Advice/Perspective for a newbie in San Diego

NukeDawg

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 27, 2008
282
239
San Diego, CA
Name
dub-dub-dub
Boat
17' Arima Sea Angler
First i want to thank everyone who contributes to these forums. i've learned an immense amount. its such a great resource.

i've been on the forum for quite a while but recently bought my first boat to fish the bay and inshore stuff (on the right day). i'm a m-f, 9-5'er and try to fish 1 day a weekend with my young son. i joined fishdope and have been using the gps # as my starting point focusing on point loma. i've mostly been drift fishing (bottom) live sardines. i haven't been skunked often, but certainly not putting up big numbers. i'd appreciate any feedback/perspective as to how you got started and what i should focus on to continue to learn. All advice welcome.

Couple questions:
  1. when you have a gps # (something like the "dropoff") should i focus on being close to that spot to start? or should i look within 25-50 yards of that spot to find fish?
  2. how long are you fishing a spot before trying another? are you generally committing to run spot to spot or do you generally plan to fish one spot or small area and put most of your fishing time into it?
  3. if lets say there are 5 well known spots in point loma, e.g. dropoff, pipe, tanks,etc... how many other spots have you found or do you know of in that same general area? what i mean is are you usually fishing like 5 more spots in that same area or something like 50 more spots in that area that you've found?
  4. Anything you've learned (and willing to share) that you wish you were told when you started?
  5. any big moments, experiences, knowledge that changed the way you find and catch fish?
i'm really passionate about the sport and happy to put in the time, just want to get started on the right foot. thanks in advance.
 

FishinMcNuggets

I've edited enough I should section this post.
Oct 25, 2010
1,117
744
Hermosa Beach, CA
Name
Mike
Boat
Avon 2.85 "C-¢"
Navionics phone app & Google Earth for bathymetry

Look for Structure and/or transition areas (clean/dirty, sand/rock, warm/cold, kelp/no kelp, shallow/deep)

Buy some books based on your fishing interests (bass, WSB, lobsta)

Tailor your bait to your quarry.
 

Kevofish

Member
Jul 13, 2016
30
11
Carlsbad, CA
Name
Kevin R
Boat
Wellcraft 290 Coastal
Best advice is to bring an experienced local angler out with you on one of your trips. Watch everything he/she does, ask questions when unclear and sponge in all their knowledge. You will learn much more on the water seeing it for yourself.

There will be plenty of guys on this forum who will trade a day of free inshore SD fishing to share some of their knowledge. You can also hire a guide to go out with you on your own boat to show you the proper fishing techniques to target our inshore species, boat handling skills, how to read your sonar correctly, etc (i.e. Dave Hansen).

I've also learned a ton of information on BD and other forums. However, most of my core knowledge comes from watching and listening to better anglers, especially my father when i was young. (..and, of course, learning from my mistakes!)

Great post by the way and I'm looking forward to hearing some of the other member's responses since the more knowledge the better!
 
Last edited:

MYNomad

Heading South
Dec 12, 2007
3,796
4,080
Pacific Northwest / West Coast Mexico
Name
Rick
Boat
Yes
I am the last that should be offering advice on how to catch fish, but here are some thoughts:
1. There are lots of "spots" besides the well known ones. The well known ones may be most prominent, but they tend to get the most pressure. Also, the most prominent spots tend to be the largest (for example, Tanner bank is huge), so there are spots within spots.

2. IMO (and this is probably dead bang wrong), most of the time, even when fishing structure, it is a mistake for private boaters to anchor. It is easy enough to drift and resposition, and if you are on a spot with no fish, you save the hassle of setting and pulling the anchor. That said, if you are on fish, or if you are confident that fish will come through, and especially if you can chum, then anchor.

3. Lots of really great fishermen never develop the skill of finding fish because they fish party boats and the captain does that for them. Bringing one of those guys with you won't help with the first half of the equation.

