The fishing season never really closes here in Southern California. That’s never been more true than the last few years when the bluefin bit through the winter months. This year though, things felt like they had finally gotten back to “normal”. The so-called off season months of January and February offered the typical sportboat fishing fare. On the local scene, half-day boats caught sculpin to fill the sacks, while leadhead and squid bass fishing offered a greater angling challenge to round out those trips. There was a little bit of halibut fishing going on. But for any sort of consistent gamefish action, anglers were forced to head south on day-and-a-half Colonet trips. When trips actually got out, deep-water yellowtail provided thrills while yo-yo fishing.
Meanwhile, a majority of boats were out of the water while their crews were kept busy doing boat work. It was slow going because it rained a lot. Anglers were largely left to work on gear in anticipation of the season opener. It was generally pretty dreary.
The waiting is over now!
Friday, March 1st marked the opening of the season. For those lucky enough to get out opening day, it was a great success. Local boats were able to change up their routine and go rockfishing again. That’s Tessa Ericson (top) with a limit of rockfish caught while fishing with her dad Capt. Danny Ericson aboard half-day boat the New Del Mar.
As much as I enjoy catching (and especially eating) rockfish, the greater significance of the season opener is the fact that most of the fleet is back out fishing. The more boats that are out there looking, the better the chance that gamefish will be found, offering greater challenges and thrills for Southern California anglers.
A good example from this weekend is the overnight trip aboard Fortune Sportfishing (out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro). My buddy David Domaguin (aka Capt. Pineapple) invited me out on this trip, and I wish I could’ve gone. Thursday night, the boat departed for San Nicolas Island. Capt. Bob Vierregger kicked things off Friday morning finding some yellowtail that wanted to play. They managed to put 7 fish on deck on 10 hookups. The fish were caught on a combination of dropper loop live squid/sardine, and live squid on a sliding sinker (left).
After that early morning bite passed, they commenced to rockfishing. With live squid on board, the bottom fishing was successful as well. Final tally for the trip was one lingcod each (the new limit for 2019) for the 18 anglers on the boat, limits of rockfish, and a little unusual for San Nic, my buddy David with the single “That Damn Fish” for the trip (right).
After Friday, Mother Nature reminded us it’s still winter. We got pounded with another winter storm that dumped a lot of rain. As the saying goes though, “The fish don’t know it’s raining, they’re already wet.” Anglers that braved the conditions filled sacks of rockfish, with a sprinkle of yellowtail mixed in.
Now with the Fred Hall Show coming up this week, the season is officially kicked off. I’ll be looking forward to getting out myself and sharing some rail time with some of you.
Good luck if you get out there!