It’s been another week of good winter fishing across Southern California. Well, at least for those who aren’t too hard headed to adjust to what the fish are biting. Case in point, I’ve made two trips to San Clemente Island over the last couple of weeks and my grand total for those trips is zero calico bass. After a tough first trip of the year to the island with Matt Kotch, who at least caught a half dozen fish on weedless swimbaits, I returned to the island with Jimmy Decker and Rob Kato over the weekend.

My high hopes of redemption were dashed when we arrived to find the exact same clear water and overcast conditions I’d left there the week before. After several hours of going through the motions of targeting calicos in the top 3-feet of the water column for nothing, Rob tied on a swimbait and leadhead, dropped it down and immediately caught a bass. Having determined that the fish were biting, we continued to flail away with weedless and hardbaits for the rest of the morning without hooking a single fish. The few short bites we did get during the hours we fished came off the only section of kelp at the island that had some sun shining on it through a break in the clouds. While I won’t be heading back to Clemente anytime soon, I am going to make damn sure that a sunny day is in the forecast when I do.

A couple of my buddies had much better fishing over the weekend than I did. Captain Larry Heron, of Calico Hunter Charters, fished the coast off Santa Barbara on Saturday and waylaid the sand bass. After the trip he reported, “I ran this weekend’s trip out Santa Barbara again as I wanted to see if we could get on those bass I found a couple of weeks ago. We had similar tides to the last trip but the current really didn’t kick in later in the morning, but once it did it was game on! My guests and I left them biting with 110 mixed bass to just over 5-pounds and the sand bass really stole the show! The bass bit various artificial lures, but once again 4 and 5-inch Big Hammer swimbaits with Calico cocktail stole the show!

Brandon Vulgamott went bounce balling along the coast on Sunday and had the solo trip of a lifetime landing a 34-pound halibut and a 39-pound yellowtail. Brandon’s success aside, it sounds like the halibut bite along the coast is still on the slow side but the local boats are still getting good scores on sand bass and sculpin. I haven’t heard much from Catalina, but it sounds like there are still some bonito, halibut and calicos biting a little but not all that well.

The boats making the run down to Colonet are still reporting slow yellowtail fishing, but on a brighter note, they are starting to see more bluefin tuna. The Tribute found the bluefin up foaming while they were fishing rockfish and even had one bite a shrimp fly on a rockfish rig. The boat reported seeing good sign of foaming bluefin in the 30 to 40-pound range so I’m hoping that the boats that make the run south this weekend find them again.

While we’ve got some Santa Ana winds in the forecast, it looks like the weekend weather will be fishable from Santa Barbara to Colonet. That being said, I’d check the weather forecast for the specific area you’re planning on fishing this weekend because these winds tend to blow a lot harder in some places than others. 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...