Fish Sniffer On Demand Digital Edition Issue 3714 June 22-July 6, 2018 - Page 9

FRESHWATER VOL.37 • ISS. 14 June 22 - July 6, 2018 9 Potluck Notes… > Big halibut, stripers and lingcod… You can expect to land these species and more during an S.F. Bay/ Coastal live bait potluck trip! presents S.F. Bay Halibut Strategy A < Live anchovies are the bait of choice for halibut and bass on live bait potluck trips. The baits should be handled gently and pinning “through the lips” with a fine wire live bait style hook. The livelier the bait the more hookups you’ll get. > sk Bay Area saltwater enthusiasts what their favorite gamefish is and you’ll get several different answers. Some guys will point to the chinook salmon that traditionally roam the waters outside the Golden Gate. Others will name the voracious lingcod that lurk amongst coastal reefs. Still others will confide that it’s the hard charging striped bass that stack up both within San Francisco Bay and in the surf zone outside the gate that have a special place in their hearts. King, lings and stripers are all wonderful gamefish that’s a given, but from a pragmatic standpoint none of these species deserve to be described as the Bay Area’s premier saltwater gamefish. Now I can already hear the salmon lovers and striper disciples crying foul, but what attributes should a gamefish poses to be considered the best? First of all, the species should have strong fighting ability and the potential to attain hefty proportions. Secondly, the species should be accessible, meaning that a large percentage of anglers have the opportunity to target them. Thirdly, the fishing season for the species should be long. Finally, the species should provide topnotch table fare. So is there a Bay Area saltwater species that meets all these criteria? Absolutely! I’m talking about the robust population of California halibut that inhabit San Francisco Bay. The halibut caught within the bay average 5 to 12 pounds and range up to and beyond 40. Halibut have a clumsy ap- pearance, but they are capable of putting up a spirited fight and display bursts of lightening speed. In terms of table fare, halibut have few rivals yielding firm white fillets that taste great whether baked, broiled or beer bat- tered! Bay Area halibut are highly acces- sible since you can target them effectively from you own boat or from one of the bay’s numerous charter boats. Because you’ll be fishing in the bay, weather is typically not a factor. This is a welcome contrast to fishing outside the gate, where wind and swells can keep you off the water. Halibut can be taken in the bay all year long, but the prime time for targeting them begins in late April and extends through the end of October. Trolling and drifting are the two basics approaches to catch- ing Bay Area halibut. Trolling will generally put more fish in the box, but it is tough to match the adrenaline rush you feel when a halibut grabs your ancho- vy as you drift with light tackle. Since live bait drifting is the standard approach employed on most charter and private boats let’s consider that method first. If you are fishing on a charter boat, they will supply live anchovies. If you are fishing from a private boat you’ll need to purchase live bait. Live anchovies are available at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Another option is using shiner perch. You can buy live perch at various Bay Area bait shops or you can use a light spinning rod baited with bits of pile worm to catch your own around piers and other structure. Perch are actually the best choice for the private boaters since they are much hardier than anchovies and also tend to draw strikes from larger halibut. When I get out on the bay to drift for halibut I take along two outfits and I sug- gest you do the same. Your all around rod needs to be capable of handling sinkers up to 8 ounces. Since bites can be light you’ll want a sensitive stick, but it has to FISH SNIFFER HOW – TO A good potluck live by Cal Kellogg bait rig consists of a reel with a smooth drag loaded with 30 to 65 pound braid teamed with a rod that features a fast action and sensitive tip. < Here we see a deckhand deftly scooping a halibut just beyond the Golden Gate. When you hit the water aboard a charter boat the deckhand is your most important resource. Ask him questions and follow his advice. He wants you to be successful! CONTINUED ON PAGE 18