Here it is the last weekend in May and the fish are biting like it’s the middle of July. It’s impossible to say if the fishing will continue to get better or return to normal in the coming weeks. But one thing is for certain, this weekend would be a great time to get out and fish; so let’s take a look at what’s biting.
The Channel Island’s seabass and halibut bite has petered out a bit over the last week and as of Wednesday there were only four seabass caught by boats fishing out of Ventura County landings. The good news is that the barracuda have shown up in force along the coast and boats have been catching lots of big fish. This area is known for producing early season barracuda bites, so the bite bodes well for more fish starting to show up in LA and Orange County waters. While the exotics are taking a break in biting, boats fishing the Channel Islands are still loading up on quality rockfish and lingcod.
Sport boats fishing the Santa Monica Bay are still stuck in rockfish mode, but are expecting the barracuda to show up again any time.
Historically when the fish have shown up in force off Ventura, they’ve usually started to trickle into the Santa Monica Bay shortly thereafter. So, if you’re planning a trip out of Redondo or Marina Del Rey this weekend, be prepared to fish for barracuda but expect to catch rockfish.
Sport boats fishing the coast out of Long Beach and LA Harbor landings have been targeting sculpin this week. There are some barracuda around but between a lack of bait and an overabundance of seals, they’ve been pretty tough to catch. Twilight boats are still loading up on sculpin and sand bass, with fish up to 9 pounds being caught. The twilight fish are being caught on leadhead and squid, so you’re going to want to pack accordingly.
Private boaters fishing the coast are experiencing better fishing than the sport boats. Options include chasing bird schools for barracuda around the Horseshoe Kelp and Huntington Beach, fishing sand bass on the rocks and artificial reefs from Izors down to Newport and fishing calicos at Palos Verdes. Matt and I took our boat up to PV on Sunday afternoon and had really good fishing on the waxwing, surface iron and weedless swimbaits. In the three hours we fished we had approximately 30 bass up to 8 pounds with most of them in the 2-4 pound range. This bite is very current and tide dependent, so pay attention about conditions instead of particular spots.
Catalina is also kicking out some good bass fishing for private boaters. The biggest fish I’ve heard about this week was the 9 pounder that Scott Summersgill caught on a waxwing while fishing the backside of the west end.
There are still a handful of seabass and yellowtail being caught on the backside, but the best action has been on the front side for yellowtail.
3/4 day boats like the Pursuit and Sport King have been getting fish almost every trip but the counts can vary from a couple up to several dozen on any given day. Private boaters have been scoring on these fish as well as bloodydecker (and Catalina expert) Jonathon proved with his big score over the weekend.
The yellowtail bite at San Clemente Island remains sporadic. The Thunderbird is over there this (Thursday) morning and has a few fish on the boat and is marking more, so today may be one of the days they bite. I made the run over to San Clemente on Saturday on a friend’s boat and saw the fleet stacked up along the kelp below Eel Point. Saturday was one of the days the yellows didn’t bite, so by mid morning the sport boats all spread out to target bass or rockfish. As luck would have it, the bass also took a day off from biting on Saturday and we only ended up with a couple dozen fish to 7 pounds. Like with the Channel Islands, the rockfishing is pretty good at San Clemente, so if the yellows don’t bite you’ll still be able to load up on some nice reds.
The San Diego coastline and Coronado Islands are on a bit of a downswing right now as the yellowtail haven’t really been biting the last few days. My friend Danny Mun headed out on the San Diego on Monday and landed the only yellowtail of the trip (he also lost one to a seal). He reported that conditions looked good and there were fish around, but they just weren’t biting that day. The kelp beds in La Jolla and Point Loma are starting to come to life and the calico bass bite is improving by the day. In other news, the barracuda are starting to show up in at the Coronados and along the coast down there, so expect that bite to improve in the coming weeks.
Not too much to report on the offshore scene since last weekend’s big tuna scores. But with more trips scheduled this weekend, there should be some reports coming in soon. During the week, the Sauerfish ran south and caught some yellowfin tuna and yellowtail for its charter group.
The only other recent report was from the Condor who caught 2 bluefin tuna, 7 yellowfin tuna and 125 yellowtail on a 1 1/2 day trip. As I said previously, the bulk of these fish are currently outside of 1 1/2 day range, so those counts should improve as the fish work their way up the line. The offshore weather this weekend is calling for some wind, but hopefully it won’t be enough to affect the fishing.