After spending the last two weeks beating our heads against the wall at Clemente, it felt really good to sleep, make a ten-minute run instead of a two-hour run, and enjoy a fun day of mixed bass fishing along the coast. While it took looking in a few different areas to find fish in the 58-degree, mostly clean, water between Newport and Huntington Beach, we eventually found a steady pick on bass in structure from 50 to 60-feet deep. Despite the cold water and deeper depths, the calicos were schooled up and willing to bite a crankbait while the sand bass were readily chomping on anything dropped to the bottom.

The willingness of bass to come up and feed on the surface during the winter may seem surprising to anyone that’s ever fished wintertime bass on a sportboat but that’s what happens when you throw a loud 65-foot long shadow directly over a rock or reef. If you’re a private boater looking to try and catch suspended fish over deep structure, the key is to run your bait across the spot without running the spot over with your boat. With the new cartography available it’s easier than ever to slide up just off the side of a spot and cast towards it. Whether you’re fishing calicos or sand bass in water less than 80-feet deep, they’ll almost always bite better if you don’t sit right on top of them.

Sportboats fishing the coast from Marina Del Rey to Oceanside continue to experience mostly good fishing for bass and sculpin using the squid and lead head technique. Boats that have live squid are experiencing the best fishing right now so it may be worth looking around to find out which boats have it before booking your trip. The half-day boats in San Diego are also catching bass but they’ve been getting some nice halibut as well. These halibut were caught aboard a half-day trip on the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing earlier this week.

Boats fishing rockfish in Mexican waters are having good success with the longer trips catching the biggest fish. San Diego landings are offering trips from extended 1/2 day to 1 1/2 day targeting rockfish, with the longer trips giving you a shot at yellowtail and potentially bluefin tuna. The boats that made the run down to Colonet over the weekend had scratchy yellowtail fishing but loaded up on quality rockfish.

There weren’t any bluefin tuna seen or caught in a couple of weeks now but it sounds like there is enough fish down below that area that we should see them start to slide up the coast in the near future. We’ve got some fantastic weather in the forecast this weekend so I’d imagine that there should be some guys that get out and stretch their boat’s legs a bit, so let’s hope that they find some bluefin. Good luck if you’re fishing this weekend!

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...