|In my column in WON this week I laid out 1,000 words on predictions and conditions. It's really tough to predict what is going to happen in the salt--especially the past few seasons--but given the cold water, later-to-start-than-usual trend that the SoCal Bight and northern Baja have been in the past few seasons, there are a few predictions that I feel can be made with almost certainty. One is that of a good seabass season.
If you read last week's Local's Only feature hopefully you put the paper down realizing 1) that a tank of mackerel or any big finbait is what it takes to get a fish from now until the squid pushes in, and 2) we are set up to have a banner squid season.
The DFG's open water trawl surveys turned up more larvae and baby squid than ever before, and they have predicted that the quota will be met by late September this year, compared to November of last year and December of 2010 (the first year the quota was ever met).
Now before you balk at the prediction (the whole DFG, lol thing) keep in mind that the DFG predicted when the quota would be met within a few days the past few seasons.
The squid is going to come, and when it pushes in there's going to be incredible volume. The fact that there is so much inch-long squid around in the deep water right now speaks volumes as to how much squid is offshore. After all, that's where squid lives until it pushes in to spawn and die in the shallows.
With squid comes summer seabass when the water is 63 to 68, and this year should be every bit as good as the last few seasons. Yes, the seabass season at the islands was really late to start last year when it wasn't until late May when Catalina kicked off the island bite and then Clemente went off for the Options in July. Then the Ventura County coast bit and the Channel Islands and Hermosa Beach and Rocky Point... there was a cascade of seabass bites early summer of last year.
It's going to be good again, especially along the coast. It's insane, but the average seabass went from 42 pounds in 2010 to 45 pounds in 2011. Yeah, this was an average fish in the fall of 2010 when most gave up on seabass once the offshore season kicked in come Labor Day (which, ironically, is when most hang it up offshore during a "normal" season). It'll be good this year, sure, but I would be shocked if the fishing is ever like it was in 2010 again in my lifetime.
The early season yellowtail off La Jolla this spring has showed that private boaters are hungry to sink their teeth into something after such a long off season. There's no doubt that when the word gets out about the squid and seabass it will get crowded and the bite will shut off or slow to a trickle. Seabass just can't handle the pressure and the noise and commotion. Maybe at Catalina in the bait grounds, but not along the coast. It's the whole "they deserve respect" thing along the coast...
Around the end of next month it's going to be time to start looking for squid and seabass. In the meantime, picking off a one fish limit with fin bait is a possibility.
Hopefully there's enough zones biting when they show up that everyone gets shots. The fishery is healthy, and the changing face of seabass fishing (they bite best in late spring/early summer, not late winter/early spring like in decades past at Catalina) means that seabass is what many spend their time on until offshore fishing gets going.
Tomorrow's blog will talk about offshore prospects.