Captain’s Diary: Our local deep water basin is a factory of marine life | Outside


“It’s local, deep, mysterious and full of more life than we know,” said Captain Tiffany Vague (owner of Wave Custom Fishing Rods on the Santa Cruz Basin, south of Santa Cruz Island and less than 30 miles from Santa Barbara, as the crow flies. Captain Vague has captained many charter boat trips in the area.

As our primary local custom fishing rod maker, Captain Wave has crafted rods designed to tackle many of the region’s sport fish, including one of the deep water basin’s most famous inhabitants. , swordfish. These big fish inhabit the large basin and they are absolutely delicious.

Several kilometers south of Santa Cruz Island is a topographic feature so pronounced that it has a profound effect on the entire local food chain. In the space of half a dozen miles, the topography rises from the depths of the 6,000-foot-deep Santa Cruz Basin to the mountain peaks of the neighboring island…a elevation gain greater than 8,000 feet.

This spectacular climb makes the mountain behind Santa Barbara seem small. It causes major upwellings and channels large amounts of water along impressive, well-defined power cuts.

Upwelling powers the lower end of the food chain and power outages attract the upper end of the food chain which includes our favorite target species like swordfish which like to feed at around 1,400 to 2,000 feet deep along the flanks of the seamount. or escarpment.

This mysterious basin is also home to Humboldt squid sometimes, which is delicious for swordfish and is the favorite bait of people who fish for predatory swordfish. Market squids hold in the depths, rise to the surface, and move into the shallows of the island and mainland to spawn around full moons. The deep basin is a major resource for our complex food web.

If you like to spend warm days exploring or perhaps chasing the glory fish of the summer, such as yellowtail, gilthead seabream, marlin, shark and maybe even tuna, then the Santa Cruz escarpment is a good place to prospect. Trolling along long breaks in the current is an effective technique for marlin, shark and tuna.

These current breaks tend to gather paddies of kelp, so have a rig ready to launch towards the paddies as they come in, looking for yellowtail or dorado.

Closer to the island, white bass, yellowtail flounder and surface game, such as bonito and barracuda, take pride of place. Chasing bird activity and dodging baitfish is a very fun way to target surface feeders.

Captain Wave reports having had very good bites of skipjack on Santa Cruz Island chasing surface activity. White bass and yellowtail flounder are best caught in waters ranging from 30 to 120 feet. Measure until concentrations of baitfish, squid or large fish are measured, then anchor or drift the area and soak whole squid or sardines on sliding lead rigs and count loops -drops.

White jigs near the bottom are effective for white bass, while blue/white colors and scrambled eggs rising high in the water column are for catching hungry flounder. Hotspots for bass and yellowtail will be east of the Gull Island MPApink ribbon, yellow banksand sandstone point.

– Captain David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN inc., a non-profit organization providing boating opportunities to people in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.


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