Rockfish Tips | Rockfish Fishing Techniques
I’m heading up to Santa Barbara this weekend. I’ve only fished up there a few times ever and only once was on a boat. I’ve heard good things though about the operation at SEA Landing, so I’m excited to ride with them. I posted on the So Cal Salties Facebook page that I would be riding the Stardust on Sunday and one person commented that they might have forgotten how to rockfish because they hadn’t all year.
It’s been that kind of a year this year. There was a trip last year on the Pacific Islander. During the week, I had fished offshore (ahh those were the days). I’d been focused on fishing offshore most of the season (like this year). I thought to myself, “It’s just rockfishing” and didn’t give it much thought. No big deal, right? Always respect your adversary. It took me a couple of futile drifts before I gave in, stripped down my setup and re-rigged specifically to rockfish.
Here are some tips to get you up to speed from the very first drift.
Braid vs. Mono
You want to fish mostly braid when rockfishing. Most of my reels have braid (aka spectra) backing and then I topshot with mono or fluoro as needed. I like fishing mono when flylining a bait or throwing a surface iron. Braid has certain qualities though that lend themselves particularly well to successful rockfishing.
For one thing, braid has almost no stretch. We’re going to need every foot of our 60-fathom depth limit (360-feet) this year. Rockfish like cooler water. With the higher water temps brought by El Nino, the best rockfishing will be at the max depths. The deeper you go, the bigger advantage braid will offer. When you use braid, you will have a better feel for what is happening at the business end of the line. You’ll know when you get bit faster. Actions you take at the top of the line, translate faster to the bottom of the line because of the lack of stretch.
Also, if you like fishing jigs, braid will allow you to get down more effectively with less weight than with mono. When you use a lighter jig, it has better fishing action. When you get it down into the zone, that additional flutter gets bit better.
I definitely prefer to use circle hooks for this application.
It’s just harder for a fish to shake itself off when it’s hooked on a circle. When you have to wind it through all that water, a circle certainly helps to insure the fish will make it into your sack.
I also like to use a lighter gauge of hook like the one on the right of the picture. I feel like it gets bit better than the bigger XXX strength tuna hook that is pictured on the left. If you are using live bait, circles help make sure that your bait stays on the hook on its way down to the bottom.
Other Small Details
You don’t want to set the hook when rockfishing. I see so many people do the big hookset, and then proceed to pull up and wind down. Don’t! The best way to ensure that what gets hooked at the bottom of your line, makes it into your sack is a slow, steady retrieve.
Also, when you attach your hooks onto the loop, always push the loop through the eye of the hook from the hook side (left to right for the hooks pictured above). Doing so will make your hook sit at the correct angle for a better hook ratio.
Most of the boats are transitioning to include rockfishing into their trips.
Hopefully these tips will help boost your take home.
Good luck out there this weekend.