Some free floating kelp questions . . . I know, I'm high maintenance!!

PENN

phud

East Coaster - Learning Left Coast
Feb 11, 2015
69
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Embarcadero Marina, Dana Point
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Paul Hudrick
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23 Walkaround
Decided to head out of Dana Point on Sunday morning and try my luck at some yellowtail and bluefin. Since this was my first time, I had no idea where to head but west and then south. Once I got a couple miles decided to troll some feathers and a rapala while I looked for kelp. Got skunked, but this experience also brought up a lot of questions - as usual, I'm counting on you guys for some guidance.

Wasn't sure what I was looking for re kelp. There were a bunch of "smaller" kelp paddies - maybe the size of a door. Is this what I'm looking for?

When approaching the kelp, how should I proceed. Do I stay a certain distance from the paddy; do I start out flylining or go right to throwing metal; is there anything specific I should be looking for?

Saw a few instance of many "sitting" birds - are fish sometimes found below these flocks or do I want to concentrate on working birds.

When approaching a spot with working birds what is the proper approach? Do I try to get close to the birds and then give it a shot, or should I get close to being on top of them?

As a general rule, I'm not a "herd" fisherman. I've always taken a lot of pride in finding my own fish. I hear all of this talk about the 150, would I be better served to just try to track these down myself as opposed to following the reports?

Any and all help is appreciated.
 
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LACSAFD

Captain
Apr 30, 2006
236
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LEWIS
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Parker 2520
Hey bud,
I will attempt to answer a few for you.
When you spot a kelp its best to slowly approach. Maybe even troll around a few times. Birds on kelp are a great sign. Think of it as a ecco system, Kelps provide shelter. Small fish like shelter, and Big fish like small fish. blah blah.. I have soaked bait on kelps for 5 seconds and been hit or had to wait quit a while. The fish could be anywhere near it, or nowhere to be seen. Try every kelp be patient. Some could turn into the most amazing bites of great pelagic species. But never land right on top. Always be courteous of someone who beat you to it. Keep a distance and perhaps get waved in.
These are just my thoughts..
Disclaimer - I am no pro, but like to fish just like the next guy, and this seems to work for us.
good luck tight lines God Bless - Lew
 
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TravisT

Member
Jun 14, 2009
676
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Laguna Niguel / Vallejo for school
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Travis Tompkins
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19' Baja Bayrunner
A good amount of our local/island kelp died off last summer from warm water and big south swells. Luckily, we still have some on the coast and the Channel Islands will also provide for us. Paddies don't always move in the same direction, as they get stuck in eddies and can move in a circular motion, uphill/downhill, wherever. Sometimes, they even get stuck under the surface and spotter planes have seen them down 10-20' or deeper. I think in the next few months any size kelp or debris can and will hold fish. I've caught and seen fish caught under something as small as a leaf. Structure is structure and listen to LACSAFD about the etiquette. We all had to start somewhere. Good luck.
 
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mullet

Metal Fabricator
Jan 10, 2006
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Brookings Oregon
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mike
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19"Gregor
It doesn't have to be kelp.We've been bit on cardboard boxes,2+4s,deckboards anything out in the middle of nowhere is structure and worth investigating.
 
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dploc

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Jul 14, 2007
291
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dp
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chris
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Amberjack
Approach slowly setup so the wind will drift you close enough to cast but not over the top of the paddy. I like to throw a few baits to get the fish going. If you don't get hit right away be patient expecially if there are other boats fishing the paddy. When there's pressure alot of times the fish will bite a few hundred yards off the paddy. When your searching also look for temp breaks ( will look like oil slick of water you can basically follow along. Breaks will sometimes lead you to a nice holding paddy. Keep in mind that when you hook a yellowtail on a paddy it will surely try to wrap you in the paddy. So try to stop him before he does so. GOOD LUCK!!!
 
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FishMoreNow

Almost A Member
Jul 28, 2009
190
11
Grass Valley, CA USA
Name
Tom Oates
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21.5 Maxum - Temptress
Any kelp can hold fish no matter how small. With the interesting fishing reports we have been reading, I would not pass any debris without giving it a shot. Dorado are crazy about holding to anything in the water. Wooden pallets, floating Christmas trees, etc. approach cautiously and pitch a live bait near the floating debris.
 
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jeffdalton

"Well Known" Member
Aug 16, 2005
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Jeff Dalton
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21' Parker/Stealth Stix
I've caught fish on the smallest of kelps and the largest. If we know the paddy is holding and we are not getting bit, we will slow troll around and that often works when nothing else will. As far as fishing the birds is concerned, focus on diving terns. If you see boils and crashing fish I would monitor the birds to see which direction they are going and do your best to quietly motor your boat well out in front and shut down the engines. With any luck you will have intercepted the fish they will swim right toward your offerings. Last season slow trolling a sardine worked wonders early in the season when the fish were just arriving and settling in. As the season progressed and the fish settled in, it was much easier to target these fish with more traditional methods. Another gentlemen stated that a hooked yellow will pull you right into the kelp if allowed to do so. If you're going to fish these larger yellows, do yourself a favor and fish nothing less than 25....30 is even better. I would put on some FC as well. Good luck out there!!
 
