Just For The Halibut – SoCal Fishing

The yellowtail bite at the Coronados seems to have shut off for the time being. Maybe white seabass is in play, but the full moon was Monday, and I’m not seeing any white seabass catches posted.

bluefin tuna reports

I was invited to go offshore on Friday (April 23rd) for a 1.5-day trip on the Tomahawk.

I love that boat. When it was previously running as the Eclipse, I had many memorable trips aboard it. Their previous trip was wildly successful. Capt. Mike Loust got his 17 passengers on limits of bluefin ranging from 30 to 130-pounds (right)! The opportunity is definitely out there, but the Friday night trip that I was invited to go on only got 1 bite all trip. A quality 150-pounder was landed as a result. Such is bluefin fishing. I don’t know if I’m mentally ready to go out there yet and try my luck.

surf fishing socal

I tried fishing the surf a couple of times this last week, hoping to see sand crabs and the corbina that inevitably comes with them.

I was sort of successful in that endeavor.

I was checking out a spot near La Jolla and found a big bed of micro sand crabs. I’m talking really small, like a grain of rice-sized. Too small to put on a hook, but sure enough there was a pod of about 5 corbinas slurping it up. Two problems though…the “beans” were only about 4 inches long, and a lifeguard came along to tell me it was a no fishing spot. I read the sign at the beach access point. It said, “No Take” which I interpreted literally to mean that you can fish, just not take any fish. That was fine with me, but Mr. Lifeguard had a different interpretation. Not wanting to push it, I left. He told me where I could fish and it requires a different access point, so I’ll give that a go next month when maybe the crabs and corbina are bigger.

Thanks to my last couple trips, I’m loaded up on rockfish, and happily, there’s some lingcod in the freezer too thanks to my Graylight charter that I wrote about last week. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy catching more, I just don’t have anywhere to put it right now.

So in the meantime, what’s a Southern California angler supposed to do?

I’m thinking halibut. I saw where someone posted this week in one of my fishing groups on Facebook, “I went out yesterday and skunked trying to catch halibut. Anybody got any tips?” Not wanting to be a smarta…smarty pants, I didn’t comment. But basically, there’s a good reason a shore halibut is sometimes referred to as “the fish of a thousand casts.” But when other fishing options are limited, now would be a good time to chip away on those casts.

My buddy Marcus Fain got one over the weekend throwing a 5-inch swimbait. I won’t divulge where, but it’s a spot that I would have never thought was holding any fish. Just goes to show that it’s more about putting in the time than it is about technique or a secret honey hole. Get those casts in and something good will happen eventually.

Another buddy Matthew Lowe and I were talking about halibut as we fished the bow on the Graylight last week.

halibut fishing California
California halibut

Matthew was saying how that shore halibut bite will be in full swing shortly. We’re planning a back-to-back next month…Friday, May 21 again on the Graylight, and then Saturday, May 22 on his boat. Matthew caught this magic carpet last year doing the same thing (left). Hopefully, at least one of us can reprise that awesome catch next month.

In the meantime, I think I’ll get in some casts on the shore. That Cherry Berry Lucky Craft I managed to score last month isn’t going to catch fish sitting in my tackle box. May as well put it to use.

Good luck if you get out there.

Joe Sarmiento
Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing boats of Southern California. In addition to writing his blog, Joe's writing has appeared in Western Outdoor News, The Log and Griffin Media. Joe is ...