45-pound white bass caught by local fisherman as sport fishing season kicks off – Orange County Register

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It was the last 15 minutes of a nine-hour sport fishing boat trip on Monday March 7 when a fisherman aboard the Clemente cast his baited line with live sardine in an area three miles offshore of Camp Pendleton known as Box Canyon.

It didn’t take long for the bait to be caught and whatever was snagged was running the fishing line back and forth trying to get loose, tangling the lines of others aboard the boat.

  • A 45-pound white bass was caught Monday, March 7 aboard the Clemente, a Dana Wharf Sportfishing boat. The fish is considered a “once in a lifetime catch”. Pictured, left to right, are Captain Chase Moore and Jared Donahoe, who caught the fish (Photo courtesy of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching)

  • Jared Donahoe of Fullerton holds a 45-pound white bass that was caught Monday, March 7 aboard the Clemente, a sport fishing boat from Dana Wharf. The fish is considered a “once in a lifetime catch”. (Photo courtesy of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching)

  • A 45-pound white bass was caught Monday, March 7 aboard the Clemente, a Dana Wharf Sportfishing boat. Pictured, left to right, Stanley Filipowicz, deckhand on the Clemente, Jared Donahoe and Captain Chase Moore. (Photo courtesy of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching)

“At first we thought it was a shark, the way it fought,” said Chase Moore, boat captain for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. “It took several times, then we guessed it was a game fish.”

After a 15-minute battle, the angler, Jared Donahoe of Fullerton, staggered into the huge white bass.

“It’s the only fish in our waters that I’ve never been able to catch,” said Donahoe, 27, who first learned to fish with his grandfather aboard another boat Dana Wharf at the age of 11. the life. It’s pretty crazy, I pulled out the fish of my dreams.

The 45-pound fish – a rarely caught size – is the first known, locally caught bass of the sport fishing season, which opened on March 1.

Nobody really expected to catch a bass, Moore said. Typically, these fish are found at much shallower depths and often near squid nests in about 100 feet of water or outside kelp forests in 30 to 60 feet of water.

“We’re not targeting them at those depths,” Moore said, adding that he thought the fish must have followed the squid, which landed them outside of their usual range.

The trip was a success for several of the fishermen on board – a good omen for the season, it seems.

After the fish landed, Donahoe, a baseball coach preparing for fire academy, divided the wealth between the crew and the other fishermen aboard the boat, leaving each to bring home pounds of nets. He also handed over the jackpot – the money collected by anglers before the trip and given to the angler who lands the biggest fish – to the crew.

“I would have spent hundreds of dollars going on a charter to catch a white bass,” he said. “Then it’s the least I can do.”

The catch is also of interest to marine biologists at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute who are studying white bass and trying to ensure the species’ survival.

Young cultured bass are spawned at the institute and then donated to local fishing and conservation groups in Southern California to be raised in saltwater hatcheries. There are several in the county of Orange, including Dana Point Harbor, which has two hatchery enclosures at the Ocean Institute and one near the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol Station.

The program is a collaborative effort with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to see how white bass thrive in the wild.

When the fish are caught, anglers are asked to flip the fish heads over so they can be checked for a small metal implant in their cheek. Fish will have this implant if they are part of the Hubb-SeaWorld program and were raised in the hatchery. If they don’t, that’s an indication that they were born in the wild.

“It’s part of the science,” said Wayne Kotow, executive director of the California Coastal Conservation Association, a fisheries advocacy group that helps raise money for the Hubbs-SeaWorld program. “The tags indicate when they were released, how long they were there and where they went.”

The white bass seems to be doing well, he said. The program, one of the first in the country, shows that they can be raised, released and thrive in the wild.

“If you look at catch rates and what we see in the water, we’ve seen huge fish that have been there for a long time,” Kotow said. “We have fish caught in San Francisco and along the Baja coast. Recovering the heads is important, it is part of the efficiency of the hatchery program.

Many anglers may not be aware that if the heads are returned with information for the angler, Hubbs-SeaWorld will return the gemstones – which help fish balance and are used to determine its age – to anglers. The bigger the head, the bigger the calcium stone.

Donna Kalez, who operates Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, is also a board member of the California Coastal Conservation Association. “I want to encourage people when they catch a legal bass (over 28 inches) to save their heads and turn it into a landing like ours,” she said.

“When I have three, I call them,” she said.

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