People often ask me questions like, “I’m planning to go fishing this weekend. Where are you or would you be going?”
The answer is almost always, “It depends.”
What’s important to you? Do you want to just catch fish? Best chance at game fish? Target a specific game fish?
As I was starting to think about what to write this week, I found myself thinking, “Name your game fish and go!” It was pretty ridiculous at the beginning of last week. Even though the moonphase wasn’t right, the seabass were still biting at Santa Rosa. If you wanted to get into yellowtail, they had emerged at the Coronado Islands proper (vs. deeper south when I went about a month ago). AND started biting a properly placed surface iron as demonstrated by Danny Wade (right) aboard the San Diego. Then to top it all off, it’s only April and the bluefin were biting offshore on 40 and 50# string!
Very exciting stuff indeed. As I look at where we are today, opportunities to catch seabass, yellowtail and bluefin are still there, but have evolved into new opportunities and challenges.
The new moon is this Saturday, May 4th. That means we’ll be in that golden bite window from Wednesday through next Tuesday. Those overnight trips to Santa Rosa Island should again be the hot ticket. If you want to get on a weekend ride though, you’re probably out of luck. There are plenty of choices if that fever is burning and you go during the week.
Another consideration is that they bit on the full day boats again! It was a little unusual that the bite was hot at the outer islands so quickly. Typically the bite starts local and slowly makes its way outside. After the hot bite at Santa Rosa, Capt. Shawn Steward of the Aloha Spirit put his first seabass of the season in the count this weekend. Shawn told me yesterday they landed 4 fish on 9 bites…all on swimbaits tight to the kelp with fish to 40-pounds.! Maybe it all goes off this week?
I was specifically asked last week, “What’s the best spot to catch yellowtail?” My easy answer was, “Your best bet is going to be on the full day San Diego boats.” That bite is still going, but our own US islands finally woke up. The Thunderbird found a few on Thursday and then blew up on Friday and Saturday posting totals of 71 and 62 respectively (left).
For some reason, there are still Southern California anglers who don’t have a passport and thus can’t fish the Coronado Islands. It’s great to see a domestic option finally emerge. I noticed that several of the LA/OC overnight island boats posted discounted April rates. Not a bad time to take advantage of the reduced fares and divert those funds to your galley tab.
Speaking of offshore, it’s still going. The bite has been on the day-and-a-half boats, but the fish are coming up the line and getting into closer range. The Pacific Queen had its first trip this weekend since Colonet was done then going offline for upgrades and maintenance. They obviously didn’t lose a step with their time off though posting a tally of 46 bluefin and 57 yellowtail this weekend (right).
With the pressure of more boats on them, the fish are starting to get line shy. Instead of 40 and 50# being the norm, anglers are having to resort to lighter line and smaller hooks to get a bite. Be ready with a variety of setups in different line classes (20-50). Circle hooks are a must as well to give yourself the best opportunity to land these fish.
It’s still only April, but the season is in full swing with a variety of options for great fishing in our Southern California waters. Which way would I go? It depends. Don’t overthink it. Just get your buddies together and book a trip! Good luck if you get out there.