It seems like every time I’ve sat down to write my column in the last month, we’ve been in the middle of a weather event that would likely effect the fishing; and this week is no different. Looking out of my office window on this Tuesday morning, I see grey skies, rain and a freshening breeze. The NOAA forecast says that the wind will continue to blow the next couple days and only stop long enough for some rain on Christmas before blowing again on Saturday morning. So rather than focus on where to fish this weekend, I’d like to take a higher level look at what’s going on in our local waters.
There are three things of interest that happened over the weekend. The first of those is that a new batch of yellowtail moved into the rockfish grounds in Long Beach. While the yellows have been biting there off and on for the last 15 months, these fish are significant because for the last month it seemed as though the bite was finally tapering off.
I spoke with Captain Ryan Parker of the Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing and he said that the fish had actually started moving in early last week, but didn’t really bite well until the weekend.
He reported marking large schools of fish and was very excited about the prospect of this being the start of another year of good yellowtail fishing in the area. I’m not sure if this is going to become the new normal, but I really hope it does.
I went out and fished the yellows on Sunday morning with Matt Kotch and Gerry Mahieu. There was a ton of red crab all over the Horseshoe Kelp and the rockfish grounds, but the fish were holding in a pretty small area. We were strictly fishing the surface iron and had a few shots at boiling fish, but Matt caught our only one. A few private boats got fish drifting with live bait, but the sport boats had a distinct advantage. The fish were in tight schools that were almost impossible to find without a sonar and if you did find them, you needed some serious chum to get them to come up and bite. Captain Aaron Graham aboard the Monte Carlo out of 22nd Street Landing was the highliner for the day with 39 fish on his morning half day trip.
Another interesting development is that squid is starting to show up along the coast. Boats in the Santa Monica Bay used that squid to catch some quality fish. The Redondo Special out of Redondo Sportfishing got several quality yellows and a 52-pound white seabass on Sunday morning’s trip. Not everyone got into the exotics, but the rockfish definitely wanted the squid as well. My friend Bobby Martinez fished out of Marina Del Rey on Sunday and caught limits of big reds on the bait he’d made. It’s impossible to predict if the squid will stick around for a while, but if it does it could make for some incredible winter yellowtail fishing in coming weeks.
Finally, while the offshore season is over, there are still some pelagic species hanging around. My friend Brandon Vulgamott found and baited a striped marlin while on his way to Catalina on Monday morning. With water temps around 63 to 64 degrees on some of the outer banks (before the latest storm anyway) there might be a shot at a New Years Day tuna if the weather will give guys a chance to get out and look.