Posted by: Jimmy | November 19, 2017

C’mon Red, Get ‘Em Terry!

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: November 18-19, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Santa Monica Bay

Crew: Capt. John Corzel, Danny, Mike, Gio, Jimbo

Load: 25 / 24 Anglers

On Saturday morning before heading to the boat, I saw something tremendously exciting on social media. While we were all sleeping, John and Gio went out and loaded up the boat with live squid. I immediately texted my friend Ray to share the good news. I practically did cartwheels because I know how good rockfishing can get with some of the candy bait.

So we headed out with a nice load to see how the rockfish would respond. And boy, did they ever. The first spot we fished would normally only give up a few small starries and whitefish, especially with how fishing has been. Instead, some quality reds decided to jump on our hooks. Where the hell did these things come from?? That’s the magic of the live squid.

We got a good sampling on the quality reds before heading out further to try for some grouper and belindas. I found the grouper to be a bit picky with the live squid. The grouper I did catch screwed with my bait for a while before finally fully committing. On the other hand, the belindas were mostly jumbos. Some of them even bit the whole live squid. You just never know what’s gonna happen with live squid.

We finished the day trying for some more reds. At this time as well as throughout the day, I was fishing with a double dropper loop with 1/0 hooks. At this stage, instead of a live squid on each hook, I pinned one live squid on the bottom hook, and strips on the top hook. Resorting to the strips yielded my biggest red of the day, which probably was a good five pounder. I ended up with five reds, one chucklehead, four belindas, and one barely-legal lingcod for my culled haul. The reds were all nice. A lingcod ended up taking jackpot, edging out my red and a nice sheephead. And once again, Terry Sawa was the high stick.

My Big Red

My Saturday Haul

The fishing was so good that Ray and I decided to return on Sunday for hopefully some more action on the reds. John told me that he was planning on fishing another area where we would also try for some bass and sheephead. Joining us today was three generations of Sawas: Terry, Craig, and Rene. It’s been almost ten years since I first fished the Spitfire, and that was with Capt. Craig Sawa at the helm. It was nice to fish with him again.

First thing we tried in shallow for some bass and sheephead. Right out of the gate, Terry landed a NICE sheephead on leadhead and squid. Not too long after that, he landed ANOTHER big sheephead, this one bigger than the first. Meanwhile, others were picking away at the short calicos, with a few legals here and there. I managed to pull out a keeper. The inside was promising, but not good enough so we moved out into deeper water.

It took a few spots, but we finally found the reds. The action was way better than the day before, and I thought that was pretty damn good. There was a trick to it, however. The current was running under the boat so you had to lob out as far as you could so you would be in proper position. If you were too far under the boat, you didn’t get bit. They also seemed to want the live squid fresh. If the squid had been on the hook a while or had been nibbled at, the reds didn’t bite it as good. Weird. But oh man, when you hooked into one of these big reds, hold on, boy! They duked hard and sure as hell got the blood pumping.

I was doing alright but not what I could have been doing. Ray was getting them really good. Toward the stern, Terry was putting on a clinic. He ended up with a couple lings and several huge reds, including one double that had one red and one grouper. I guess the “Grouper King” couldn’t get away from the grouper in a damn good bite on the reds. Go figure. Once again, Terry outfished all of us.

This was a day I’ll remember for a while. And caught local to boot. The magic of the live squid, ladies and gentlemen.

Quality!

Me, Ray, and Rene

Three Generations of Sawa Fishermen

Craig with a Nice Double on the Reds

Terry’s Sheephead and Lings

Terry’s Haul

Quality Fish!

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Posted by: Jimmy | November 12, 2017

You know it ain’t biting if Terry isn’t catching…

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: November 11-12, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Santa Monica Bay

Crew: Capt. John Corzel, Danny, Mike, Gio, Jimbo

Load: 31 / 19 Anglers

Ray, Terry, and I fished two days in a row this weekend. On Saturday, we tried for the bonito first thing and found a few but not the big schools that have been around the last few weeks. So we went codding and found that to be tough as well. Mostly squarespots were found until the last area we tried, where we finally caught a few grouper and belindas. It was tough out there. And Terry only had two grouper, and like the title of this report says, you know it ain’t biting if Terry ain’t catching.

