Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve Halibut

     Tommy, David and I decided to cap off the last day of the year with a lazy, late start halibut trip in local waters.  After a rib eye and lobster scramble to start the day and dispose of the evidence of our Saturday night gluttony, we meandered down to Dana after the fog began to dissipate around 10 am.  The tide was still fairly high, but planning a ferocious ebb.

     We got a great couple of passes of sardines from the Baitmasters at Everingham's and headed down toward an area outside San Clemente Pier.  We started our drift in 135 feet of water, using three ring swivels, 8 ounce sinkers and a trap hook set up with 25# fluorocarbon leader and 3/0 octopus hooks.

      The wind was out of the east and the current was pretty slack, so we power drifted and "bounce-balled" our sinkers at depths between 100 and 130 feet.  We got no love, as the fish were not ready to bite.

      We hadn't budgeted a lot of time for this outing, so we decided to try up closer to the harbor for a final few drifts. We set up in about 98 feet of water near the eastern most Candy Cane marker, just outside the deepest of the commercial lobster buoys. The wind had shifted to a more traditional westerly blow that accelerated our drift.

     We marked a lot of activity toward the bottom and the area felt fishy.  After we bagged a couple lizard fish and a sand bass, Tommy got to reel in a fish that felt like the right kind.  We were able to boat a nice 26 inch halibut that guaranteed a great New Year's Eve dinner.  We were stoked to be on the board with the elusive species we were targeting.

     We moved further west and outside into 120 feet of water beyond the western candy cane to the flag buoy.  After about 100 yards we got the vibrato on a rod tip that signaled bait molestation.  We put the reel in free spool before slowly picking up the slack and arcing the rod into the telltale head shakes of a healthy halibut.  We brought it up slowly with a loose drag that allowed it to take line when it decided to surge.  It glided to the net without much hysteria and was on the deck for a quick tap to the head before relocating into our bathtub style main bait tank.  This one was 32 inches and had considerably more heft than its roommate.

     It was close to 2 pm and we were pretty satisfied with our haul, so we jammed back to the harbor and were at the gas dock in five minutes.  It didn't take much to top off the tank after a pleasantly short excursion in such gentle weather.

      It was a great way to leave 2017 in the rear view mirror, and remind Tommy and Davey that sometimes a plan can come together just like in your dreams the night before. As Isaak Walton noted - That is the charm of fishing, the pursuit of that which is elusive, yet attainable.  It is the lure of failure cast to trigger anticipation in a perpetual series of occasions for hope. Hope is something America can certainly use as we look to make this a better year than the one in our wake.

      The end of the year invariably makes us all think of Time, the stream that we all go fishing in for the moments that matter, whether they are big or small. 

        Here's wishing that The New Year brings you times that are good, occasions for hope and the chance to dream, because

These are the Days


  1. I enjoyed every word and line. Thank you for sharing your day. I enjoyed your writing style reading all the goings on; on your Pleasant short Excursion.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. May the New Year bring you smiles

  2. Happy New Year! Great "fish" story ;]

  3. I love the line "...the area felt fishy"
    It's like Madame Cleo directed you to the perfect spot.