Yellowtail Bite During Rockfish Opener

It’s Fred Hall week and I’m writing this before heading in for another long day at the show, so I’m going to keep this report short. Though dramatic for short periods of time, like the hail storm it brought to Huntington Beach, the storm we had earlier this week was milder than forecast. While it did keep most of the boats at the dock, the ones that did run scored on rockfish and yellowtail.

Since it’s rockfish season, let’s start up north and take a look at what’s biting this week.

Sport boats out of Ventura County had good scores on the rockfish every day the weather allowed them to get off the dock. As is usually the case, the best scores on quality fish came from Santa Rosa and the west end of Santa Cruz, while boats fishing closer to home loaded up on smaller fish in deeper water.

I spoke with Captain Larry Heron of Calico Hunter Charters and he reported running a client’s boat to the west end of Santa Cruz for excellent fishing on shallow water rockfish. If you’re interested in learning more about fishing the Channel Islands from your own boat or are just interested in a fun day on the water with an experienced guide, Larry said that he’s got some rare open dates on Saturday’s in the coming months.

Sport boats fishing the Santa Monica Bay are reporting good rockfishing on the local banks for a mix of fish with occasional good score on reds. The El Dorado out of Long Beach Sportfishing has begun running nightly trips to San Nicholas Island and the boat reported excellent fishing and good weather this week.

Catalina Island isn’t getting much pressure except from the Pursuit out of 22nd Street Landing; they’ve been doing well on a mixed grade of rockfish and also catching the occasional smaller yellowtail.

yellowtail bite rockfish opener

As expected, the yellows bit for the ½ day boats fishing the rockfish zones outside the Horseshoe Kelp. The Native Sun out of 22nd Street Landing and the Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing have been doing most of the damage. These are the same big fish that private boaters have been getting all winter and the boats are suffering heavy losses on most trips but are still managing fish every day. Earlier this week, the boats were scoring 20-30 fish per trip but off color water and changing conditions have made for tougher fishing in recent days.

yellowtail bite rockfish opener

The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach has been running nightly trips to San Clemente Island and getting big scores on yellowtail and rockfish. The yellowtail at the island are a mixed grade of fish that are biting yo-yo jigs fished in 150 to 250-feet of water and their best day was close to 80 fish. There are lots of quality rockfish being caught as well and most trips are getting limits.

yellowtail bite rockfish opener

Things have slowed down a bit on the yellowtail front, from Dana Point down to the Mexican border, but boats are getting good scores on the rockfish. If you’re looking to get in on some yellowtail fishing down that way I’d recommend jumping on a ¾ day trip to the Coronado Islands. Your best bet out of San Diego right now is still a 1-½ day trip to Colonett to target the big yellows and rockfish that are biting down that way.

Erik Landesfeind
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...