Because who doesn’t love beating a dead horse, the three of us went back out on Sunday. We tried again for the bonito and found them to be even less cooperative than the day before. So we went codding again but this time tried different areas. The first area we managed to pick off a few smaller reds. I had five of them before we moved onto the next area, which was already worlds better than the day before. The next area was the best spot of the day, producing some bigger grouper and reds for us, as well as a huge Canary Rockfish caught by Ray. We finished out the day in another area picking at some starries, whitefish, and more grouper. I think the three of us each ended up with a solid limit of rockfish. Still slow fishing overall, but at least not as slow as it was Saturday.

Ray’s Huge Canary

Posted by: Jimmy | November 7, 2017

First Mako Shark in 10 Years

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: November 4, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Santa Monica Bay

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Danny, John

Load: 34 Anglers

This was a day full of surprises. It started out with us trying for bonito first thing in the morning, thanks to the bait boat making a full load of anchovies. We headed down and stopped in front of Redondo Harbor for all the bonito you wanted. It would have been better if it had not been for the sea lions, but we still made quick work of it. Jigs were getting bit fairly well. I was using the Salas Pwee, and my friend Ray was using a Megabait knockoff. He outfished me 2 to 1. The darts definitely got bit better today.

Killer Bones!

Then we made a move nine miles to the north to load up on some rockfish. We hit about three or four spots throughout the rest of the day. The rockfish variety consisted of mostly grouper, with a few reds, belindas, and boscos thrown in. The anchovies worked way better than sardines and squid. However, there was one spot where the grouper willingly ate the sardines, and another spot where the grouper voraciously jumped the jig. It was weird – each spot was pretty different with respect to what the grouper wanted to bite. Still, it was pretty good fishing if you worked hard at it.

Grouper Rodeo!

Now for what is mentioned in the title. At the second rockfish spot we fished, I got bored fishing bait and decided to check out if the grouper wanted the jig. Every drop ten cranks off the bottom, the grouper jumped all over my 4-1/2 ounce glow-in-the-dark Megabait. One of those drops was just like the others, but yielded the biggest surprise ever. Just as I got the grouper to the surface, a mako shark appeared out of nowhere and chomped down on the rockfish. Instead of taking off, the shark stayed there, and shook the rockfish like a dog chewing on a bone. Without a moment’s hesitation, I yelled, “MAKO! MAKO! Get the gaff!” For a split second, I thought my cries would be in vain and the fish would either get spooked, or break me off. Fortunately, I was fishing with 40-pound test, so the shark wasn’t able to bust me off. Even more fortunately, the shark stayed relatively put. Jeremy then swooped in with the gaff and sunk it into the shark. When he did so, I realized just how big this shark was. It was a nice one. It was big enough that it dragged Jeremy down the rail for a brief second. However, the captain was stronger and he was able to get it under control with the help of two more gaffs. A minute later, the shark was aboard and there were high-fives all around. This was my first mako shark in 10 years.

With Jackson and Jeremy Maltz

Shark on board!

My Shark from August 2007 (with Capt. Corey Lieser of the Clemente)

Pretty exciting stuff! We estimated the shark to be at least 100 pounds. It was pretty fat and took quite a bit of effort (three gaffs) to bring it aboard. I’ll definitely remember this one for a while.

Posted by: Jimmy | October 28, 2017

Big Reds & Little Things

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: October 28, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:00pm)

Destination: Santa Monica Bay

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Mike, John

Load: 17 Anglers

I’ll make this real brief because I’m tired. We headed out rockfishing and it was really promising to start. The first two drifts of the day yielded a handful of fat reds, three of which were caught by me. After that, it was all downhill in terms of quality. We didn’t have anchovies, so the grouper didn’t bite as well. We picked away at the belindas and squarespots and managed to get boat limits of mostly smaller rockfish. To end the day, we mounted up on a rockpile and caught a bunch of whitefish. I hope the bait boat finds some more anchovies soon, because codding is pretty slow without them. However, my day was made in spades by catching those big reds in the morning.

