Tips locating Rockfish

Rikitiki87

Newbie
Aug 3, 2019
11
1
32
Garden grove
Name
Enrique
Boat
20” Center console
Taking the boat out for the first time out of Sunset Harbor(Huntington harbor). Does anyone have any tips or productive areas to scout in.
 
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Halibut Howie

Member Since 2003
May 22, 2003
953
617
San Diego
Name
Halibut Howie
Boat
1987 Cabo 216/F150 "Have Boat Will Travel"
When fishing for rockfish in an unknown area I look at the depth charts and contours. I look for areas where the contour depth lines are close together meaning a sharper drop-off. From there I look for rockpiles in the area and/or hanging fish. Dropdown and drift the area marking bites along the way.


Finding your own rockfish holes is half the fun of this type of fishing. It's fishing not catching.
HH
 

jiminoc

I've posted enough I should edit this section
May 5, 2005
1,033
88
45
Trabuco Canyon
Name
Jim
Boat
boat-less but looking
@Halibut Howie I just started getting into the rockfish game and came across this on my sounder in the zone I was expecting to find some critters. This look like what you'd expect for a rockfish school? or does this look like something else? I dropped a rig on em but no luck getting anything up.

 
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rancanfish

wow, how deep is it here?
Jul 5, 2004
541
247
Dublin, CA
Name
Harold Head
Boat
1971 BW Menemsha
I'm in NorCal so don't know your area, but I wouldn't even stop if the bottom looked like that. Rockies and lings stick to structure up here (usually). Find some rock piles or pinnacles and you're gold. Drop anything and get bit pretty much....
 
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Ali

Master of Nothing
Admin
Apr 24, 2003
22,544
6,938
9
San Diego
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That Guy
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31' Innovator
Second Area jim. The first spot to looks like soft bottom.

A BIG tip I'll give you guys. Don't fish the spots that have the huge clouds on them. This is small baitfish and junk. If the bigger cod are on it, they have plenty to eat. Look for arches close to the bottom with a little bait around. That's where you'll find the bigger cod.

Anything from 200'-400' with hard bottom on our coast will hold cod. work those areas and make waypoints on any bottom relief (rocks, ledges, holes). Once you have a collection of spots, bounce around until you find one that's holding better fish and/or biting.

After a couple of seasons of this you'll have more spots than you know what to do with and you'll be able to product big boxes full of quality fish year round.
 

jiminoc

I've posted enough I should edit this section
May 5, 2005
1,033
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45
Trabuco Canyon
Name
Jim
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boat-less but looking
Awesome, thanks Ali. Still trying to get the new boat dialed in and so far I'm 0-5 on my rockfish trips. Learning a little more each time, gonna try again this week. Watched every video, read every article I could get my hands on but having a tough time on the water actually identifying rock piles, ledges in the real world on my gear.
 
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fly liner

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2009
2,077
1,147
hemet ca USA
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Josh
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21' crystaliner /15' prowler
Both of the areas shown. I would have dropped down a Mac on a reverse dropper loop. You are on the right track keep looking for areas similar to those. In my opinion It's not always about structure, drifting over hard bottom can be very effective. Jigs don't always produce. Try dragging bait. Either live fin bait, strip fin bait or squid. Sometimes they only want one or the other, other times they will eat anything in front of them. Bigger bait result in bigger fish. Don't be afraid to drop a 12" Mac.
 

Steveo77

Steveo77
Apr 22, 2012
1,091
991
Rancho Cucamonga CA
Name
Steve
Boat
Grumpy
Drop on what looks good. If you pick up a little guy, try another spot. Sometimes I’ve got big reds when I drifted off the structure.
Once your on the spot that produced, zoom in on your GPS and reset your drift when it’s time. Sometimes the wind shifts and you have to watch which way your drift is and adjust.
Good luck and look up sone charts for local spots. That’ll give you a good starting point.
 
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bazzturd

I fish in the ocean, not the internet
Aug 7, 2008
372
599
Westminster, CA
Name
Brian
Boat
Gwendolyn
I sort of disagree with Ali. I have had amazing success dropping on massive bait schools. I will typically drop larger baits with lager hooks making it hard for the squirts to get hooked. It isn't worth spending a lot of time on, but definitely worth a look. I also make sure those get my fresh frozen whole squid drops because that different more desirable bait can get you hammered some times. I wouldn't mark those big bait schools though as they can just be migratory starfish or crab spawns never to cross the same way points again. Definitely mark those pronounced structure spots as he mentioned and definitely drop on them. Those spots are worth a little more time investment as they might be more likely to be your annual producer as he mentioned.
 
