January 30. Seas forecast at 1 foot - which was accurate on the way out and close enough on the way back. Mellow ride at 30 mph.
Fished around 90 feet, water temperature 58 to 60. Thanks to the person on this site that recommended about 90 feet in winter in response to one of my posts a few years ago.
Started catching immediately but not a hot bite. Found a few porgies and a big school of undersized Vermillion. Moved around a lot trying to find the right spot.
Then the day maker mark,
We were led to the fish by these,
The birds weren’t really on bait, not diving or submerging just kind of fluttering around on the surface. There were no fish visible on or near the surface beside the birds. At first thought not worth checking but after watching for a while curiosity got the better of us. The birds are (I think, hard to identify in non-breeding plumage) red necked phalaropes and Bonaparte’s gulls. No idea what the birds were feeding on. Too small to see. Help please on bird identification and what they were doing.
Around the birds were tons of these and other fish,
The picture of the sounder was when the grunts were under the boat but we caught 10 species of fish around this bottom area. White grunt, whitebone porgy, ARS, vermillion, gag grouper, strawberry grouper (I think), almaco jack, amberjack, ringtail and BSB. Caught zero triggers and saw zero sharks. The ARS were around but not so heavy moving was required.
Put 16 of the approved fish in the box, around personal fish cleaning limit, and headed home. All cleaned up by 5 after leaving the dock at 10.
Heard on the radio the Coast Guard assisted someone submerged in the Wappo Cut, hope all ok.
One note on the required “descending devices.” After some trial and error seem to have this working ok. Use a great big trolling weight that can quickly go on and off. Device is attached to an old, inexpensive medium duty spinning rig that is in a rod holder. Had to use quite a few times on injured fish yesterday and, as far as could tell at the time, it worked efficiently. The fish released were back in deeper water quickly with minimal handling.
Don’t have an opinion about whether the injured fish survive longer term or with more severe barotrauma. That is above my pay grade. Interestingly different kinds of fish with swim bladders appear more or less likely to get barotrauma. The grouper are the worst from what I have seen and would like to see the grouper grow up and be somebody tasty after May 1.