CALI PADDY FISHING, PART 1
2. What to Look For
Once you find the current breaks in clean water that you want to target, it's time to head offshore. Don't forget to print out the SST maps and bring them with you when you leave the dock.
As you get near the target area, keep a close eye on your water-temperature gauge and look for the change in temperature you are expecting to see based on the SST maps. These temp breaks may move a few miles overnight so try to intersect them at near right angles. You may come upon the temperature change a few miles sooner or later than you expect depending on how fast the current is moving. Stay alert and don't slip by it.
When you encounter the temperature break, change course and zigzag back and forth across the edge while keeping a sharp eye out for kelp, birds or breaking fish. Continue working in this direction for several miles before giving up hope. You'll notice that where you find one kelp paddy, you'll usually find others.
Often times, however, you will come across current breaks without temperature changes. In calm conditions, the current breaks will look like slick rivers of water on the surface of the ocean. If it's rough out, they will be nearly impossible to see. When you come across these current breaks, use the same technique above to work your way down the break while looking for kelp and other signs of life.
3. Keep a Look Out
While the techniques already mentioned will definitely get you in the game, there are a few more tricks you can employ to further stack the deck in your favor. The first thing to consider is better visibility. This can be accomplished in a few ways, but the simplest way to see more water is to raise your vantage point. If you fish on a boat with a fly bridge, this really should not be an issue. Guys on smaller boats, however, need to get as high off the water as possible, but don't be stupid and make sure to stay safe. Consider adding a spotting tower to your current hard top. When you enter the zone or area where you plan to fish, get a buddy up on the roof and put him to work. Your effective range of vision from just seven or eight feet off the deck will be a massive improvement.
Another great tool for finding kelp paddies is a good pair of binoculars. Every serious offshore boat should invest in at least one decent pair of binos. Depending on your budget, these can range from $100 to $5,000 for a pair of gyro-stabilized binoculars. If you really want to get serious, gyros will give you a leg up on the rest of the fleet. There is a reason all of the top marlin fishing teams have several pairs of gyros on board.
You can spend all day glassing the surface for kelp paddies in a pair of gyros, using 14X power magnification from a moving boat. They aren't for everyone, but they truly are amazing. There are also a couple of lower-cost electronically stabilized binos available for around $1,200, and these offer a big advantage over conventional binos as well. When you combine a high vantage point and a pair of quality binoculars it's not uncommon to spot a kelp paddy from a distance of several miles!
These three steps will get you moving in the right direction when it comes time to head out in search of some kelp paddies.
Follow these suggestions and you will see a marked improvement in your hunting (and catching) almost overnight. But, there is still more to learn to effectively fish the paddies. Stay tuned for part two of this article to learn more about how to properly fish these offshore fish hotels and maximize your catch.
CAPT. ALI HUSSAINY
Ali Hussainy caught his first fish, a trout, with his grandfather at the age of three, and that sparked a fire in him as he chased the next bite all over the sierras. When he caught his first bonito from the San Diego bait barge, his life changed again. Trout never had the same luster — he was on to larger fish. He now chases saltwater fish wherever they swim. His passion for fishing led to the creation of the fishing forumwww.Bloodydecks.com, which he co-founded with Jason Hayashi in 2003. In the wintertime you can usually find Ali in the field or a duck blind, pursuing upland game or waterfowl. Ali is president of BD Outdoors. He is also the Tournament Director for the California Billfish Series, the largest marlin tournament series on the West Coast.