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Tail Chaser

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Aug 31, 2004
1,226
1,774
Claremont
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Ryan
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Hobie Outback
Change your settings so you can see the second echo... this helps you determine what kind of bottom you have... big help when looking for red fish.
 

luckyjohn

Well-Known "Member"
Jun 1, 2015
53
195
58
Name
john r westersten
Boat
Get Reel Pursuit 3000
once you find your spot, make sure you are fishing it. you need to account for the drift. even if you start in the same place, you may drift differently if your is boat is facing a different direction, or still slighting moving under power.

knowing how to set your boat up current or up wind in order to drift over where you want to go, is almost as important as finding the fish. So make sure you actually see the spot when your lines are in the water before you give up on a spot.

i spend more time looking than fishing when i am in new areas. Trusting the equipment is the key.
 

lonelydriver

Member
Oct 9, 2007
26
25
Pasadena
Name
Kevin
Boat
Skipjack 24 Flybridge
Thanks for sharing guys, learning a lot. I have the main rock fish spots that most people know of marked(i'm assuming these get hit up a lot so i want to find my own), but when looking for new not well known spots is there certain areas I should look for? for example certain depths, certain areas that work or don't like the horse shoe area? do you just putt around at low speeds looking for structure? not asking for spots, but just some general ideas areas i can go find my own rocks would be appreciated!

One tip i learned is if you're catching lots of sand dabs, it's probably soft bottom!
 

4L2NA

Well-Known "Member"
Apr 14, 2012
92
55
Newbury Park, CA
Name
Larry
Boat
25' Davis RHLC, D4, FinAddict
If you have a split screen bottom zoom, that can be helpful. You want a hard bottom preferably with a lot of peaks and drop-offs. As mentioned above, an area where the contour lines are close together could be a place to check out. You may not always see huge clouds of fish/boomerangs (and as Ali said, sometimes it's junk, not always though), but what is important is finding the right type of structure, then figure out what they are feeding on. Fish don't always show, because they often hang in the rock or underledges, we see this all the time diving. Cool thing about rock fishing is finding out what they won't eat... lol,
bring some frozen squid to tip your jigs. Many times strips of squid work better than a whole squid on your lure. Good luck out there, I'm sure you're going to have a blast.
 
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MattFred1414

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 3, 2020
205
442
26
San Diego
Name
Matt
Boat
17ft Pro Steelheader
Idk where sunset harbor is but I am new to rock fishing as well. (In Southern California). I have my best luck outside of the kelp beds (San Diego) in 60-120ft. Sometime I drift and sometimes I anchor. But I look for any sudden changes and depth and any rocks or structure. I stay on a spot for about ten minutes and if I dont get any bites then I’ll move. I also find that when you drift you’ll catch fish in the same depth of water so I tend to anchor around that depth. I’ve also got into a bunch of fish when the bottom shows nothing. I haven’t had stellar days rockfishing here but I’ve had all four of us limit out before.
 

Fat Daddy

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Sep 27, 2004
194
80
Corona
Name
Andy
Boat
Parker 2520 DVSC Diesel
Nine miles outside of the harbor entrance out by the double rigs is the Southeast bank. There will be a boat or ten on it during the morning. Gets pummeled but use it to learn what to look for structure wise then go off on your own.
 

KID CREOLE

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Sep 19, 2003
3,389
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San Pedro, Ca.
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Name
Stefan
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Mako 224 CC, FULL RACK
As Ali said above, I stay away from big structure and big groups of fish

I focus on hard bottom. I run my Furuno on split screen, bottom zoom. The good cods look like scattered marks close to the bottom
175 ft of water most of the day last Saturday


20200509_160657.jpg
20200509_090135.jpg
 

jiminoc

I've posted enough I should edit this section
May 5, 2005
1,033
88
45
Trabuco Canyon
Name
Jim
Boat
boat-less but looking
great info here, thanks guys. @marzocchi I came across these marks that look similar to yours I think. Is this the kind of thing you're talking about?
nice haul of reds by the way!!! epic.



 
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marzocchi

Captain Seasick
Nov 15, 2006
599
156
Lost at Sea
Name
Dat
Boat
Aww Shucks
great info here, thanks guys. @marzocchi I came across these marks that look similar to yours I think. Is this the kind of thing you're talking about?
nice haul of reds by the way!!! epic.
Does look like scattered rockfish. But I prefer long green lines more bunched up. This tells you that they are the schooling sunset rockfish. This could mean a difference between hours of fishing or done in 30 minutes.

The vermillions with the black spots on their backs are now classified as the new species called sunsets. The ones you see in my picture. They are usually on the shelf or deeper hard bottom. The vermillions are the all red ones now. Usually on the shallower side and on structure. Both delicious nonetheless.

All those rockfish in my picture is from the shelf near the oil rigs in Long Beach.

Good luck this weekend. You might see me out there.
 
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castone001

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jun 3, 2013
258
78
Murrieta
Name
Chris Stone
Boat
Dos Viejos
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gettingbentwithbo

Get Bent!
Mar 7, 2009
2,190
985
Riverside
gettingbentwithbo.com
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Bo
Boat
14' Starcraft SF SS
Great information from everyone! Thanks for sharing!