DANA POINT, Calif. -- Steering the 95-foot Dana Pride out of Dana Point Harbor at 6 a.m., Captain Jack Van Dyke was cool, calm and collected. He knew what he was up against and had a plan to counteract it.
The water temperature off Southern California was holding steady at 61 degrees. The nutrient rich fishing zone, created by the intersection of the Davidson current and the California current, had shifted far offshore. And the tides and currents made matters worse. The fishing throughout the region had been flat-out bad in the past week.
Despite the obstacles, Van Dyke and the crew of the Dana Pride, one of the daily charters from Dana Wharf Sportfishing, had to find a way to get their 30 customers some catches. The measure of any fisherman's success comes from the ability to adapt to the situation, which is exactly what Van Dyke did.
He knew that the deep waters wouldn't be affected by the frigid surface temperature, so he targeted the hard bottom 240 feet below. The result was 32 Sculpin, two Vermilion Rockfish and nine Rockfish.
A few hours later, when the temperature warmed a bit, the boat trudged to the 50-foot shallows and started a chumline. Customers reeled in 76 bass, which were released, and two halibut, one estimated at 20 pounds.
"About 15 years ago, you could motor to these spots and drop anything and start getting bites," VanDyke said. "But now, you have to be right on the spot and with the right bait."
In what Van Dyke called the toughest of conditions, his adaptations saved the day - and put hefty halibut meat on the table that night.
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