This being the first day of spring, we can finally start referring to the great fishing we’ve had the last few weeks as a springtime bite. This may not seem all that important, but late winter bites always have me a little nervous because they tend to stop suddenly at the slightest hint of wind or water temp changes. Springtime bites on the other hand seem to be a little more resilient and will usually bounce back after conditions change.
But regardless of which season it falls under, the fish are definitely biting this week.
Starting to the north, the Channel Islands are kicking out excellent rockfishing for the sport boats running to Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Island. If you’re planning a trip up that way, you’ll want to get on an overnight or a full day trip, as it will give you the range to get to the areas that have been producing bigger fish. Captain Larry Heron of Calico Hunter Charters fished the west end of Santa Cruz Island with his group on Saturday and they had limits of rockfish and lingcod. All fish were caught on 5″ Big Hammer swimbaits fished in 40-60 feet of water. Private boaters take note; there is plenty of shallow structure along the Channel Islands that will produce big fish, so don’t automatically run out and fish the same deep spots as the sport boats.
The fish are also biting along the coast south of Santa Barbara Island. Scott Summersgill fished there over the weekend with his son Matthew and his friend Nick Tharp. He reported finding pockets of willing biters in some isolated spots along the coast. The key was to slowly pick apart any spots that held fish. They caught fish on a variety of lures including; 4″ and 5″ Big Hammer swimbaits, spinner baits, A-rig, and swim-jigs. The group ended up with close to twenty bass to 3 pounds, a bunch of rockfish and the jackpot lingcod caught by Matthew.
The Santa Monica Bay continues to kick out the best rockfish bite in the LA area.
The mix of decent sized reds and quality miscellaneous rockfish is good enough to make sport boats out of San Pedro and Long Beach make the run north. So if you were planning on riding a sport boat I’d save the boat ride and just jump on a trip out of Redondo or Marina Del Rey. Private boaters fishing the Bay have been doing well on rockfish, but the artificial reefs are kicking out some good bass fishing early and late in the day, so you might want to do a combo trip.
The calico bass are biting along Palos Verdes, but the big storm we had a couple weeks ago has completely changed the way the peninsula is fishing. Matt and I fished up there a couple times over the weekend and I was shocked by how much kelp got tore out during the storm. My best guess is that approximately 50-60% of the surface kelp is gone in most spots. The meter showed there was still kelp 10-15 feet down, but the few strands that still made it to the surface were stripped of their leaves. The kelp should recover somewhat in the next couple months, but if the water keeps warming (it was 65 degrees there on Friday afternoon) the kelp should start to die off by early summer. I could write an entire article about what this means to the way PV is fishing, and I probably will, but for now suffice it to say that the fish are still biting on the surface in areas with healthy kelp. There are some big fish in the mix, I missed a giant on Friday evening, but the fishing is slow overall.
Catalina kicked out the biggest calico bass that I’ve heard of this year on Wednesday.
Justin Hugron was fishing the backside of the island with Chris Lilis and Jeff Peck when he hooked the monster in 20 feet of water. The fish ate a 6″ Pearl swimbait on a WAR Baits Slayer Head and tipped the scales at 11 pounds before being photographed and released. Brandon Hayward of Onemancharters.com took a charter group to San Clemente Island to see if he could relocate the yellows he’d left there before the storm. The fish had moved on to somewhere else but his passengers had lots of surface iron eating calico bass to fill the void. Hayward will be heading back over to the island to see if he can find where the yellows have gotten off to. If you’re looking for a fun day of fishing Clemente, visit his website to check out upcoming trips.
The BIG news this week is that the yellowtail at the Coronado Islands actually bit for more than two days in a row for a change. The sport boats fishing the island scratched away at the fish early in the week and had some big scores on Wednesday. Most boats reported landing 50-75 fish, with a bunch lost to seals and break offs. The yo-yo jig continues to be the most consistent producer, but the fish are biting the surface iron as well. Captain Aaron Graham took a day off from running rockfish trips on the Monte Carlo is San Pedro to head out on the Mission Belle out of Point Loma and he landed a limit of nice yellows on the surface iron.
Private boaters are getting in on the island action as well. Duane Mellor of Seasons Sportfishing fished with friends on Wednesday and reported excellent surface iron fishing. The key for private boaters is to avoid the sport boats, and the packs of seals associated with them. Instead look for bait schools on the meter or terns working on the surface. If you’re marking bait or fish deep, drop the yo-yo jig and if you’re seeing birds working, try throwing the surface iron.
Now that the fish are biting, brush up on Erik’s tips for tackle setups for yellowtail HERE.