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Simon Bon Bowery

Lizard Fish Hippie
Feb 18, 2007
10,277
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O'side
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Simon
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Chris Craft 19 cc "LiL Lizard"
When you find a kelp holding with noone around, drop your anchor right dead center in the thing, 10 feet works wonders.. That way, when everyone charges you, you'll have the kelp ALL to yourself.

YES, you can thank me.
 
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Carl

Bridesmaid,,,,,,,Again
  • Nov 29, 2004
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    If you're going to fish a live bait on a kelp approach from down swell quietly and stop off of it a ways 25 yds or more and swing the transom to face the paddy. Now you will drift away from the paddy as your bait swims toward it.

    If you cast a bait towards it from upswell you will drift down on top of your bait and the paddy. If you still manage to hook up you'll probably lose it in the paddy. Drifting away you have a FAR better chance of keeping it out.

    If the yellow is taking you into the paddy stick your rod tip under the water as far as you can reach and you'll usually not lose the fish.

    You can always try the sides, upswell, and slow trolling around the paddy on subsequent drifts if you don't blow it on your initial approach.



    Casting irons it is less important to start down hill and can be preferred to start uphill.

    If you are drifting bow first in a boat with a cabin, through your prop wash, past your bait, towards the paddy you have done everything wrong. This is known as the Billy method.....
     
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    Blackfish

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    Sep 20, 2005
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    Decided to head out of Dana Point on Sunday morning and try my luck at some yellowtail and bluefin. Since this was my first time, I had no idea where to head but west and then south. Once I got a couple miles decided to troll some feathers and a rapala while I looked for kelp. Got skunked, but this experience also brought up a lot of questions - as usual, I'm counting on you guys for some guidance.

    Wasn't sure what I was looking for re kelp. There were a bunch of "smaller" kelp paddies - maybe the size of a door. Is this what I'm looking for?
    Yes, this is what your are looking for. Even a stringer (a "branch" of kelp) can be holding fish. ANything that has been floating in the water, can be holding. I once landed fish off a palm branch. If you see log, or debris...and the conditions are right, it might be worth a look.

    When approaching the kelp, how should I proceed. Do I stay a certain distance from the paddy; do I start out flylining or go right to throwing metal; is there anything specific I should be looking for?

    Approach slow, and up current. So that you drift back, toward the paddy. Try and set your boat up so that it drifts by the paddy, but not on the paddy. I like to try and stayy about 50-75 yards. Yes, i have f'ed up, and drifted to close or even into the paddy. This is not a big deal if you have th paddy to your slef, but if you are sharing it, get ready to be bitched at, or have your balls busted. LOL FImagine the kepl baddy as a hding place for the bait fish. Often, the game fish are not under the paddy, but patroling it, and looking for that dumb bait fish that eft the shelter of the paddy. So game fish could under it, or even several hundred yards past outside the kelp.
    I like to try and set up about 100 yards up current, and drift about 100, 200 yards past it. If I don;t get bit, I will try and get a little closer...but remember, your bait is going to see the kelp, and hopefully swim toward the paddy, trying to find shelter, so you really never have to be right on the paddy....and the game fish are patrolling the paddy, and the surrounding area.
    I like to toss live bait forst, and fi I strik out I will go to jigs. If that strikes out, I will go to a slow troll of a die or mac. If that doesn;t work, I will drop deep with a jig.
    Look for marks on your finder, pudling or boiling fish, or bait boils.


    Saw a few instance of many "sitting" birds - are fish sometimes found below these flocks or do I want to concentrate on working birds.
    Birds sitting on a paddy s a good sign that there is life on the paddy. Always stop on a pady with birds. Diving birds, terns, seaguls, are a for sure sign that there is at least bait..and most likely, game fish....but make sue you approach slow, and up current, and drift into it.

    When approaching a spot with working birds what is the proper approach? Do I try to get close to the birds and then give it a shot, or should I get close to being on top of them?

    Approach up current, and drift into the birds.....toss your bait when you are close enough. Toss some chum too....never drive right into a crashing birds. you will only push the fish down. ALWAYS drift into the birds. Same with boing bait or fish.

    As a general rule, I'm not a "herd" fisherman. I've always taken a lot of pride in finding my own fish. I hear all of this talk about the 150, would I be better served to just try to track these down myself as opposed to following the reports?

    Finding yor own fish is much more rewarding. If you can avoid it, or have time to explore, don't fish boats, fish conditions, current, temps, chlorophyl, and you will find your own fish....if you find a paddy with a boat on it...it is considered to be proper paddy etiquette to at least try and hale the the boat, and ask if they mind if you slip in...or weight and see if they will wave you in. If they wave you in, approach slow, up current, and on the opposite side. When you reset, always motor slow and way outside of the paddy, back to the top.

    ALso, if you come across porpoise, stay on the outsode, and motor way up infront of the pod, and staying inf front of the pod,. SHut down, and toss bait.....as the pod swims by, often Tuna will under the pod....don't cut across the pod..this just divides the pod, and pushed the fish down. If you don;t get bit, again, go to the outside, and motor back to the front.....


