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Bill Varney's Blog

Be prepared for the beach
We are off to a wild surf fishing summer al­ready. Corbina — and some really big ones — have been in the counts for months and halibut fishing on both the beach and bay has been outstanding.

Already this year we have had tow large south swells, which are both unusual and significant. South swells flush warm, clear water north along the coast. These conditions always produce good surf fishing. With sand crabs already swarming the beach, this may be the epic summer we’ve been waiting for.


tracydeckercorbina

tracydeckerspotfin
TRACY DECKER RECENTLY swept the four divisions of the Balboa Anglers Club Lily Call Bay Tournament. She took first place (by a long shot) in the corbina and spotfin divisions. Her corbina was 5 pounds, 7 ounces and the spotfin was a respectable 4-pound, 4.5 ouncer. The current IGFA record for her corbina line class (4-pound mono, female) is held by Kathy Pomo at 4 pounds, 2 ounces. So, if she applies for it, the IGFA record would be a record that will tough to break.

To be ready for the upcoming surf fishing summer, here are a few tips I’ve put together to get you ready for the surf:


Start preparing the night before. Being well organized and properly prepared will ensure that your fishing will provide you with the best opportunity for success. Check your reels for smooth operation (especially the drag, which is critical in maintaining control of the fish on light-line). Also, make certain your line is in good condition.


Get your bait ready. Don’t waste time fooling around with your bait at the beach. If you’re using clams or mussels, shuck them and put them in small zip top bags before you go. You don’t want to be fiddling with a knife in the dark or when you could be catching fish. If you have live ghost shrimp, put them in a small container of cool saltwater. Place a frozen bottle in the water overnight and you will have lively, crisp shrimp in the morning. If you have collected sand or sidewinder crabs, flush them with cool saltwater twice per day and keep them in a cool place until use. When it comes to grubs and artificial lures, know in advance what you want to use.


Pre-tie leaders. Tie several lengths of leader with different sizes and types of hooks. Use leader material appropriate for the areas you will fish and the target species. Organizing these on leader holders will keep them from getting tangled and make it easy to replace broken or knotted leaders. Fewer knots to tie on the beach equals more time for fish on the line. I use six-pound fluorocarbon leader material.


Get your camera and batteries ready. I like to use a plastic zip bag to carry my camera in. This helps keep the sand and salt off your equipment. Always clean your lens the night before with an appropriate lens cleaning paper or cloth to be sure there are no spots on the lens to obscure your pictures.


Organize and put your tackle in a tackle bag. I like to use a small bag that straps around my waist or a tackle wallet that hangs from around my neck. Inside the bag I’ll have:


Check the beach conditions. Look at fish, weather, wind and swell reports on sites like: www.fishthesurf.com, www.socalsurfrats.com, www.scsurffishing.com, www.fishingnetwork.com, www.fishweather.com, www.eebmike.com and many others. From these sites you’ll learn how to plan for the beach based on the conditions. For example, if it is going to be windy, I would look for a spot near a jetty protected from wind, or on a day with strong surf, I might start fishing in a sheltered area or protected cove. It’s smart to check out a live web camera which focuses on the beach you will be fishing the day (or several days) before you go. This way you can see the size of the surf, know when it gets crowded and the probable forecast for morning and afternoon wind conditions.


Check the swell conditions. The size of surf is always important to surf fishermen. You want the surf to be between one and five feet. If the surf is too small, little water will be moving and you’ll find few fish. Waves over five feet will create a current that makes catching fish much more difficult. You will also want to determine the direction of the swell. If the swell is from the south, you can assume it will be pushing warmer water up the coast (which is good), but may also make some areas unfishable. Take time to familiar­ize yourself with your favorite spots during different swell conditions. By checking websites like www.fishweather.com and www.surfline.com, you can use graphic forecast models to predict swell size and direction days before heading down to the beach.


