Decent Fishing to Ring in the New Year

Happy 2022 everyone! Due to the holidays, it’s been a while since my last report, but trust me when I tell you that you haven’t missed much. With the amount of weather we’ve had the last few weeks, there wasn’t much happening even when it wasn’t raining or blowing. The good news is that the weather has gotten back to normal and there are some good fishing options available for the weekend.

In case you’re unaware, rockfish are closed until March 1st, so if you’re a sport boat angler, your fishing options are fairly limited. Most of the 3/4 day boats are offline and doing yard work and the ones that aren’t are fishing right along the 1/2 day boats for bass and sculpin. As is always the case at this time of year, the best fishing is going to be on the boats that have live or fresh dead squid for bait, so I recommend calling the landings to find out the bait situation before booking a spot.

Private boaters have a lot more fishing options as shown by these halibut my buddy Brandon Vulgamott caught over the weekend while fishing at Catalina Island. While I haven’t heard much about the bass bite at the island, the bonito bite along the front side east end has been good. If you’d like to target the bonito, I recommend trolling a small deep diving hardbait, like a Lucky Craft DD100, at 3 or 4 knots in 90-feet of water. Once you locate the fish you can stop the boat and catch them by casting hardbaits or small jigs. The fly fishermen have been getting in on the action too with Salty Fly Guide Service.

A few bass guys made their yearly New Year’s trek to San Clemente Island and not surprisingly the bite was slow due to unstable post-storm water conditions. The waters around Clemente, and everywhere else for that matter, have had a week to stabilize so the bass bite should be much improved by this weekend. If you’re looking to fish bass on your own boat, your best options are fishing deep structure along the coast or fishing shallow at one of the islands.

Now that we’ve talked about what is happening, let’s take a minute to look at what might be happening. First off, there are probably still some bluefin to be caught at Tanner Bank but as of yet there hasn’t been any boat coverage. There are boats online for this weekend, but I’m not sure if they’ll get enough people to get off the dock. Boats are also online to start running down to Colonet and hopefully they’ll find some yellowtail when they get there and some bluefin on the way home. If not, at least the passengers will be able to load up on quality rockfish in Mexican waters. That’s about it for this week, good luck if you’re heading out!

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...