Coastal Bass and Sculpin Bite

Bass caught

Welcome to winter in Southern California where the fishing interest is lacking. The steady stream of rain showers that have been coming through every few days seems to be just the recipe to keep boats at the dock and anglers doing things other than fishing. The good news is that the fish are biting despite the lack of participation, so if you’re interested pick a day that it’s not supposed to rain and go fishing.

navionics With rockfish closed, sport boats in the Long Beach area are fishing sculpin with a side of sand bass when they can get off the dock. Captain Ryan Parker on the 1/2-day boat Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing reported good fishing for both species on Wednesday’s trip. This is classic leadhead and squid structure fishing, so bring lots of leadheads and some heavy leader. You’ll need to get your bait right down into the structure to get the right bites and this can result in a fairly high turnover rate on leadheads due to snags.

Bass and Sculpin Bite - Coastal Bass I’ve got a piece of advice for anyone fishing structure for Coastal bass or sculpin this winter. If you feel tension on your line and aren’t sure if it’s a bite or a snag, slowly lift your rod a few inches instead of swinging. A fish will pull back a little so if you feel that set the hook immediately. But if you just feel continued tension, drop your rod tip to get a little slack and give your rod a good shake. A lot of times this will dislodge your hook from the structure. Once you swing on the snag, you’re probably going to lose your leadhead because you just buried it in the reef.

Private boaters fishing the coast  have much better angling options.

fishing - Coastal BassCaptain Jimmy Decker also fished on Wednesday and reported wide open bass fishing in flat calm conditions off Huntington Beach. He and his client landed over 50 mixed bass for the morning while fishing crankbaits and swimbaits over hard bottom areas. “The water was green in tight to the beach and the sand bass were biting but they were all tight to the bottom. We caught fish on crankbaits, swimbaits and Gulp! Jerk Shads. After a while, I moved out deeper to where the water cleaned up and the calicos were up chasing bait schools. Those fish bit the crankbait until we’d had enough and called it a morning.” With good fishing close to home, Decker is offering half day trips out of Newport Harbor and can be contacted through his website.

fishing trips  - Coastal Bass

Down in San Diego, the Premier out of H&M Landing is running extended 1/2-day trips into Mexican waters to target rockfish. These trips run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and all anglers must have a valid passport. All of this week’s trips came back with good numbers of quality rockfish and a few ling cod in the mix.

None of the 1 1/2-day trips got off the dock this week to go and fish the yellows at Colnett, but there are several trips online departing Friday night. If the current weather forecast holds true, those trips should be able to get in a rain free day of fishing and have decent running weather. So, if you’re itching to go pull on a big yellow, you should call and make a reservation.

Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California and Mexican waters. Erik is also an active freelance writer and the author of the weekly column So Cal Scene, which BD publishes every Friday. In So Cal...