    Any and all help is appreciated.

    AND Hats off for asking.
     
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    Blackfish

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    If you're going to fish a live bait on a kelp approach from down swell quietly and stop off of it a ways 25 yds or more and swing the transom to face the paddy. Now you will drift away from the paddy as your bait swims toward it.

    If you cast a bait towards it from upswell you will drift down on top of your bait and the paddy. If you still manage to hook up you'll probably lose it in the paddy. Drifting away you have a FAR better chance of keeping it out.

    These are good points Carl. I just like to set up above, and cover more territory. I have messed up my drift, and come to close, or bow forward.....thankfully, I have only done this when no one else is around to take pictures LOL, and I only screw myself. HAHA

    If the yellow is taking you into the paddy stick your rod tip under the water as far as you can reach and you'll usually not lose the fish.

    You can always try the sides, upswell, and slow trolling around the paddy on subsequent drifts if you don't blow it on your initial approach.



    Casting irons it is less important to start down hill and can be preferred to start uphill.

    If you are drifting bow first in a boat with a cabin, through your prop wash, past your bait, towards the paddy you have done everything wrong. This is known as the Billy method.....
     
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    finishright

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    May 17, 2008
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    welcome to the hood take a look at fishdope lots of good info and can give you a area where the fish might be in time on the water will help you lots of good advice here as well
     
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    GOFAST88

    WORKHARD-FISHHARD
    Sep 8, 2012
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    We went out of Dana on Sat. Got one 25# off the domes on a trash can lid size kelp. We hit probably 12 kelps with just bait on them. We set up 100' up current and drifted past. First cast on the little 42g colt sniper from the top deck of the boat haha. Watch the birds too. terns are the best. They will do a little flutter with there heads down looking at water. figure out which direction they are following fish and set up 100 to 300' down and chum.
     
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    Roadrunner

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    Oct 3, 2004
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    You will also find different species different distances from the paddy. Sometimes the tuna will be up to 1/8 mile or so away from the paddy but still circling it. Just hang out way off soaking bait and they swim thru so often. Get close to the paddy and you may pick up more yellowtail. One year it was tuna for those who stayed way off the paddy & if you were patient while the majority of boats went close to paddy and would only get little 1 pound yellowtail.

    Also, drop a bait/jig deep 200 feet or so for stuff hanging deep which it does.

    Learn by asking does work
     
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    jeffdalton

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    Aug 16, 2005
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    You will also find different species different distances from the paddy. Sometimes the tuna will be up to 1/8 mile or so away from the paddy but still circling it. Just hang out way off soaking bait and they swim thru so often. Get close to the paddy and you may pick up more yellowtail. One year it was tuna for those who stayed way off the paddy & if you were patient while the majority of boats went close to paddy and would only get little 1 pound yellowtail.

    Also, drop a bait/jig deep 200 feet or so for stuff hanging deep which it does.

    Learn by asking does work
    This is true! Last season we boated so many tuna, but trip after trip failed to produce a dodo. Finally we found a paddy holding dodos galore and we landed a few, but soon thereafter the tuna took over and every bait that hit the water was a pesky yft. I know it was an awesome problem to have, but it was frustrating. Stupid tuna!!! :D
     
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    polevaults

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    I made this txt to print and take on the boat with us. I looked at this and other posts to make a list of how to act and does while fishing off the Southern California coast.

    How to Fish Off the Southern California Coast

    * When you spot a kelp paddy its best to approach slowly.
    * Throttle down to an idle to figure out which way the drift is going.
    * Always be courteous of someone is already there.
    * Try to get someone's attention, and see if they wave you in.
    * Use your radio and just say, "You guys mind if I slide in?"
    * Drift maybe 100 feet or more off the opposite side of the paddy from way upwind if the paddy is already occupied by another boat.
    * Maybe troll a few hundred yards around a few times if no boats are around.
    * Never land right on top of a kelp paddy.
    * Keep your distance and try to see if anyone is hooked up first.
    * Motor very slowly and quietly up wind of the paddy but not directly upwind.
    * Sometimes pull up down swell of the paddy because bait swim up swell at times.
    * Don't chase radio fish.
    * Fish are all around paddies and at all depths not just under it.
    * Drop some iron down 200 feet or so and YoYo a little.
    * Dodos are off the kelp. They circle the Kelp up to a few hundred yards off it
    * If you see a boat flying a dive flag while on a patty please be extra careful.
    * Fish will bite a few hundred yards off the paddy.
    * Search for temp breaks. Sometimes they lead to nice paddies.
    * Pitch live bait near the floating debris.
    * Look for diving terns. See which direction they are going and do your best to quietly motor your boat well out in front and shut down the engines and chum.
    * Slow troll a sardine early in the season
    * Look for uprisings or structure on the ocean floor.
     

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    jeffdalton

    "Well Known" Member
    Aug 16, 2005
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    All very good advice, but we have called in many boats to a wide open bite...after we were done of course....chasing radio fish can pay off as long as you aren't too far away. I can tell you this much, the boats we called in were pretty damn happy.
     
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