At the time of this writing (Wednesday morning), there’s a weather system rolling through Southern California. Along with it bringing scattered showers, the National Weather Service is calling for winds as high as 20 knots in the coastal waters today and tomorrow. While the weather is expected to come down by the weekend, it’s anyone’s guess as to what effect the wind will have on water temps and the post storm fishing. So while I wouldn’t automatically assume any of these fish will still be biting by the weekend, here’s what was happening before the storm.
The Channel Islands continue to produce good rockfishing for boats fishing the west end of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. Both of these locations are quite a haul from Oxnard so you’re going to want to jump on a full day or overnight trip to maximize your fishing time. CISCO‘s has trips scheduled all weekend, but I would definitely check the weather before booking a trip.
The sport boats fishing the Santa Monica Bay are still focusing on deep-water rockfish, but private boaters are catching bass as well as shallow water rockfish. BD member Vince has been hammering the bass and rockfish in the bay fishing Krocodile spoons the last few weeks. It may seem like a strange way to catch bass, but his continued success proves that he might be on to something.
The kelp along Palos Verdes hasn’t been getting a ton of pressure from private boaters, but those willing to put in the time have been scoring some fish. John Curry fished PV on Saturday morning and caught a dozen bass on MC Weedless Swimbaits fished along what little kelp is still there after the last big storm.
Speaking of calicos, both Catalina and San Clemente Islands continue to produce good scores of bass if you go on the right day. I fished Catalina on Saturday with my friends Julia and Randy. Our original plan was to run up and fish the backside west end of the island, but the swell and wind were enough to make me bend it down to the east end instead. We started under the light and worked as far as Salta Verde for decent bass fishing on the Gulp! Jerk Shads in the kelp and late in the day we even got a few fish to come up and bite the weedless.
The weather at the island laid down for Ed Smith and Shea McIntee on Sunday morning and they were able to make the run to the west end. There they were rewarded with several big fish; including a nine pounder that Ed caught on the surface iron.
While the bass were biting at the island on Sunday, I was stuck on the coast fishing rockfish with a couple of buddies who’d been asking to go. Fishing was slow and the overall size wasn’t great but we managed enough for a few rounds of fish tacos. Our slow fishing was most likely due to us not having good bait. Since the trip came together at the last minute, Matt just picked up some squid from an Asian market near his house. While the squid looked good frozen, it started turning pink the minute it defrosted and the fish wanted nothing to do with it. So, if you’re planning a cod trip definitely take the time to swing by a tackle shop and buy some San Pedro Bait Company frozen squid. I’ve used it several times in the past and its way better quality than the other stuff you see out there.
Sport boat fishermen looking to go rockfishing should avoid the half and three quarter day trips if at all possible and jump on an overnight trip. The two best options are the El Dorado, which is running San Nicholas Island trips out of Long Beach Sportfishing or the Thunderbird, which is targeting San Clemente Island out of Davies Locker. Both of these boats have been on the fish and are running regularly. The difference between the two trips is that you’ll be fishing shallower water at San Nick, but you’ll be paying for that with a longer boat ride and you won’t have the same shot at a yellowtail that you get at San Clemente (even if it’s a long shot right now).
The Coronado Islands are still the only game in town for yellowtail, but the fishing remains inconsistent at best.
One day the fish will pop, like they did for the San Diego yesterday who ended up with 34 fish for 19 people, and there won’t be a fish caught the next. I’m not exactly sure why the fish are biting so sporadically, but I do know that the yo-yo jig is producing the most fish on the slow days. Chris Monroy fished on the San Diego on Tuesday and scored a couple nice fish on the Kicker Jigs 25 Heavy. On the days the fish do bite well, they’ll also eat the surface iron, so always bring that along if you’re heading down.
The slow days for the sport boats don’t always translate into slow days for private boaters. Duane Mellor of Season Sportfishing ran a two-day trip and put his clients on fish both days, despite the fishing being extremely slow for most boats fishing the islands. I’ve fished with Duane and interviewed him more than a few times, so I can tell you without even asking him. He got those fish by getting away from the fleet, finding small areas with conditions and then adjusting his presentations until finding the one that worked. After that it was simply a matter of recreating that scenario once the fish he was on stopped biting.