Well, that hot rockfish bite that we’d been experiencing for the last month ended at midnight on Tuesday when the seasonal rockfish closure went into effect for Southern California. While this gives our local rockfish stocks time to go about making more baby rockfish without any angling pressure, it leaves anglers without much to fish for in the meantime.
The good news is that the rockfish bite in Mexican waters is just heating up and there are multiple options for anglers wishing to fill their freezers.
The most popular trips out of the San Diego landings are the 3/4-day and overnight trips that will fish the Rockpile down through the Finger Banks for cod. These trips are fairly affordable and usually produce limits of fish, but the fish tend to be on the small side. Another option, and one that I prefer is to jump on a 1-1/2-day trip to fish Colonett. While these 1-1/2-day trips are more expensive and a bigger time commitment than the overnighters, they usually give anglers a shot at catching bigger reds and lings than they’d get closer to home.
The final option, which has become my new favorite, is to book a four-pack charter or get on an open party trip on one of Seasons Sportfishing’s boats. These 3/4-day trips are expensive, costing about the same as a 1-1/2-day trip to Colonett, but allow anglers to catch big fish close to home and do it from a comfortable and uncrowded boat.
While everyone that fishes pretty much already knows the drill on how things go on the 3/4 day, overnight and 1 1/2 day trips out of San Diego, I’d like to talk about a recent rockfish trip that I took with Seasons Sportfishing. A couple months ago, I’d gotten a call from my friend Bill Batson who was coming down from San Diego with his family and wanted to take his son and sister out fishing. Rather than try to squeeze a bunch of people onto my boat, I called Captain Jamie Thinnes and he set us up with a trip on his new Parker 3420 the Saturday before Christmas. A few days before the trip I received an email with tackle recommendations, when and where to show up and a request for passenger information to prepare the Mexican permit.
My friends and I met up by Dana Landing at six a.m. and walked down the ramp to find the boat ready to go with Jamie and his deckhand standing by to assist bringing our gear aboard. After Jamie gave a brief safety seminar and ran through the day’s game plan, we left the dock and headed to Point Loma to snag squid and mackerel. A stiff southeast wind made the bait making tough. But by working with Captain Duane Mellor on Season’s other boat, a Parker 2520, we were able to locate enough squid and mackerel to get us through the day. Once we had enough bait, the boats headed off side by side for a short 45 minute run to the fishing grounds.
Our first stop was in approximately 350 feet of water and the first mackerel to make it to the bottom was immediately inhaled by a good-sized lingcod. Moments later a five-pound red, that fell for a live squid, was pulled from the depths. The wind and current made for fast drifts, but every time we’d hit a spot multiple people would hook up to quality rockfish. This pattern continued throughout the day and the moves between spots were spent lounging in the comfortable pilothouse or enjoying a beer or some food while hanging out in the stern.
We ended up short of limits of fish due to the adverse wind and current we faced throughout the trip, but to be honest no one really cared. It was just a bunch of friends out fishing in a relaxed atmosphere and without having to deal with being on a crowded boat or having a twelve-hour boat ride to get home.
I didn’t intend for this article to come off sounding like a commercial for Seasons Sportfishing. But after having spent a couple trips fishing with them this year, I can say without a doubt that these guys are absolutely doing things right.
So, if you’ve been considering jumping on a rockfish trip in Mexican waters you owe it to yourself to give them a try.