The Winter Wait – SoCal Fishing Report

My friend Ken Kim from Dash Point Pier in Washington arrived last week.  He’s doing what I was doing in reverse.  His mom lives in Rancho Cucamonga, but can’t live by herself anymore.  He’s here to work on getting her house sold in order to move her up north.  In the meantime, now I get to return the favor and show him around fishing down here.

Unfortunately, Ken is here during our slowest time of the year. It’s the time of year I un-fondly call the Winter Wait.

SoCal surf fishingLast Thursday (Feb. 4), I took him to Santa Monica Beach (right).  I figured we could catch some surf perch.  If things didn’t work out, then at least he’d enjoy fishing barefoot in the sand in sunny Southern California.  It was a beautiful day out and one of those rare days in the year that fishing on one of the most popular beaches in the world was possible.  As it turned out, the perch didn’t want to play.  The day wasn’t without excitement though, I hooked into about a 3-foot leopard shark that I got to enjoy pulling on for about 15 minutes.  It bit the Gulp! camo worm that I used to bait my light line Carolina rig.  Unfortunately, a big stringer of kelp got on me and the combined weight was too much on the flimsy 4# fluorocarbon leader I was using (we were fishing perch) and it busted off.  Right after that happened, Ken got picked up too.  The same end result, but actually a bigger thrill than either of us had bargained for, so it was a somewhat successful session on the sand.

sportboat fishing reports

Saturday, I met up with Ken at Bonelli Park in San Dimas.  He wanted to look at it for the potential of fishing largemouth bass.  I can attest to the fact that they’re in there because it’s the location of the one and only largemouth I’ve caught in the last decade-plus.  He didn’t end up fishing though and I found him re-organizing his tackle bag.  While he was doing that, I talked him into joining me that night to fish twilight on the New Del Mar.  I had just been on the boat Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 3).  It was a slow day fishing overall.  Capt. John Petrov took us out to a South Bay sculpin spot (left) to start the day.  The scullies weren’t plentiful, but the ones caught were big.  I was only 3 fish into my bag when John decided to make a move to Venice Reef to fish for bass.  By the time we got there though, the wind started to howl and we ended up calling it early.

Given I didn’t catch any bass, I was jonesing for a fix…hence the twilight trip.

Capt. Sigi Aguirre took us out to that spot off Will Rogers where the bass fishing had been really good that first trip of the year.  I hadn’t done a twilight ride in ages.  I think the last time I did was when the Liberty was still at 22nd Street.  I used to be a regular though on the NDM twilight back in the day.  It was cool seeing some of the people I remembered from those days way back when.  Fishing-wise though, it was a pretty slow night for all of us.  I caught a couple of bass, but they were both shorts.  Towards the end of the night, in a desperate move, I tied a dropper loop and fished a live sardine.  I figured maybe, just maybe, I could pull a jackpot out of the hat and catch a halibut.  At that point, one of the regulars, Howard, had given up on the trip and was huddled under the smokestack to keep warm.  He was watching me tie up…

sportboat fishing reports“You’re not going to catch anything doing that.”

“I’m not catching anything now, so why not give it a try?” I responded to him.  I didn’t catch a halibut, but at least I had the satisfaction of looking back at Howard and giving him a wink when I caught my second bass.

That was the extent of my fishing adventures this week.  Elsewhere though, the Legend out of H&M just started doing day trips to the Coronado Islands.  My friends Lori Heath and Rob Tressler were out there mid-week last week to give it a go.

Mexican rockfish tripsLori told me they looked around the islands and metered a few schools of yellowtail, but they didn’t want to go.  She mentioned that the water was still fairly cold (in the upper 50’s), so that may have been a contributing factor for their sluggish response.  But because they were fishing in Mexican waters, they had the backup of being able to go rockfishing.  Lori and Rob picked up a bag of nice reds for the effort and didn’t have to fish 400 feet+ as we did at Colonet to do it.  Worth the effort in my book.

Some bass, some sculpin, and Mexican rockfishing…typical sportfishing fare for this time of year.  I’ve got an idea for this week to try and put Ken on some fish during his visit.  Hopefully, it works out.  The good news is that we are less than a month away from the rockfish opener, signaling the unofficial start of our fishing season.  While we’re waiting for that to happen, remember that getting out is its own reward.

Good luck if you get out there.

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 ...