4. The best way to get good is to focus on a species and area and perfect that. Don't do like me and fish for everything everywhere.
 

surfgoose

active geezer
Jul 29, 2010
2,946
4,399
Long Beach, CA, USA
Name
Gary
Boat
whichever has the longest bunk
Adam, if your boat is the 13-footer you list in your header, and you are fishing with a young son, then I strongly urge you to concentrate on the many fish that are available to you inside the bay rather than going outside to Point Loma. Just one unexpected wave coming from a ship a mile away can ruin your day. If you do go outside, keep your head on a swivel like you are a fighter pilot in enemy airspace.
If you are fishing in only a handful of fathoms of water, the most important thing is not Where you are fishing, but When you are fishing. The tides are critical, because inshore they provide current to the water, and most of the fish that you will catch are ambush predators who are facing into the current and watching for something possibly edible to swim by within a few feet so that they can pounce and quickly retreat before something even bigger eats THEM. The "numbers" are all about structure, and will get you over a potential fish ambush point, but your boat may be drifting or anchored and pushed by the wind, but the water current below can be a very different direction.
The biggest single change that I see new people make that improves their experience is trusting in lighter tackle. You will get a lot more bites, and still land 90% of those bites, if you drop down in size of line, hooks, weight, etc. There was a time when most of us used Jigmaster 500 reels with 20# line because we thought that was what we needed. Now we're using reels and line just half that size, and getting a lot more fish.
 

stuman

Brawndo the thirst mutilator
Sep 18, 2004
1,572
1,325
Oside
Name
stu
Boat
skiff
If you do fish a party boat, or a pier try to learn from the top anglers. Watch, learn and ask questions about their techniques.

There are mackerel and surf fishermen on the pier that can out fish the best of us. Both styles are different. Once learned the technique could be used for other species. (e.g., why is the weight above or below the hook, leader length, hook styles, amount of weight, stiff or flexible rods)
 
  • Like
Reactions: robaire

NukeDawg

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 27, 2008
282
239
San Diego, CA
Name
dub-dub-dub
Boat
17' Arima Sea Angler
I am the last that should be offering advice on how to catch fish, but here are some thoughts:
1. There are lots of "spots" besides the well known ones. The well known ones may be most prominent, but they tend to get the most pressure. Also, the most prominent spots tend to be the largest (for example, Tanner bank is huge), so there are spots within spots.

2. IMO (and this is probably dead bang wrong), most of the time, even when fishing structure, it is a mistake for private boaters to anchor. It is easy enough to drift and resposition, and if you are on a spot with no fish, you save the hassle of setting and pulling the anchor. That said, if you are on fish, or if you are confident that fish will come through, and especially if you can chum, then anchor.

3. Lots of really great fishermen never develop the skill of finding fish because they fish party boats and the captain does that for them. Bringing one of those guys with you won't help with the first half of the equation.

4. The best way to get good is to focus on a species and area and perfect that. Don't do like me and fish for everything everywhere.
thanks for the thoughts. i think your #3 is right on. i've mostly fished the sd fleet and have been spoiled by how well they find fish. doing it on my own now is actually most of the reason i bought a boat. doing it easily and consistently i'm finding to be a whole 'nother story.
 

NukeDawg

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 27, 2008
282
239
San Diego, CA
Name
dub-dub-dub
Boat
17' Arima Sea Angler
Adam, if your boat is the 13-footer you list in your header, and you are fishing with a young son, then I strongly urge you to concentrate on the many fish that are available to you inside the bay rather than going outside to Point Loma. Just one unexpected wave coming from a ship a mile away can ruin your day. If you do go outside, keep your head on a swivel like you are a fighter pilot in enemy airspace.
If you are fishing in only a handful of fathoms of water, the most important thing is not Where you are fishing, but When you are fishing. The tides are critical, because inshore they provide current to the water, and most of the fish that you will catch are ambush predators who are facing into the current and watching for something possibly edible to swim by within a few feet so that they can pounce and quickly retreat before something even bigger eats THEM. The "numbers" are all about structure, and will get you over a potential fish ambush point, but your boat may be drifting or anchored and pushed by the wind, but the water current below can be a very different direction.
The biggest single change that I see new people make that improves their experience is trusting in lighter tackle. You will get a lot more bites, and still land 90% of those bites, if you drop down in size of line, hooks, weight, etc. There was a time when most of us used Jigmaster 500 reels with 20# line because we thought that was what we needed. Now we're using reels and line just half that size, and getting a lot more fish.
thanks surfgoose. i'm a fanatic about safety, but always appreciate the reinforced message.

can you expand on the current direction? so does the inshore current always mirror the tide direction, i.e. low tide will always cause current away from shore? if so would it be right to think that since most times wind is blowing from offshore that high tide would be ideal drift time as the bait would be "dragged" with current allowing for easy meals for the fish facing the current? or is that way to simple?

i've mostly been fishing 6' light rods and 12-15 lb line. what are you having success with?
 

