a full cast to reach. However, I enjoy working a stone at an angle as opposed to straight up and down, so I opted to fish the starboard side one, and I pretty much had it to myself for a while. Unfortunately, it didn’t produce as well as the port side, so I missed some opportunities. However, there were quite a few short bass and some really big sculpin to keep things interesting. Those sculpin were lucky we already had limits!

We fished two more spots the rest of the day. The second one was unmemorable to me, but the last one bit very well. By this point we were swinging around a lot, but we would always swing back over the rock and get bit. As one angler said, it was like a “conveyor belt”: we would swing just right over the rock and several people would go bendo. I managed to catch two of my three bass here. Also, one angler caught a big ol’ grumpy sand bass, which would go on to beat a really big triggerfish that was caught at the first spot. It takes a BIG bass to do that.

Us 19 anglers ended up with about 30 bass, 2 triggerfish, and limits of sculpin for the day. I probably turned lose a limit of fat “structure sculpin,” as well. Lucky bastards. Anyway, bass fishing was very promising today and I can’t wait for more.

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Posted by: Jimmy | December 27, 2017

Spitfire Christmas

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: December 26, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Malibu

Crew: Capt. John Corzel, Danny, Gio

Load: 19 Anglers

Merry merry!

We headed up to Malibu despite not having live squid. We started out deep and it was a little slow, so we came in shallower and found some better fishing. We didn’t have live squid, but we had some prime, properly frozen, fresh squid to use, and it proved to be the next best thing. Some nicer reds came over the rail, in addition to a few quality sheephead, whitefish, and other rockfish. To finish the day, we drifted for some halibut and went 1 for 2 on them. Personally, I ended up with 6 reds, 1 chucklehead, 1 bocaccio, 1 rosy rockfish, and a nice sheephead. Fun day!

Baaaaah!

The Haul

Posted by: Jimmy | December 22, 2017

Surprises via Live Squid

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: December 22, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Malibu

Crew: Capt. John Corzel, Danny, Jimmy

Load: 29 Anglers

We’ve gotten tremendously spoiled by having live squid for bait. With it, you get big reds, sheephead, and a variety of other nice fish. Without it, it’s a grind on smaller rockfish. That’s just the way it’s been. Unfortunately, getting the live squid has been hit or miss for the past month. But when you get it, you best fish hard and not squander your opportunity at some locally-caught, Channel Islands-quality rockfish.

With one tank of live squid, Captain Johnny Couch pointed the boat up toward Malibu with hopes of putting us on some nice reds and stuff. It’s been good fishing up there, provided you have live squid at your disposal. Otherwise, you might get lucky and get a pick on the bass, but the rockfishing is pretty damn slow. Since we had live squid today, I was pretty excited.

It took a few spots, but we found the big reds at the same spot we caught a bunch last month (the trip where Terry showed his son Craig and grandson Rene how it was done). It wasn’t as good as that day, but we plunked away at some nice ones. I wasn’t doing as well as I should have, but I did find a nice surprise. On one particular drop with my double dropper loop, I got bit as soon as I hit bottom. It was duking hard and pulled a bit of line out. I was thinking it was a big sheephead. But all of a sudden, it kind of started swimming toward the surface. It was coming up too easy. It gave one last headshake before it settled down for good. I thought the sheephead was fighting really weird. Well, my sheephead turned into about an eight- or ten-pound halibut, which met the gaff and was welcomed aboard. I’ve caught halibut on the flyline, plastic, jig, and on halibut drifts, but never out rockfishing in 180 feet of water. That’s a first for me!

Halibut!

Soon after that surprise, the big reds slowed down. We hit about three more spots the rest of the day. None of them yielded as many reds as that one spot. However, we did find some nice chuckleheads, sheephead, and sand bass to wrap up the day.

Also, there would be one last surprise. At the last spot, Butch, who is gung-ho when it comes to going big, hooked into a nice fish. It was another halibut that looked like it was going to give mine a run for its money. When I snuck peeks of his and compared it to mine, I was thinking he had me. His looked longer. However, when it came to the weigh-in, my halibut tipped the scale downward to take jackpot. It turns out that my halibut, despite being slightly shorter, was thicker enough to be the heavier of the two. I’ve taken second place to fish that were shorter and fatter as well. I guess I caught the right one today.

Anyway, we had a nice sample on the quality reds with a handful of beautiful sheephead and a couple halibut to make things interesting. I gotta say, I love that live squid.

Spitfire Snapper!

Matt’s Big Reds

Halibut with a Side of Snapper

Posted by: Jimmy | December 16, 2017

Whitefish ‘n’ Things

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: December 16, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Malibu

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Danny, John, Jackson

Load: 29 Anglers

I could only watch in envy as the Spit demolished the reds with live squid during the week. I wasn’t holding my breath, but I was hoping hard for a miracle that we’d have live squid for Saturday. It wasn’t to be.

However, we still charged up the line to Malibu, where Captain John Corzel put his charter on a nice haul of reds the day before. Hopefully we could pick a few with fresh frozen.

Unlike the last couple months in the Santa Monica Bay, we had a bit of a bumpy ride. The wind was blowing steadily out of the northeast. Nevertheless, Jeremy set us up on a drift first thing. Unfortunately, the drift was just way too fast, so we headed further up the line to do some fishing on the anchor in shallower water.

The first spot was the best of the day. It was promising to start for me, as a decent red latched onto my bait. After that, it was a steady pick at the smaller whitefish. I managed to find a treefish in between all the whitefish rattles, but that was it for a while with respect to rockfish. Meanwhile, other anglers were soaking sardines with hopes of glory. Those who put the time in were rewarded. Two halibut and about a dozen nice sand bass decided to break up the monotony of whitefish fishing and up the ante a bit. It made me soak a sardine, and I was rewarded with a big grumpy sand bass. Other than that, a handful of nice sheephead came over the rail.

It was pretty slow the rest of the day. A handful of reds and blue bass came up at the last couple spots of the day, but that was it. The rockfish just weren’t in a biting mood today. I can’t really complain though. I was really happy to catch that big sand bass and see a couple halibut. Don’t see those too often anymore ’round these parts.

Jackson with the Halibut

Terry’s Flattie

Posted by: Jimmy | December 8, 2017

A Smattering of Structure Bass

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: December 8, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Santa Monica Bay

Crew: Capt. John Corzel, Danny, Jimmy

Load: 13 Anglers

Seeing that we had a light load with decent anglers, Couch said we would go bass fishing all day if the bait boat made some live squid. There was none, so we went out codding instead. Codding was pretty frustrating for me. We had good sized sardines for bait, so I tried for grouper most of the day. For some reason, the grouper were pretty finicky when they’d bite the sardines. While I struggled, the guys fishing squid were gathering a collection of nice starries, barber poles, reds, and a few sheephead. I did catch another mako shark after it chased my sardine up to the surface and I dropped the bait back and hooked it. That was pretty cool. But I was el sucko in the rockfish department. No jig biters and finicky finbait biters. I should’ve fished squid.

But my consolation prize was an afternoon of bass fishing on a spot I haven’t fished in a long time. We had trouble at first because a lot of little whitefish would pick our squids off our leadheads before they’d reach bottom. But eventually they thinned out and we plunked away at some bass. There were some big grumpies that came up and some sculpin that were turned loose. I managed to find a couple to jump on my hook. Ray was the high stick with six sand bass. It was pretty good for a bit there. Imagine what it would have been with live squid.

A Smattering of Structure Bass

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