The crew at J&M has spent some time reflecting on the past season as winter time rolls in. We learned a lot this first year as a crew. While some of our crew members have been fishing commercially and recreationally their whole lives, some learned all the ropes as time went on this season. We couldn’t be prouder of how much we accomplished and learned this season about the fishery and about how to improve the sport fishing experience.
We caught a lot of fish this year! The extra depth we had for most of the season was amazing for lingcod habitat. We were able to fish in areas that had been closed for more than a decade previous to this year. It was very exciting to get down the coast and try a wide variety of depths and habitats. It was an added bonus to also keep one canary per angler this year.
We started making a point to run live bait as part of our regular program – especially when there is a limited load of passengers on for the day. On the weekends, it’s pretty tough to do live bait when the boat is full, but if you have your heart set on lingcod or bigger rockfish, come on a weekday with a smaller load of people. It’s also a good idea to get to know our crew while you are out with us. Odds are that if you are after something specific, the crew will have some tips and/or try a few things for you. We have also made it a standard to staff two deckhands when the boat has more than 30 people on it so that we can be sure to give guests a better experience on board.
Afternoon fishing was a lot of fun this summer! It makes for a long day for the crew but they had fun and caught great fish in the afternoons this year. We are looking forward to opening up those trips again next year when the days get a little longer.
In regards to fishing for bait this year – it was good to have some cold nutrient rich water all season. The upwelling cycle this spring did make it difficult to get the boat out some mornings because of the rough weather, but it did bring in good schools of small tail fish species. We had a lot of fun using smaller mackerel for bait but also catching horse mackerel to keep. There was some squid around but not a huge season, so we relied on mackerel and sand dabs for live bait most of the time.
It was a minor setback to lose the extra depth we had at the start of the season when October came around. We still had great fish and learned a great deal about where along the coast was producing the best catches. We are hoping that we will get that depth back for next season.
As a crew and company, we really came in to our own this year. We invested a great deal of time in to cleaning up the vessels and the building. We also upgraded the equipment we rent to guests, as well as what the crew uses on board. It has been quite a journey and transformation as we settle in to the team and location at J&M on the wharf. As time went on we gained some regular clients and rekindled old relationships with historic clients of Randy’s. We also ran a few sponsored trips with some of our tackle suppliers which was great for us and them.
Looking to next season we are excited to put all we invested and learned this year in to a great season of fishing! We want to make a point of fishing further down the coast throughout the whole season. We are also striving to work more habitats and move around to different spots throughout each trip while targeting more lingcod. If the depth is opened up again we may try new areas entirely! We are also drafting some ideas and trip dates to make long runs to Pt Sur or Lopez when conditions are favorable. Stay tuned!
Our favorite trip this year had to be one of the days we fished down at Soberanes. The weather was beautiful, flat calm, fairly warm and we had a nice drift on a southern current. It was an hour and a half run to get down there but we only had to fish for 30 minutes to have bag limits! Our anglers pulled in huge boccacios, yellows and vermillions along with some nice lingcod. Fishing was fantastic that day!
Some of our favorite surprise catches this year were: Bonito, Horse Mackerel, Wolf Eels, Sharks, Tree Fish and Halibut!