It’s been another week of great So Cal fishing across the Bight. From full speed seabass up north to steady island yellowtail fishing, bass biting along the coast, and a mix of tuna being caught below the border, it’s summer fishing at its finest. But before I get into the details of this week’s action, I’d like to take a moment to share some thoughts on fishing around the summer crowds.
I made the run to Catalina Island on Saturday to fish bass and hopefully run into some yellows. While my trip was successful in catching plenty of bass and hooking and losing a yellowtail, what I saw at the island that day made me question the thought process of a huge section of the private boating population. It was a weekend of nice weather following a week of decent yellowtail fishing at the island I figured it would be fairly crowded and it was.
We had very little interaction with the So Cal fishing crowds due to the fact that we spent most of our time fishing in less than 15-feet of water, but in my travels from the east end to Salta Verde and back I saw at least 100 to 200 boats fishing in different areas, usually bunched up around sport boats. As I drove past these gang bangs, I couldn’t help but notice just how incorrectly almost every one of the boats was fishing. Some were bunched up in areas without even a hint of conditions, others were anchored so close to one another that I can’t imagine that they weren’t snagging each other’s anchor lines. There were also boats anchored in a complete circle around a kelp bed, some even anchored below the down-current edge of the bed.
I don’t want to point fingers because I understand that not every So Cal fishing boater is an experienced angler, but if you’re reading this and if being in any of these scenarios sound familiar to you I will say, “Stop it” not only do you not need to fish around other boats to catch fish, the more boats that are in the gang bang you’re a part of, the less chance you’ll have of catching any fish. There’s enough information available on this website and others that you should be able to research any questions you have about finding your own fish. If you want to learn how to find yellows, you can also watch my Navionics Webinar on the subject. In fact, if you google my name followed by the species you want to target (Erik Landesfeind yellowtail), for example, you’ll find plenty of instructional articles and videos.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because I feel bad for everyone involved with these So Cal fishing gang bangs. I feel for the guys who are trying to fish right and get mobbed when they are lucky enough to hook a fish. But more importantly, I feel for the guys who think that the only way to catch fish is to follow around other boats. I can’t imagine how depressing that must get after a couple of unsuccessful trips. Whatever the case, if you’re new to the fishery research the heck out of it before heading out on the water, you’ll have a lot more fun and might even catch something.
Now that I’ve got my rant out of the way, let’s take a look at the Navionics Chart to see what’s biting. As I mentioned, the seabass bite was wide open this week at Santa Rosa Island with boats scoring easy three-fish limits on most trips. These fish are mostly school-sized, but there are some bigger ones in the mix and are being caught on live squid. The fish are also biting at Santa Cruz Island but they’re keyed in on red crabs so they are biting the tube baits, swimbaits, and surface iron better than they are biting the squid. This So Cal fishing zone isn’t responding well to boat pressure so if you go there and find a crowd, keep driving, there are fish scattered all over the backside of the island, so go find some you can have to yourself.
The yellowtail are still biting at Catalina and San Clemente Islands but the bite isn’t wide open and live squid is definitely the hot ticket. Getting back to my Catalina trip, there are yellowtail scattered all over the island and if you can find an area with conditions and without other boats you’ll likely find the yellowtail. We were fishing calicos along the front side of the island Saturday when a couple of yellowtails came up boiling. Threw the surface iron for a couple of followers then gave up and went back to bass fishing. It was then that Jimmy Decker had a good-sized yellow eat his Lucky Craft DD100 hard bait which resulted in a somewhat lopsided battle that ended with the fish breaking him off in the kelp.
I fished the coast three days this last week and had good So Cal fishing on both sand bass and calicos. If you want to fish calicos I’d advise doing it in the afternoon if the wind cooperates as the bite has been much better. The fish at PV are in full pre-spawn mode and are grouped up along the outer edges of the kelp beds making for some fun weedless and hardbait fishing.
Finally, the bluefin, yellowfin and yellowtail continue to bite for boats fishing out of San Diego. With fish scattered from just below the border to San Quintin, I’d imagine that the bite should improve as we go into next week’s new moon. There hasn’t been a whole lot seen or caught in US waters yet but Decker and I might make a run out of Newport on Saturday morning to take a look. Good luck wherever you fish this weekend and do yourself a favor by driving away from any gang bangs you see.