Last week I opened my mouth too soon saying we are getting as many calm days as windy ones. This week has brought nothing but strong winds and small craft advisories. I should know better. Every year at this time we are teased with a few nice days and smacked right back up on the porch with hard weather.
Fishing before this blow we had a very difficult time finding mackerel for bait. One day there are loads and the next day they are gone. Can't blame it on a full moon but there are other contributing factors. Recently a pod of bottlenosed dolphin have been hanging out near the drop off where bait is generally easy to catch. There has also been a pod of common dolphin cruising up and down the coast near shore. I can't imagine how many tons of fish a whole pod of dolphin consume in a day but it has to be a bunch. Until they move on I believe the bait situation will remain grim. The mackerel also disappear when the humbolt squid move in. I'm certain the squid play havoc with bait fish.
Bait is key so we have learned to adjust when the live stuff can't be had. Rigged properly a frozen ballyhoo will swim like a live bait and can be just as deadly and work even better sometimes. Trolling what the locals call a "bruja" (ballyhoo with a small skirt on the nose) on a stinger or whisky line can be magic. Unlike artificials the bruja should be trolled with as little pressure on the drag as possible without the line free spooling. Accurate Boss reels are the bomb for this because they can be left in free spool and enough pressure can be applied with the cast control. Unlike an artificial lure the ballyhoo has the right texture and flavor so the game fish will suck it down.
Properly curing the ballyhoo before freezing makes much better bait. There are many secret recipes for curing. I have found brining them for a couple of days in a mixture of rock salt and baking soda with crushed ice works best. When they are ready we vacuum package them in seal-a-meal bags and they will stay good in the freezer until we need them.
On many occasions we are able to catch live bait off shore and always keep a Sabiki rigged for when the opportunity arises. A sabiki is a ganion of small hooks garnished with a little dried fish skin or colored yarn. Sometimes a spot of bait can be seen on the surface and several can be caught at a time by pitching the sabiki at them. Other times bait can be found with our depth sounder. Last year the shark buoys off shore was loaded for months. There was a smorgasbord of bait there and we caught horalijtos, caballitos, bullet tuna, scad and camiseta. All are excellent for marlin, tuna and dorado.
The camiseta is an interesting little fish. It is really a pilot fish but the local fishermen call them "camiseta" because it's strips look like a jail uniform.
It is off to Gringolandia for me. If you find yourself in Long Beach Ca between the 7th and 11th stop by and see us at the Fred Hall show.
Common dolphin making it tough to make bait
Horalijto aka blue runner or green jack. This is not my favorite but better than nothing when live bait is hard to come by.
Mixed bag at the buoys
Very good looking Jail Bait.
Gracie saw me packing and is giving me the cold shoulder. Ed the cat could care less.
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