Southern California anglers continue to experience good rockfishing as they await the beginning of this year's surface fishing season. There have been some encouraging signs south of the border, as well as improving conditions in our local waters.
Capt. Mike Slater reported good barracuda fishing on Wednesday near Todos Santos Island in Ensenada, Baja California. The toothy critters were being taken on blue and white lures. The captain of the Gamefisher Ensenada also said there were good schools of 15- to 20-pound yellowtail, but very few of the yellowtail were caught.
A few 18- to 25-pound yellowtail were being taken daily around the Coronado Islands and La Jolla. You see a lot more fish than you catch, which is typical of migratory fish just arriving from the south.
In addition to yellowtail, good numbers of barracuda have been taken.
San Clemente Island
There was great rockfishing for the Fishing with Phil group on board the Toronado on Sunday. The early risers were treated to an aerial display of flashes, loud booms and what sounded like small arms fire emanating from the west end of San Clemente Island near Castle Rock.
It was presumably the Navy doing exercises. “It was awesome to see and hear it—really exciting,” said Lokey Rincon of Long Beach.
Capt. Larry Moore remembered a time in the 1970s when jets would climb straight up as far as the eye could see, then dive straight down and fire away at Castle Rock, also known by the U.S. Navy as Target Rock.
“It made the hair on the back of your neck stand up,” said Moore.
Rockfishing was excellent at the island for a variety of bottom grabbers. Nick Nuzzo caught a giant lingcod that you can see in the attached video. It was extra special as it was his birthday.
Tino Valentine, skipper of the Liquid Coast Highway, was on a busman’s holiday over the weekend on a private boat. He caught a white sea bass, limits of calico bass and several halibut. Valentine said things were looking better every single day.
The Native Sun out of Long Beach Sportfishing has been catching sand bass on her Friday and Saturday evening twilight trips, but Capt. Gabriel Ceballos will also be looking for barracuda.
“It looks like they are just starting to move in, and barracuda love to bite at night,” Ceballos said.
Ceballos will be asking anglers to bring their 2-ounce lead heads for the sand bass, as well as small heavy jigs sometimes referred to as yo-yo irons.
Santa Monica Bay
The Tradition out of has been red hot in the Santa Monica Bay. Anglers have been catching limits of rockfish, sculpin and a few nice fat lingcod on most trips. Jimmy Bass from Tradition Sportfishing also believes a barracuda bite is imminent.
“Water temperatures have been up over 60 degrees and there are huge spots of bait around,” Bass said. “Good conditions and food are what you need for this whole thing to take off.”