C’mon Red!

Posted by: Jimmy | October 3, 2017

Spitfire Fall Combo Trip

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: September 30, 2017

Trip: 3/4 Day (6:30am – 3:30pm)

Destination: Big Reef & Palos Verdes

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Gio, John

Load: 29 Anglers

In the morning, we headed down 10 miles to Big Reef to do a little codding. I first dropped down with bait, but found only smaller fish interested in that. So I decided to switch to a 4-1/2 ounce Megabait jig. If bait fishing was slow, I might as well have some fun. This proved to be a smart move. It wasn’t wide open by any means, but I outfished quite a few guys who stuck with bait. Grouper, for the most part, hit the jig, but I did find an eager red and a chucklehead. In addition to a few little things, I had a limit of rockfish by the time our deep-water sojourn came to an end.

Boccacio Rockfish a.k.a. Salmon Grouper

Jeremy then elected to head into shallower water and try for some bonito. I tied an old Salas “Pwee” jig on my bass rod with 12-pound test and hoped for the best. I also left my rockfishing gear tied on just in case. However, it was evident not a minute into looking around that I needed to do that. The bonito gave a ferocious response to our chum, and it was every cast on a small metal jig for quite a while. A Spitfire regular, Justin, hooked into a yellowtail on his second cast on a scrambled egg-colored Salas 7X surface iron. He ended up taking jackpot with the 20-pound class fish. After that, it was all about bonito and bass. I was surprised to see the bass so eager to bite, and was even more surprised to scrap together a couple of keepers that bit the red-colored Wham rubber lure. I almost lost my Pwee jig thanks to a bonito wrapping me around the anchor, but Jeremy’s son Jackson helped me tie it off, and we were able to get it back once we pulled anchor. Good thing, too, because that jig is probably older than I am!

Justin’s Yellowtail (with Jackson Maltz)

Anyway, it was nice to fish the Spit again. It was also nice to fish with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while. It was also nice to have a bit of surface action before it inevitably comes to an end. Hopefully it holds on. We shall see.

Posted by: Jimmy | September 25, 2017

Part-Time Return from Hiatus

Hi there! You may have noticed I posted a fishing report recently for the first time in over two years. I don’t fish as near as often as I used to, but I still fish when I get the urge. I am in the middle of graduate education to start my career. I’m not sure where that will take me, and I may not be fishing much at all for the first few years once that begins. But until then, I’m realizing that it’s nice to get away and enjoy something that was once the biggest part of my life.

So I will be fishing when I can until then, and if I have time, I will post detailed reports and pictures. Or maybe just brief snippets to whet your appetites. Please be patient, for they ain’t gonna come as frequent as before. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy them.

Posted by: Jimmy | September 19, 2017

Pacific Islander Rockfish Bonanza

Boat: Pacific Islander

Date: Monday, September 18, 2017

Trip: Overnight (10pm Sunday Departure)

Destination: Santa Rosa Island

Crew: Capt. Steve Virtue, Capt. Randy, Bryan, Ron, Art

Load: 23 Anglers

Hi! Remember me?

I hadn’t fished in nine months, but I decided to break my fishing fast and head out on one of my favorite boats, the famous PI. Captain Steve’s game plan was to head to the south side of Santa Rosa Island, close to the west end, where he’s had good luck recently with bigger rockfish and more lings. To make things interesting, if time permitted, we would also try for some yellowtail and halibut, of which the boat got one each the day before. Sounded pretty exciting!

The “PI”

On these trips, I always try to fish jigs most I can. However, if I’m unable to fish them – whether because of fast drifts or unwilling fish – I always have a double dropper loop with 16 ounces on standby. With that in mind, I rigged up two rods with jigs, and one rod for bait. When that was all said and done, I hit the hay.

