It’s easy this time of year to just kind of forget about fishing…
I’m not talking about me of course. I had my annual Colonet trip to kick off the new year. I’ve been working on my winter bassing game. I haven’t put as much time as I would’ve liked to at this point targeting halibut from the shore (right), but it’s something I’ll be doing this month for sure.
For a lot of fishing friends of mine though, they’ve put their gear away and won’t think about fishing until Fred Hall kicks off the season next month. This article is intended for everyone, but it’s especially for those offseason folks. I can find challenges and joy fishing for whatever is biting. For those of you though who are waiting for more substantial fishing to get going before you go, now is a critical time of the year. I’m talking about planning ahead for the upcoming season.
I was up in Seattle again this past week. It was cold and rainy. The only fishing related activity I did was spend some time at my local tackle shop up there, and listen to some podcasts. I was listening to the Let’s Talk Hookup pod with Brandon Hayward from a couple of weeks back. Brandon was talking about how he was mostly sold out already for the upcoming season and contrasting how his clientele is different from the typical angler. Brandon made the point of how some people complain about not being able to get on certain boats during certain times of the year. Brandon’s clients’ solution to this dilemma is to make your budget, look ahead on the calendar and book those trips now. It’s a better option than waiting, watching the counts, and getting shut out when things really get rolling out there on the water. With a little planning, you could be fishing instead of wishing. Here’s a little guide to help in your planning.
If you don’t already have plans for the rockfish opener, then chances are you are already out of luck. But rockfishing isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about when it comes to spring fishing. You never know when the elusive ghosts are going to pop up. This is one species that I do recommend chasing the counts. That’s what I did to catch this seabass (left) on the Endeavor last April. They started hitting on a Sunday. I booked on Monday and fished Tuesday. I was glad I did. I caught 3 on that trip and they were the only ones I got all year.
But if that kind of fishing spontaneity doesn’t work for you, what you can do is look ahead, book a trip and hope for the best. If you are trying to catch a specific species, like seabass, book more than one trip. I’ve already booked a charter on May 24th with the Sea Jay out of CISCO’s. I want to do more island fishing this year, and good weekend dates are always the first to get booked. I liked this particular weekend because A) it’s my birthday weekend, and B) the new moon is on Friday. Three days on either side of a new moon or full moon is seabass time. Hopefully, some squid pops up and it all comes together.
Also, June 15 is when the limit on seabass goes from 1 to 3. You might want to look ahead with that date in mind too.
Early Summer (IMO June and July) is typically a time of year where it’s ok to watch the counts and book appropriately. It’s the latter part of summer that is difficult (August, September and into the Fall). You’ve got a lot of annual charters that already have prime weekend dates booked. You also have the additional demand of all the seasonal anglers going out and taking their kids with them since it’s summer vacation. My go-to fall back of fishing the surf is a nightmare as well with seasonal beachgoers and tourists hitting the sand. It just so happens that this time of year is also high season offshore. You definitely want to look ahead and plan appropriately. I’ve got an overnight heading out Saturday, September 19th on the Tbird out of Point Loma. But I’d recommend looking at weekend dates now in this timeframe if you want to make sure you’re out on the water those dates.
Fall and Winter
Typically, Fall and Winter are a little easier to navigate on the fly. The kids go back to school and those annual charters are mostly done by now. This is when I typically like to go offshore. It’s usually a better grade of angler on board the boats in the Fall, so you aren’t spending your precious fishing time tangled. Something to think about for this time period are multi-day trips on the most popular boats.
This is the time of year that the big trophy fish are getting caught and it’s usually in the context of a longer trip. This cow bluefin (above) was caught last October on a multi-day Pacific Queen trip. Look ahead in those boats’ schedules, see when those open party dates are coming up and book now to reserve your spot.
Good luck when you get out there.