Looking back on the 4th of July weekend, it was pretty much what I expected; crowded launch ramps, lots of private boaters chasing around the sport boat fleet, and huge stretches of coastline left deserted but for the handful of boaters willing to break away from the pack. I understand that I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record; but if you’re a private boater, who fishes with the fleet, stop it! You’re missing out on some of the best fishing that our coast has to offer. Just take a chance and point your boat in a different direction than the rest next time you’re on the water and you might just be surprised at what you’ll find.
There are lot’s of good options available to both private and party boat fishermen right now, so let’s take a look at what’s biting and how to best position yourself to take advantage of it.
The seabass and yellowtail are still biting at the Channel Islands and there are plenty of calico bass and rockfish to catch if the exotics pull a no show. If you’re going on a sport boat, I’d choose an overnight trip out of Channel Islands Sportfishing as you’ll get more fishing time and have the option to run to Santa Rosa if the fish are biting there. Private boaters who don’t mind fishing with the fleet can post up with everyone else on the standard spots at Anacapa or Santa Cruz. If that doesn’t appeal to you, the calico bass have been biting among the boiler rocks and in the kelp at Santa Cruz Island. I spoke with Captain Larry Heron of Calico Hunter Charters and he said that the bass fishing has been excellent with lots of good sized fish eating swimbaits, surface iron and waxwings.
Santa Monica Bay
If you’re a sport boat fisherman, I’d avoid the area unless you’re interested in targeting rockfish. The combination of a lack of live bait and no migratory fish has left the sport boats out of Redondo and Marina Del Rey spending the bulk of their time fishing rockfish. There are, however, several viable fishing options for private boaters in the Santa Monica Bay. Starting to the north, the kelp along the Malibu coast is kicking out some good calico bass fishing. Between Santa Monica and Redondo, there are sand bass and calicos to be caught on deep-water structure and seabass lurking around the squid grounds in the area. To the south, Rocky Point and the Palos Verdes Peninsula are producing good calico fishing and offer a shot at a seabass as well.
Long Beach to Newport Beach
The sand bass and barracuda bite has been hit or miss over the last couple of weeks, but the good news is that it’s now tending towards more hits than misses. The most consistent sand bass action has been on the twilight trips that have been regularly scoring limits and the morning half days and ¾ day trips have been the best bets for daytime fishing. On the days where the wind doesn’t blow too hard, the afternoon half-day trips have been posting good scores with light loads, but at this time of year it’s almost always windy later in the day.
Catalina and San Clemente Islands
Both of these islands have had consistent calico fishing along with inconsistent fishing for yellowtail and seabass. The ¾ day boats out of LA and LB Harbors have been fishing the yellows at Catalina and occasionally getting decent scores, while the overnight boats have been having some more consistent luck. If you want to fish the islands, I’d recommend jumping on an overnight boat, as it will be less crowded and you’ll have more range and fishing options. If you’re a private boater, the bass are biting in their usual areas, but the bite on exotics is constantly changing, so any information I gave here will be useless by the time you read it. If you’re planning on spending any time fishing the islands or offshore this year, I’d recommend investing in a fishdope membership to help you stay abreast of what’s happening on the water leading up to your next trip.
Dana Point to Oceanside
This area is in its standard summer pattern with calicos biting along the kelp, sand bass and halibut biting in deeper water and the occasional dorado or yellowtail showing up under a patty offshore.
The offshore bite still hasn’t officially come together, but it’s showing signs of doing just that. Overnight boats are catching yellowtail on kelp paddies along with the occasional tuna or dorado. If you’re planning a trip, I’d book a 1 ½ day or longer as it will allow you to take advantage of the afternoon bite if there is one. Another option is to book a trip aboard the Seasons which is running 5 AM – 5 PM open party trips this Friday and Saturday on their new 34 foot Parker. Captains Jaime and Duane have been on a hot streak all year for the big seabass and yellowtail, so jump on one of these trips if you get the chance.
Along the coast there are still some occasional yellowtail and seabass being caught by private boaters, but most of the action is from the calico bass in the kelp and the sand bass below the border. The ½ and ¾ day boats out of H & M Landing have been getting limits or close to limits of big sand bass almost every trip. If you’re a private boater, you can spend the morning fishing sand bass and then head to the Coronado Islands to look for a yellowtail later in the day.