We arrived at our destination around daybreak, at 6:30 am. It was breezier than I had expected, which made me a little unnerved about fishing the jig. Nevertheless, I tried that first. And, with a uneasy sense of foreboding, I got stuck in a rock and lost it on the first drop. Lordy, what a good start to the morning.

Sunrise at Santa Rosa

Nevertheless, I persisted in fishing the jig. They weren’t too eager for the first handful of drifts, so things were off to a slow start. I usually fish a six-ounce jig, but the drifts were so fast that I had to tie on an eight-ounce jig that hasn’t seen any action in a long time. I first tried an eight-ounce Jax Jig and got a couple fish on it. Then I lost it to a lingcod that took me in the rocks at a bad angle. On this retie, I decided to try a red Ahi diamond jig that I haven’t used in about four years. This was the ticket for me. First I caught a Canary Rockfish, which used to be no-take, but now we are allowed one per person. So the fish often mistaken for a Vermillion Rockfish got sacked up. In between somewhere, I managed my limit of lingcod. Next, I found some high-quality Chuckleheads and managed two of those big suckers in consecutive drops. It was a lot of fun to see them eager to jump the jig, fighting hard upon hookup, and seeing their brilliant color.

Quality Jig Jumpin’ Chucklehead

Canary Rockfish – Tweet Tweet!

However, I grew tired of casting that eight-ounce jig down drift multiple times per drift. Even though I found some fish eager to jump the jig, I still was behind a lot of people. Therefore, I decided to switch to my bait rig and join the bait crowd on the port side of the boat. I made an extremely wise decision, as the next spot Steve tried was a smaller spot, but with a ton of large, hungry rockfish. I had a few quality doubles that included Chuckleheads, Boccacio, and a big Red. It wasn’t as fun as hooking a nice fish on the jig, but seeing two nice fish on your line and bringing them over the rail to add to your haul is fun in itself. The key to rockfishing at Santa Rosa Island is often to get as quality a haul as possible. And on days like this when the big rockfish want to die, you best not squander your opportunity.

Quality Double

Soon, we hit our rockfish quota and almost lingcod limits. We had a little bit of time left, so we backtracked down the island to try for some yellowtail and halibut. The standard rig of choice was a single dropper loop and eight ounces of weight. I used a tweaked version of that, having a singled line via the Roy Rose Knot (a favorite of mine for deep water yellowtail). On the second drift, we hooked into some firecracker yellows. I ended up hooking one but pulled the hook on it at the surface. I wasn’t exactly heartbroken, but I would have been crying if it was a 20 pounder. Oh, well. I missed two more bites besides that. Four of firecracker size were landed.

Cleaning the Catch

Then it was time to head for the barn, back to the reality of everyday life. It was nice to go fishing again, especially on the PI. Fishing was pretty damn good and the weather was decent. My arms were pretty sore after doing this kind of fishing after a nine-month, self-imposed moratorium, and yet, the day was quite relaxing. It was a delightful paradox.

Beautiful Day on the Water

Posted by: Jimmy | September 15, 2015

On Hiatus

Hello my loyal readers (and Internet),

After a while of thought, I have decided to take a leave from my blog. Although you might say that I’ve been doing that since I haven’t made a post in almost three months, but instead of leaving you hanging, I thought I’d make it official.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been fishing, but for the last few months, I’ve had little desire to write reports as I have been the last few years. I write so much in school now (I’m a senior in college this year) that I just don’t feel like doing it anymore. And that’s a shame, but it is what it is.

Now, that’s not to say I won’t be back sometime in the future with more fishing reports (hell, I might even be back in a few months – or maybe several years). That is one reason why I am not going to deactivate the blog, but put the project on hiatus. But the main reason why I’m keeping it up has to do with why I started this blog in the first place: to build an archive of fishing reports that I hope you will enjoy. After four years of this blog being live on the interwebs, I think I’ve achieved that goal.

