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SoCal Anglers Find Themselves In Hot Water

Before I get into this week’s report I’d like to take a minute to talk about this unusually hot water we’re experiencing along our coast. According to a NBC 7 News report, “Surface water temperatures in August hit the highest they have ever been in at least a century, according to researchers with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. On Wednesday, August 1, water samples pulled from the end of Scripps Pier showed a reading of 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers said it broke an all-time record. Since 1916, scientists have been tracking water temperatures near the pier in La Jolla every single day. It’s one of the longest ongoing data sets in history.”

hot waterSan Diego isn’t the only place with hot water, this temp shot came from Catalina earlier this week and there is even warmer water out there. My buddy Jimmy Decker fished the ridge below Catalina yesterday and reported water temps as high as 81 degrees. So where are the wahoo and blue marlin that came with the warm water a few years ago? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think they’re coming any time soon.

hot waterI need to preface things with the disclaimer that I’m not a meteorologist and am basing my opinion solely on research I did on the warm water blob / El Nino a few years back in comparison to what we’re seeing today. Without writing a three thousand word explanation, the exotics that came into our local waters a few years back followed the bait and warm water that was delivered from southern Baja by eddies in the Davidson Counter Current created by El Nino driven turbulence along the equator. If you’re interested in learning more you can google it but I warn you, it makes for a pretty dry read.

Anyway, the difference this year is that our localized hot water seems to be a byproduct of a weather system that is blocking the northwest wind from our coastal waters. In a normal summer pattern the wind blows every afternoon creating the typical afternoon white cap conditions all of us skiff anglers have learned to dread. Over the last few months windy afternoons have been the exception rather than the rule and that’s allowed not only the surface temperature of the water to remain high but blocked wind driven upwellings from cooling the water.

Another big difference between a few years ago and today is that the thermocline is much shallower now than it was. This shallow thermocline means the subsurface water is much cooler than it was during El Nino. Like I said, I could be wrong, and all hell might break loose tomorrow, but my guess is that other than killing off most of the kelp and bringing the dorado and yellowfin closer to home, I’m not expecting any big surprises. I guess we’ll have to wait and see but I wouldn’t be dusting off the Marauders any time soon.

hot waterWith the bad news out of the way, let’s take a look at the Navionics Chart for your best weekend angling options. Starting up north, there the yellows are still biting at the Channel Islands. I’m sure there are still some seabass up there they might bite around tonight’s new moon. I haven’t heard anything from the dirt clod or San Nic lately but a buddy got a 180-pound bluefin at Osborne a couple weeks ago and that pocket of cooler water you can see on the SST above might be a good place to look if you’re willing to roll the dice and avoid the gang bang on the backside of Clemente.

hot waterThere are still plenty of big bluefin being caught by both sport boats and private boaters on the backside of the island but if the warm water continues to push up from the south I’d guess those fish are going to head for cooler water, which means going north or west. If they head north they may settle in around Nic or SBI and if they head west they may post up on Cortes or Tanner.

Speaking of Tanner, the overnight and 1 1/2-day boats out of LA and Orange County landings have been fishing there all week. The other day the Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing had 12 bluefin, 6 yellows and limits of white seabass (60) for 20 passengers. Live squid has been the hot ticket to get bit and while the seabass didn’t bite as well on Wednesday, the Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker had 56 bluefin and 12 yellowtail.

hot waterThe calicos fishing is very good at San Clemente Island right now and there are some yellows biting as well. I fished there on Saturday and you can read my full report here. As you can tell from this photo of a nice calico Matt Kotch caught on Wednesday, the bass are biting along the coast as well. The water along Palos Verdes was in the mid 70’s during our trip, which can make it tough to find fish wanting to bite baits on the surface. I’m sure we’d have caught a lot more fish if targeted them lower in the water column but neither of us had any interest in that. Ended up with around 20 fish with one stand out.

hot waterThe yellowfin, dorado and yellowtail are biting for boats fishing south of the border. As you can see from this photo aboard Savvy Sportfishing, kelp paddies have been holding a good grade of mixed fish. Early reports this morning are that some of the boats are finally getting some better yellowfin scores. The Ocean Odyssey reported in at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday that they already had over 100 fish on the boat. Hopefully this is the first wave of biting tuna to get our offshore season in full swing!

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Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California and Mexican waters. Erik is also an active freelance writer and the author of the weekly column So Cal Scene, which BD publishes every Friday. In So Cal Scene, Erik keeps all of the BD readers up to date on what's biting in Southern California. Erik divides his fishing time on local boats, long-range trips and Mexico excursions. For the past eight years, Erik has been competing in the SWBA (Saltwater Bass Anglers) tournament series and has multiple tournament victories to his credit. His sponsors include Batson Enterprises / Rainshadow Rods, Robalo Boats, Tilly's Marine, Abu/Garcia, Penn Reels, Navionics, Raymarine, MC Swimbaits, Uni-Butter Fishing Scent and Bladerunner Tackle.