NukeDawg

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 27, 2008
282
239
San Diego, CA
Name
dub-dub-dub
Boat
17' Arima Sea Angler
Navionics phone app & Google Earth for bathymetry

Look for Structure and/or transition areas (clean/dirty, sand/rock, warm/cold, kelp/no kelp, shallow/deep)

Buy some books based on your fishing interests (bass, WSB, lobsta)

Tailor your bait to your quarry.
i have been using the navionics app primarily. what do use google earth bathymetry for?
 

FishinMcNuggets

I've edited enough I should section this post.
Oct 25, 2010
1,117
744
Hermosa Beach, CA
Name
Mike
Boat
Avon 2.85 "C-¢"
Navionics, do you have the paid or the free version? The paid version with the "sonarcharts" shows inshore regions bathymetry in 1 foot increments. The free version does not. Google earth gives you a more "visual" representation of the same. I've seen a guy that lines up on his sheephead reefs off of google earth.

I forgot a thing or two.

Surface visuals will help you find fish. Birds & bait pushing. Lobster pots. Warning bouys, too (shallow reef, submerged rocks).

Stay flexible with your gameplan. Go out with open mind. You may want tails but stumble into an awesome bass bite. You may want halibut but get batrays. Want seabass, and get black seabass. It's more adventure than "one stop shopping" for first time captains.

Likewise, have a a few fallback plans. If one doesn't work, go to the next. Make sure all your plans are seasonally applicable.

Rope in a couple off season deckhands as boat hoes if you want to shorten your learning curve.
 
Last edited:

surfgoose

active geezer
Jul 29, 2010
2,946
4,399
Long Beach, CA, USA
Name
Gary
Boat
whichever has the longest bunk
Your tackle is fine for the most common situations. Bass in structure need heavier gear, but otherwise you are going to be ok. The current, if it is present like you hope, can be moving in any direction, but usually is either slightly up or down the coastline, not directly offshore. Look for the kelp strands, or watch an anchored boat and see how the fishing lines are being pulled into the water.

You will have the most water movement in the middle of the tides, and slack water in the hour around the high or low of the tide. I don't know how old your son is, if he is pre-teenage then you want to go for action rather than finesse fishing, so I suggest that you concentrate on bonito and barries by using 1/2 oz. to 1 oz. shiny lures. If you bleed them and put them on ice they are very good eating.

If you want to try for halibut, slow drifts or very slow trolling in sandy areas just off of structure points will work. Remember if you are using bait that halibut mostly bite the middle/back of prey and crush them for a moment before turning them to swallow, so don't be in a hurry to set the hook. They don't gulp like bass and bonito and yellowtail do.
 

NukeDawg

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 27, 2008
282
239
San Diego, CA
Name
dub-dub-dub
Boat
17' Arima Sea Angler
Navionics, do you have the paid or the free version? The paid version with the "sonarcharts" shows inshore regions bathymetry in 1 foot increments. The free version does not. Google earth gives you a more "visual" representation of the same. I've seen a guy that lines up on his sheephead reefs off of google earth.

I forgot a thing or two.

Surface visuals will help you find fish. Birds & bait pushing. Lobster pots. Warning bouys, too (shallow reef, submerged rocks).

Stay flexible with your gameplan. Go out with open mind. You may want tails but stumble into an awesome bass bite. You may want halibut but get batrays. Want seabass, and get black seabass. It's more adventure than "one stop shopping" for first time captains.

Likewise, have a a few fallback plans. If one doesn't work, go to the next. Make sure all your plans are seasonally applicable.

Rope in a couple off season deckhands as boat hoes if you want to shorten your learning curve.
i used the paid app. that app and my fish finder is all the electronics i have. i feel like i have a bunch to learn with both of them.

great insight. thank you.