It’s amazing what a week of semi decent weather can do for the fishing in Southern California.
For the first time in weeks, we were able to string together almost a week’s worth of nice days and the fish responded despite water temps in the low to mid-fifties in most areas. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s just jump right into the reports.
Starting up north, the weather laid down enough last weekend to make long runs possible. Matt Kotch and I took advantage of the weather window to launch out of Santa Barbara on Saturday morning and run up to Point Conception. While the ride up the line was nice, heavy current made for tough fishing early but once it dropped off around 10:30 a.m. the bite on big reds went wide open and in the next hour we managed limits of reds (averaging 4 to 6-pounds), limits of rockfish and a couple of legal lingcod. All of our fish were caught in 140-180-feet of water on jigs and 8-inch MC Swimbaits slugs fished on a 3-ounce leadhead.
If you fish rockfish on your own boat, I’d recommend taking a hard look at your meter when you stumble into some large reds that are biting. I fished quite a few non-productive spots on Saturday until finding one that marked the same way as a spot at Santa Rosa marked when it was loaded with big reds in December. I mentioned that fact to Matt as we were dropping on that spot for the first time and sure enough neither of us made it to the bottom before getting bit by a jumbo red. If I can reproduce this pattern again on my next trip I’ll know exactly what to look for and it will definitely cut down on fruitless drops in the future.
The rockfish bit well at all of the islands over the weekend as well and Santa Rosa even kicked out some yellowtail that were willing to bite in 50-degree water. Later this week at least one seabass was caught up there as well. The weather looks fishable at all of the islands again this weekend but it might be a little breezy at some, so check the forecast before heading out on your own boat. In other island news, Jimmy Decker and I fished Catalina on Sunday and had excellent calico bass fishing, on fish to five-pounds, in very shallow water on the east end of the island. All of our bites came in less than 15-feet of water and all but one bass was caught on the Lucky Craft DD100.
My friends Jay Jones and James Little fished San Clemente Island on Saturday and reported slow fishing overall but they did manage to get some big calicos on a variety of presentations. If you make the run to San Clemente on your own boat and find the bass fishing to be slow there is plenty of good rockfish structure around the 9-fathom spot that you can fish with your bass gear. The hot ticket for me the last few years has been fishing the 8-inch slug on a 3-ounce leadhead around structure in 150 to 180-feet of water.
Finally, the yellowtail are still biting well for sportboats fishing the Coronado Islands. I intentionally left private boats out of that statement because the yellows at the islands are not currently skiff friendly. All of the sportboats scores have been coming on deep schools of yellows that they are finding with their sonar and catching on the yo-yo iron or chumming to the surface. With few exceptions, the private boaters that are scoring fish are doing so by engaging in bad behavior and following the sportboats around while waiting for them to find some fish that they can poach. If you’re into that fine, but my advice would be to save yourself some frustration and or embarrassment, if you can’t control your desire to join in the gang bang, at home and jump on a sportboat. You can leave the driving to the captain and sit back and enjoy a burger and a beer while waiting for him to put you on the fish. That’s it for this week. Good luck if you’re heading out!