Good Inshore and Offshore Fishing

Greetings from the overgrown, and extremely humid, hinterlands of upstate New York. Despite being forced to languish at my wife’s parents house in the hippy infested wasteland that is modern day Woodstock, I’ve kept my finger on the So Cal fishing pulse and am happy to report that things are firing on all cylinders. While the full moon did throw us it’s usual curve ball over the weekend, overall it’s been another good week of fishing across Southern California.

Speaking of which, Matt Kotch, Jimmy Decker and I made the run to San Clemente Island on Saturday, despite having sworn off making island bass runs during the full moon because the fishing always sucks. I guess that Stephen King was right when he penned in Shawshank Redemption that, “Hope springs eternal.” While I’m sure the actual quote can be traced back much further in literature, I was too lazy to look it up as I was too lazy to check the tide charts and swell report before we launched the boat.

While the crossing to the island was a good one, an extremely low tide coupled with a significant south swell, made most of the areas we like unfishable early, which left us struggling to get bites in the deeper water that usually bites better later in the day. After several hours spent beating our heads against the wall for very few fish and many accusations about which one of us was the idiot, that wanted to go bass fishing on a full moon, we finally found a short stretch of island that had the current running parallel to the island and the swell quartering into the beach.

The next couple hours were as good as Clemente gets with big bass destroying the weedless both in inches of water along the beach and sometimes inches from the rod tip around kelp stringers.

We’d planned to leave the island by noon in order to make it to Buena Park by 4:00 p.m. to tape the 200th episode of the Cast and Crank Podcast, but the fishing was good enough that we called it at 11:00 a.m. to leave us time to look for tuna on the way home. There was a lot of generic 69 degree water between the east end of Clemente and home but there was a hard three degree temp break 8 miles off Newport where we chased around quick moving spots of bluefin tuna before having to call it a day and head to the podcast. Decker had a charter the next day, leaving at 8:00 a.m. and working that warm water zone along the beach. He found a paddy that produced three dorado and a yellowtail and then got a call from a friend who’d found tuna a mile off the pier in Newport, where he slid in and caught a bluefin before being back in the harbor before 2:00 p.m.

While Decker only uses artificial lures when fun fishing he will take bait when fishing offshore with clients and he had a tip to offer if you find yourself around fast moving spots of breaking fish. After you’ve tried unsuccessfully to run up on breaking spots of fish, stop the boat in the area they were and look for breezes or fish shining in the swell. Once you find them, nose hook a sardine on a small light wire circle hook and slow troll it a good ways behind the boat on 20-pound fluorocarbon. He did that on Sunday and was rewarded with an instant hook up. If you’d like him to personally show you how it’s done, you’re in luck as he’s gone back to guiding part time and you can reach him on Instragram @fishingwithdecker or on Facebook at Fishing With Decker.

If you’re looking to target big bluefin you’re either going to need to charter a 4-pack boat or get on a sport boat that is running trips focusing on big tuna, preferably a multi-day trip. As far as the 4-packs go I think that most boats are booked solid but I did see that Daron Muratyan at Freshbait Sportfishing has some limited availability. While this definitely isn’t my style of fishing, I’d recommend anyone who is interested in catching a big bluefin on a flyer to book a 4-pack trip and bring less than four guys so you’ll have a better chance of catching a trophy fish.

Big bluefin aside, overnight boats fishing San Clemente Island are scoring lots of nice yellows along with smaller bluefin that are biting on the anchor. Overnight boats fishing offshore are finding good kelp paddy fishing for yellows, dorado and tuna. In the meantime, the boats fishing the Coronado Islands are continuing to have excellent yellowtail fishing. Good luck if you’re headed out there this weekend. The weather looks great and since I’m stuck on the east coast, I’m sure the west coast fish will be biting!

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...