So I thank you for taking the time to read what I had to offer – I appreciate it very much. And maybe I’ll see you out on the big pond, where one day I might have something to bring back on here.

Take care,

Jimmy

Posted by: Jimmy | June 21, 2015

Yellows to Bass to Yellows

Thought I’d play catch-up here as I haven’t posted in a while. The short of this report is that the yellowtail bite off Long Beach is still going strong, and 1/2 day boats have been posting better counts than overnight boats. (When was the last time you saw that happen?) I also snuck in a bass trip that was surprisingly good. Here’s the slightly longer report:

On June 9, Ray and I hit the Spitfire with Capt. John “Couch” Corzel at the helm in search of yellowtail. The fish were in a biting mood and wanted a variety of presentations; the surface iron, dropper loop, flyline, and yo-yo all produced fish. Ray tenaciously fished the Salas 7X and ended up with three yellows. I tried different things and went two for three – one on dropper loop (the runner-up fish) and one on the Colt Sniper. While fighting the latter fish, I was on pins and needles because the trebles are small on those jigs. I had already pulled the hook on one, and the only reason I got the second was that the fish inhaled the jig, with only the eye of the jig sticking out of its mouth. Lucky! We ended up with 42 yellows for the day.

On June 12, my Dad and I hit the Clemente with Capt. Corey Lieser at the helm in search of the elusive calico bass. The bass fishing had taken a dump in the week prior, so Corey decided to try an area that doesn’t receive a whole lot of boat pressure. It paid off in spades, and we put together the best *keeper* bass count in a long time. The bass were hitting plastics no problem, but the big ones were eagerly hitting the trout-sized sardines we had for bait. Hieu “So Vo” Vo won jackpot with a calico that looked bigger in person than it does in the picture.

On June 16, I hit the Spitfire once again with Captain Couch at the helm for another yellowtail odyssey. This time, however, the fish were a little picky with presentation. They didn’t want the yo-yo (but then again I didn’t try a traditional yo-yo jig), and they didn’t hit the Colt Sniper like they did for me the week before. They were hitting the surface iron pretty good, so I put in some time with a Salas 7X, and was rewarded with my first ever yellowtail on the “plug.” That’s something I knew was on my to-do list, but also something that I wasn’t stone-dead-set on accomplishing. I’m not that good of a jig fisherman (anybody can yo-yo, and anybody can go codding with jigs, but fishing the surface iron takes skill). The boat ended up with 30 yellows, with around 10 of them on the surface iron.

Get out there and fish! There’s more than definitely going to be more to come, but once everything returns to normal, we won’t see fishing like this for years and years and years and years.

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Posted by: Jimmy | June 5, 2015

Long Haul from MDR for Yellowtail

Boat: SPITFIRE

Date: June 1, 2015

Trip: Extended 3/4 Day (6:30am – 5pm)

Destination: The 150

Crew: Capt. Jeremy Maltz, Derek, John

Load: 23 Anglers

The day before, relief captain John Corzel made the long run down to Long Beach to “make something happen,” and he found some yellowtail that were willing to bite. Today, we’d make that run with Jeremy to try to get on them again. We didn’t start fishing till around 10am, but it’s worth it if we get into the fish.

As it turns out, the fish kind-of put their noses down for us, but we had a brief window of opportunity. Of the 10 fish that were landed, only two came off of jigs, unlike the day before when all of the fish bit the yo-yo or surface irons. When one kid hooked into the first yellow of the day on a dropper loop within seconds of hitting bottom, I wasted no time switching over to bait. On the second stop, I got my fish, which went a solid 20 pounds. Joining me today was the newly-retired Tom, who was rewarded with two nice yellows and a small mako shark (released). One or two more stops produced yellows after that, and then they all scattered for the remainder of our time down there.

Highlight of the day was watching Jeremy hook up on a surface iron. Catching a yellow on a surface iron is still on my to-do list. But it’s not like I put in the effort – I’d rather catch than go for glory. One of these days, though…

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