Does this sound familiar?
“Nice fish. Bait?” No man, on the iron! (BIG SMILE)
Right? There’s nothing better. First there’s the visual aspect. To see a fish chase your lure before you feel it bite; Its hair raising! Then there’s the skill aspect. With most of the fishing we do, you can almost visualize what’s happening below the surface of the water. You guess about how it goes down, but you never really know. Throwing the surface iron though, all your skill is on full display. Recognizing what is happening on the water, having the ability to translate what you are seeing into action to cast your lure to the intended spot, then having it all come together and getting the full, multi-sensual experience of watching it all unfold before your eyes…it just doesn’t get any better.
Just last week, I wrote about fish holding to the bottom and it being all about the heavy iron. I can’t say this is a trend quite yet, but the surface action happened this weekend…and it’s MARCH. After the last 2 years of El Nino fishing, there are a lot of anglers out there with an expectation that we should be catching tuna by now. Yellowtail? Well ok, we’ll settle for that. Some of the best captains I know are hearing complaints that they’re going out rockfishing. For a lot of our coastline, rockfishing is what is going on.
To put things in perspective, in years past we’d wait for around for May to see our first surface action of the year. Typically around Mother’s Day, the barracuda would hit and then we could dust off our surface iron setup and be giddy about catching the slimesticks. Yeah, really.
Yet here we are in March and this weekend we had a really good sign.
I fished on Commander Sportfishing this last weekend with their new captain, Josh Walton (and guest appearance from former captain, Steve Kugler). The Commander just came up to Long Beach Sportfishing from San Diego to kickoff their season. We fished close to Santa Barbara Island. In close proximity, was Capt. Jeffrey Markland on the Thunderbird, and the Pacific Quest on a crew trip with Capt. Greg Obymako and crewmember Geoffrey Nunn. For the better part of the day, the 3 of us anchored up in kind of a triangle formation with the fish corralled in the middle.
It was glorious!
You could see birds working and yellowtail pushing water on top. There was a lot left to be desired in terms of the grade of the fish. The fish were mostly say 5-12-pounds, but to be either flylining a sardine, or casting surface iron to birds working or fish boiling…yeah baby. I got 2 fish to snag their face on my brand new Z-Bar surface iron in mint (gear review to come at SoCalSalty) for my first surface iron fish of the year.
Further south, ALL the ¾-day San Diego boats – the San Diego, Mission Belle, and Malihini all had LIMITS of yellowtail on Sunday with each boat reporting fish being caught on the surface iron. And even further south, the Pacific Queen and Eclipse both had 100+ fish days this weekend with fish coming on the surface iron. Hard to say why this happened, but I sure am happy to report it did. If not for wanting to try out that new jig, I may not have even brought my surface jig stick.
Boy am I glad I did!
At this point, I’ll be bringing it every trip. You should too. Hopefully, you all will get that opportunity soon to experience the uniquely Southern Californian experience of catching a yellow ON THE IRON!
Good luck out there.