With Labor Day weekend come and gone, the kids are back in school and a significant percentage of the weekend warriors have prematurely wrapped up their fishing season. This is my favorite time of year.
Sure the popular areas are still crowded on the weekends and there are probably going to be 10 boats to a kelp paddy again this weekend, but it’s a different world out there on the weekdays.
It’s Time to Fish
I took a day off last Friday to fish Santa Monica Bay in preparation of this weekend’s SWBA (Salt Water Bass Anglers) tournament and the place was a ghost town. We covered a lot of water during our trip and only saw one other boat the entire day.
To quote my friend Mike Dumalski, it’s time to call in sick to work with an eye problem: “I can’t see myself coming in to work today because the fish are biting and the weekends are too crowded.”
Whether you plan on taking a day off or roll the dice on the weekend, there are a lot of fishing options available for Southern California anglers.
Starting in the north, there are rockfish and saltwater bass available at the Channel Islands and along the coast from Santa Barbara down through Ventura. But if you want bass and rockfish, you don’t need to drive that far to catch them. Santa Monica Bay has been producing steady rockfish counts on the deeper spots and the bass fishing can be excellent, but it’s been a bit sporadic.
Remaining flexible is the key to success in the Bay right now. If a particular zone isn’t biting, go look for something different and I don’t mean a similar area — I mean a completely different area. As an example, when I fished Santa Monica Bay on Friday, we had good fishing on the deeper structure spots, but never even saw a bass in the kelp. A friend of mine fished up there the next day and reported good calico fishing in the kelp and not a whole lot of anything happening on the deeper spots.
It’s impossible to predict where the fish will be biting tomorrow, so it pays to cover your bases by having options if you’re going to fish the bay.
Further south, the yellowtail and dorado continue to bite for the offshore guys along the Orange County coastline. The key to success remains finding fresh kelp paddies instead of joining the crowd on the ones that someone has already found.
Live squid has been working better than fin bait, so if you see a light boat on your way out, it’s worth stopping and picking some up. As usual, www.fishdope.com has all the info you’ll need to find out where the fish have been holding and where the light boats are selling bait.
As usual, the waters off San Diego offer the most fishing options. The Coronado Islands have been kicking out good yellowtail fishing for the last few months and the bite continues to be strong.
With the closure of the islands to sport boats, a lot of private boaters have been scared off from fishing them, but those that are making the run are killing the yellowtail. There are a lot of smaller 5- to 10-pound fish at the island right now, but there are also plenty of fish in the 20- to 25-pound range as well.
The hot ticket has been to slow-troll sardines around the usual yellowtail haunts at the island. But since there aren’t any sport boats to attract the seals away from the private boats, it’s important to keep moving around to avoid getting annihilated by them.
There are still plenty of fish to be caught offshore as well and while it’s mostly yellowtail and dorado within three-quarter-day range of the point, the overnight boats have been catching a mix of fish including albacore, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, skipjack, yellowtail and dorado.
Private boaters willing to make the longer runs are also scoring a variety of fish. One of the advantages of making the longer run is that you might stumble into some of those jumbo bluefin tuna that have been showing up. The hot areas have been changing from day to day, so make sure and check FishDope before you waste your fuel running to where they were biting last week only to find out that the fish moved.
Finally, way down south in San Quintin, Mexico, K&M Sportfishing has been absolutely torching the big sea bass. The tankers have been biting for a few weeks now and show no sign of slowing down, but even if they do, there are plenty of yellowtail and tuna waiting to fill the void. The whole area is going off down there and the crowds are light, so if you’ve been wanting to make a trip to Mexico, now is the time to go.
I was supposed to head down there last weekend to fish with Kelly, but a scheduling conflict prevented us from going. My strong suspicion that I was going to miss out on some great fishing was confirmed when Kelly reported that he caught what may be the biggest fish so far this big-fish season — a GIANT 68-pound white seabass. Talk about adding insult to injury…
Oh well, I’m going to head down there as soon as I can and hopefully get in on some of the action before it’s over. If you’re interested in fishing in San Quintin, you can contact Kelly through his website at www.kmfishing.com.
It’s Time to Fish