A belated Merry Christmas to all of you and my sincere wishes to each of you for a better new year. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last column and while not much has changed on the fishing front there have been a couple of recent developments.
The good news is that the big bluefin that went MIA over a month ago have been relocated. The bad news, at least for the next two months, is that rockfish is closed from January 1st through March 1st. In other bad news, the powers that be in the CDFW have decided that we’ve been catching too many reds and have slashed their limit from 10 to 5 within a 10 fish total rockfish bag limits. In hopes of offsetting our anger at this travesty, they will be allowing us to fish in waters up to 600-feet (except in the Cowcod Conservation Area).
While rockfish are off the menu for the next few months, you can still go out and catch all of the sand dabs you want. Jimmy Decker and I made a few drops for them after fishing bass at Catalina on Christmas Eve and loaded up. The hot ticket was chunks of Gulp Jerk Shad on a 12 hook gangion. The sand dabs were loaded up on the hard edge of a canyon on the east end of Cat in 350-feet of water. Before they became sand dab bait, the Jerk Shads were getting torn up by calico bass in 1 to 10 feet of water along the backside of the island. The bass at the island have also been biting the crankbait really well and it’s been pretty easy fishing on the 1 to 3-pound bonito on the east end if the sea lions don’t find you.
Most of the boats fishing along the beach have been targeting rockfish lately but the bass bite has been pretty good so there are some options now that rockfish is closed. We fished the Newport Pipe over the weekend and had good fishing for calicos and a few sand bass on crankbaits and Jerk Shads, then went in and fished the beach south of Newport Harbor for some calicos on hardbaits. The giant full moon we’ve had the last couple of nights has put a damper on the bass bite. I fished San Diego Bay on Wednesday and it was by far the worst spotted bay bass fishing I’ve ever had there. The good news is that the moon won’t be a problem for long.
There are some yellowtail biting around San Diego with fish being caught both along the coast and around the Coronado Islands. As has been the case, the local fish are mostly being caught off bird schools and are biting both the surface iron and the yo-yo jig. The yellows around the Coronados are mostly sonar schools so you’re going to want to bring a yo-yo rod if you’re planning a trip down that way. Speaking of yo-yo yellowtail, boats are already putting Colonet trips online that will target yellowtail and rockfish. Last year these trips ended up targeting yellows, rockfish, and bluefin tuna and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that turned out to be the case this year again.
Those missing bluefin that I mentioned earlier were relocated approximately 150-miles south of San Diego and while they’re a little too far down for the 1 1/2-day boats to target, they’ll probably slide back up the line as they’ve done in previous years. The fish caught aboard a 5-day trip aboard the Shogun this week ranged from 100 to 200-pounds. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that these fish continue to bite and start off the new year right!