New Groundfish Regs – Local Impact

Happy to say I am back home in Southern California.  I got in late Thursday night.

One of the first things on the agenda…get back on the water!

I mentioned in the Leopard Sharks post how I’d been looking to get on the City of Long Beach.  The attraction at the time I mentioned it, was that they had been enjoying some good bass fishing prior to the rockfish opener.  Still wanted to check in on this boat, but naturally their program has changed post-opener.  Kicker to my interest was that Capt. Ryan Parker had reported seeing some yellows pop-up the weekend before last, so maybe I’d get lucky and be on the trip they decided to go.

                    Back online this week

My intention Sunday morning was to ride their morning halfie.  Midway into my drive over to Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach, crewmember Tim Shiau, texted me to hurry because they were leaving at 6 for their 3/4-day ride.  Wait what?  Yeah, they were covering the 3/4-day run for the Enterprise (right) who will be back online this week.  OK then.  Luckily, I made it to the boat on time and we set off to see what the local fishing grounds had to offer.

Trip Report – Sunday, March 17th

We already had bait onboard, frozen squid and live sardines, so no need to stop at the bait dock.  It was still dark on the way out.  Ryan recommended setting up a double dropper rockfishing rig, and a sculpin rig.  It was good that we didn’t have to stop, because Ryan said that only one spot bit well the previous day, and it was critical to get out there before the other local boats.  Sure enough, we got out there and several boats were also in the area (Sport King, Victory, Western Pride etc.).  We were in about 200-feet of water and I opted to start the day using my rockfish rig.  I put on strips of squid on both hooks, but added a live sardine on the lower one.  I always want to give myself an opportunity to entice a ling cod to bite my hook, and a lively fin bait is usually the best pick to make one go.  We anchored up and I casted out from the stern and dragged my way back to the boat.  Nothing happened, so I cranked up 5 cranks to see if there were any fish suspended off the bottom.  Nothing at 5, but I broke the ice on the day at 10 cranks up with a nice steamer sized red.

groundfishMy experience was atypical though.  Most of the fish going over the rail at the first stop were sculpin, so I changed rods after that first cast.  I had setup a sculpin rig on my bass rod which wasn’t ideal.  Would have been nicer to have a little heavier rod given the depth and amount of weight needed.  Took awhile to find the right combo of weight to cast with that light rod, and still hit bottom before my line was vertical.  Once I did though, I put together an easy limit (5).  Rod and tackle storage is at a premium on this boat, so make your choices count and limit the amount of gear you bring.  Good idea to check their recent counts and make your tackle choices accordingly.  Once the boat was sufficiently loaded on sculpin we moved on.

Here’s where the new depth regulations impacted the trip.

Thegroundfish next stop was right up to the new 450-feet depth limit.  Even though there wasn’t much wind or current, I was glad I had a 12 oz. sinker in the bag.  Luckily the conditions were what they were.  Under different circumstances, I would’ve wanted a pound of lead handy.  We drifted various deep water spots scratching away.  Nothing spectacular.  No lings.  A big cowcod made a showing.  I was pleased to see they had a Seaqualizer descending device and knew how to use it.  The cow was successfully released back to the depths.  The best of the rockfishing was a good snap in the afternoon on nice sized chilipepper rockfish that got us where we needed to be count-wise.  We had enough time on the clock to go shallow where boat regular Butch (right) seized the jackpot with a late sheephead using shrimp on a Carolina rig setup.

All in all a nice day of fishing.  I put limits of sculpin and rockfish onboard, took home what I wanted and left plenty for the boys to fill other passenger sacks with.  Thanks to Capt Ryan and crew (Bobby, Tim, Hank and Earl) for a nice day of local fishing.  I needed it badly.  The yellows bit this weekend at the Coronados, so I’ll probably head down there and check that out next weekend.

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 ...