When you really strip away the whole seasons part of fishing, what is left are transitions. Cold water to warmer water, for example. And warm to not cold yet, like in late fall.
There are major transitions, like the cold water of winter rockfish season to the great spring fishing for bass, barracuda, halibut and white seabass that made the kickoff to the 2012 season the best in a handful of years. What will hopefully be next come later in July will be the transition over to hot water fishing, where there are yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and dorado that overlap with bluefin and albacore (jury is amongst the more candid skippers is that it’s looking like bluefin and yellows now, and hot water fishing later… read: no big albacore season).
Right now, just by talking to a few skippers and top skiff guys, the prognosis is that the SoCal Bight is kind of in a holding pattern, waiting for new visitors to arrive, and transitioning back to warmer water after all the wind that made some zones take a dip.
That could mean some new squid zones and summer seabass and halibut, or a fresh wave of yellowtail that could show up anywhere from San Mateo to La Jolla or at any of the islands, thanks go, plenty clean and warm enough water in that zone. The first few yellows starting to already get caught at the Channel Islands shows that some of that early season stuff squirted up.
In the meantime, the Channel Islands—for the second year in a row—are really shining, with the best shots at white seabass coming from now Anacapa it sounds like after Santa Cruz gave up some fishing for the memory banks. It's just doggone good fishing.
This month’s WON/Mercury Channel Islands Shootout to be held out of Channel Islands Sportfishing Center is all filled up in the sportboat division, and the private boat entries are coming in. It’s more of a trickle than a flood. Is that why no tournament has ever really got any legs to it outside of the club stuff?
Demographics are an interesting thing. And there’s no doubt that certain zones are more about sportboats than skiffs.
Anyone who sold their boat has been missing out on some incredible local skiff fishing, from Port Hueneme to La Jolla. But then again, there’s a lot that goes with the “new age” of skiff fishing, where the bites from exotics are not anything like the El Nino years or the albacore cycle of the late ‘90s/early 2000s.
No. Now it is about quality of quantity. Putting in a full day—and good chunk of the night—could result in a 30-plus-pound halibut, 30-plus-pound yellow (what’s around is big) and a 50-plus-pound white seabass. Where? Point Mugu, Rocky Point and the stretch from below Dana Point to La Jolla all have the potential, although they require switching up the game plan. Fish a kelp line in the dark for seabass with fresh frozen squid, slow troll mackerel after grey and then fish chunks of hard bottom for halibut. If there was ever a time to try and get all three for a 100-plus-pound inshore slam, this is it. (A little hint as to how I want to spend my next trip.)
But overall we are kind of in a holding pattern right now. The good bites are sticking with it, from sand bass, calico bass and barracuda—depending on region—for the half- and three-quarter-day fleets, to picking away at exotics at the island.
There’s no huge bite going on, outside of the Channel Islands, but it’s biting everywhere, even up in L.A. after the wind and cooled-off water put the sand bass/barracuda bites on hold. And the best is certainly yet to come for the offshore set. The yellows are biting well within 1.5-day range, and it sounds like some of the 1.5-day boys are going to bomb down to the 150 mile zone where the Apollo, Royal Polaris and Excel had over 100 bluefin yesterday. The stuff is biting. If there was ever a perfect replacement for albacore, it's 18- to 30-pound bluefin.
Now it's just a matter of what the wind is going to do? It sure seems like this has been the windiest June in some years.
But if it's blowing and biting now, what's going to happen when it lays down?