CALICO AND SAND BASS BITE BEFORE THE STORM

There was some pretty decent wintertime bass fishing to be had over the weekend, but this week’s storm was likely strong enough to hit the reset button on the conditions in the hardest-hit areas. While we didn’t get much rain, there was quite a bit of wind associated with the system and that wind likely led to cold water upwelling along the beach and at the islands. The good news is that the wind probably won’t have as significant an impact on the deep-water bass bite as it will in the shallows.

Speaking of the shallow bass bite, the fishing along the beach was pretty temperamental before the storm as well. Jimmy Decker and I fished both above and below Newport Harbor on Sunday morning and managed a total of three bass on crankbaits and hard baits. The fish were biting pretty well if you fished a lure on the bottom but after determining they were biting, we went back to fishing shallow baits. I’m sure enough that the shallow bite along the beach is no longer happening that I’m probably going to take the weekend off from fishing unless I decide to run to Catalina.

Neither Catalina nor Clemente got a lot of fishing attention over the weekend, but my buddies that made the crossing reported having pretty good fishing at Clemente. That being said, the lack of weedless swimbaits sticking out of the fish’s mouths in the pictures I saw indicates to me that they likely had to resort to dumpster diving to get the fish to bite. While I’m not opposed to dragging a lure along the bottom to catch fish, I’m just not willing to drive that far to do it. Well, that is not until rockfish open back up next Tuesday.

Speaking of rockfish, if you’re planning to head out next week you need to be aware that the catch limits have changed. As of March 1st, you will only be allowed to keep 4 reds (vermillion rockfish) and 1 copper rockfish as part of your 10 fish bag limit. You can also keep 2 lingcod that are not included in the 10 fish limit. If you want to go nuts and take home 20 fish, you can keep 10 rockfish that fall within the RCG Complex plus 10 whitefish (or 8 whitefish and 2 lingcod).

The sportboats are still having pretty good fishing for sculpin and sand bass, but will definitely be switching over to rockfish next week, so if you want to fish for sand bass, this weekend its likely your last chance to do it from a sportboat. If you’d like to catch some rockfish before the opener, I’d take advantage of the good weather this weekend and hop on a 1 1/2 day trip to Colonet. The yellowtail fishing hasn’t been all that great down there the last few trips, but the quality rockfish are biting and you’ve got a very slim chance of running into bluefin tuna.

If you haven’t already heard, the Fred Hall Show was canceled this year and I’d imagine it’s gone for good. On a brighter note, last weekend’s Pacific Coast Sportfishing Show was very well attended and I’m sure it will continue to grow and next year will fill the void left by the Fred Hall Show. That’s about it for this week. Good luck if you’re heading out fishing!

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...