Rockfish Opener Ventura Sportfishing
If nothing else, the storm that’s forecast to blow through our waters over the weekend is a good reminder of just how favorable the weather has been this winter. It seems like this is only the second or third weekend we’ve missed due to weather since summer, so it might be a good time to catch up on boat work or tackle prep before the next long stretch of good weather. Speaking of which, when things do settle back down, rockfish will once again be open.
If you’re heading out after the March 1st opener, please be aware that as of now, the DFW has not granted us the additional fishing depth that was promised for this season.
So until further notice, the maximum legal fishing depth remains 300-feet. This may change before the supplemental regulations come out in May, but in the meantime don’t get caught fishing over the limit.
Rather than taking a look at what was biting before the storm, I’d like to take a look at some of the rockfish options available in the coming months. Starting in the north, Sea Landing in Santa Barbara is often an overlooked option for rockfish. Sure, it takes a little longer to drive there, but that extra time on the road can cut way down on the boat ride to the fishing grounds. Trips out of Santa Barbara will either target rockfish and lings along the coast or at the west end of Santa Cruz or Santa Rosa Islands. Less fishing pressure in these northern waters usually translates into bigger fish that are willing to bite in shallower water.
Both Channel Islands Sportfishing and Ventura Sportfishing also run trips that will fish the Channel Islands. These landings offer more fishing options than you’ll find in Santa Barbara, but there is a little longer run to the best fishing areas. Based on that, your best bet to catch big fish is to get on an overnight trip. Weather permitting, these boats will run to Santa Rosa Island or the west end of Santa Cruz. These areas are known for kicking out big lingcod and rockfish in shallow water, which makes for some fun fishing. The 1/2 and 3/4-day trips also get into some good rockfishing, but they fish deeper water for the most part.
Marina Del Rey Sportfishing and Redondo Sportfishing run 1/2 and 3/4-day rockfish trips in the Santa Monica Bay. There are lots of good rockfish spots in the bay, but they tend to be in deeper water (200-300-feet) and the quality isn’t always the best. On these trips you can expect mostly small reds, big boccacio and the occasional lingcod. The one bright spot is that the big yellows have been occasionally biting on the rockfish spots in the bay, so if you’re lucky enough to be out on the right day, you might score a yellow or two. As with anywhere you fish this year, bring a yo-yo rod and some heavy jigs because you just never know.
There are four landings offering rockfish trips in LA and LB harbors. 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro offers everything from 1/2-day to overnight trips and all of them will be fishing rockfish the next couple months. If you’re interested in fishing Catalina, the Pursuit runs daily trips. I have to warn you that these trips are really popular and the boat can get extremely crowded; especially on their mid week discounted trips. A better option is the Native Sun that runs a local 3/4-day trip. The boat tends to be less crowded and you’ve got a chance at getting one of the big yellows that have been hanging around the local rockfish grounds.
Long Beach Sportfishing will also be running a variety of trips. Their most popular is the overnight San Nicholas Island trip that the El Dorado runs daily. It’s a long boat ride to and from this island, but the fishing is usually excellent for big rockfish and due to the island being in the CCA, the maximum depth you can fish is 120-feet. So, if you want to catch some big rockfish and sheephead on your bass gear I’d check out the El Dorado.
Both Pierpoint Landing and Marina Sportfishing will be running rockfish trips. They’ve got a variety of 1/2 and 3/4-day options and are closest to the Long Beach rockfish grounds. Pierpoint Landing also offers overnight trips, but they’re not regularly scheduled so you’ll need to check with the landing to see what they’ve got running.
The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach will be running daily trips to San Clemente Island. These are combo trips that spend the morning fishing for yellowtail and the afternoons targeting rockfish. With lots of yellows and big rockfish biting at the island right now, this is one of the best options on the coast right now.
Dana Point Sportfishing and Helgrens Sportfishing in Oceanside are both running trips that mostly target the waters between the two marinas. These rockfish areas aren’t known for producing a lot of big fish, but on the right day you can load up on quality reds. This area has also been producing a lot of yellowtail, so you can expect sport boats to fish for rockfish while waiting for the yellows to bite.
Most of the rockfishing done out of San Diego Landings is in Mexican waters, so not much has changed there. Boats fishing the 9 Mile Bank and the Coronados are getting good scores of big rockfish and boats running to Colonett are loading up on them when they’re done with the yellows. I’d check with your favorite landing and see what trips they’ve got that fit into your schedule and budget.