Check the tides. Only the use of sharp hooks is more important than this one. Knowing the best tide for your spot will be the difference between catching fish and getting “skunked.” I use a tide graph like the one on my site so I can see the tides over a seven-day period at a glance. This makes it easier to know when the right tides are for the best fishing and will allow you to plan ahead with confidence. I’ve found that if the beach has never been dredged and has natural structure (like kelp and rocks) it can be fished at both high and low tides. But in areas that have been dredged, I often fish between two hours before to two hours after the high tide. This is when the greatest amount of structure is covered by water and provides inshore troughs that hold fish. When fishing for corbina, a low tide going to a high tide is a good time as the fish regularly come up and over the crab beds to feed. When fishing for perch, I like a high going to a low tide so as to drag my bait down the sand into their trough. For halibut, the best tide may be at peak high and peak low tides when the water is most calm. “Them’z lazy critters!”


Check the weather. Find out if a storm is coming or if the wind is going to be up. There’s no reason to go to the beach as waves of rain roll in — but there are times, just hours or days before a storm, when the change in barometric pressure, caused by the approaching low, triggers a signal for fish to eat and then go wide open!


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Pick up Bill Varney’s 3rd Edition of Surf Fishing, The Light-Line Revolution at surffishtackle.com or at your local tackle shop. If you are interested in attending an on-the-beach surf fishing seminar with Bill, check out fishthesurf.com and click on “Seminars.”


Merit McCrea's Blog

The CCA in Texas
Several months back, one of Izorline National Sales Manager Wendy Tochihara’s distributors, Brian Brewer, owner of Titan Tackle in Texas, invited her down to fish with his wife Jenifer’s team, in an all women redfish tournament. The immense Babe’s on the Bay Tournament draws over 1,300 participants and their families to Rockport Texas annually. The event, the largest one-day unrestricted tournament in the U.S., fills this small town for one weekend each year.

ccatexas
CCA TEXAS LABORATORY For Marine Larviculture at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Fisheries and Mariculture facility, with Wendy Tochihara, Dr. Joan Holt and Merit McCrea.

It’s boats and trailers, matching team shirts, and teams with outlandish names, some not fit to print, with many others, like “Filthy Oars” just barely riding the line. It’s live-baits like shrimp, croakers, pin-perch and blue crabs and subcategories like guided, guided - artificial only, non-guided, non-guided - artificial only and juniors.


A couple of months after Wendy committed to the Titan Tackle team; I discovered the tournament was a Coastal Conservation Association Texas event. With CCA California having debuted in March, being the last of the big coastal states to come onboard, I was excited to accompany her and see how Texas did it. Texas was the birthplace of this now national organization.


The target was red drum and speckled trout, both members of the croaker family, like our white seabass. The venue was the wide, island-studded bays that form a mostly wading-depth expanse of estuarine waters. These stretched for more than 70 miles along the South Texas Coast. It was 80-degrees plus and 90 percent humidity in May, and the water was the same, only slightly more humid, being liquid of course.


We pre-fished the day before the tournament, and ran for cover as cell phones blared something about tornado warnings at about noon. The next day it was just the ladies and their guides.


At weigh-in there were ice chests full of fish, many with 3 big speckled trout and a redfish. This is a tricky tournament, as it is governed by slot limits. The winning team had to come up with big fish, but not too big.


Picture “Day at the Docks,” but twice as big, and with a line of 4-women teams, all in their finest high-heat fishing attire, each toting a hefty sack of fish or shoving an ice chest along the lawn. Actually there were two such lines, guided and non-guided. While the guided line stretched the length of the event, the non-guided line was twice as long, extending back and winding through the booths, past the BBQ wagon, the drink ticket booth, the bar and beer stand, around the back and through the vender booths.


With the redfish max limit at 28 inches, a team in line near Titan had one that had started out at 28 and 1/8 inches. It had chilled in the ice-chest, shrinking to just under 28 as rigormortis set in; a definite winner, right? They would place out of the money, in third place in the big redfish side-pot!


To say CCA Texas is a big deal is an understatement. In fact they have funded not one but two large scientific institutions, one the University of Texas, Marine Science Institute, Fisheries and Mariculture Laboratory in Port Aransas, and the other the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at Texas A&M’s Harte Research Institute, on their Corpus Christi campus.


In 2012 Texas’ CCA committed $500,000 for its establishment. The Center focuses on the many challenges to maintaining healthy gamefish populations, both inshore and offshore, to assure the best decisions are made in managing fisheries and the marine environment of the Western Gulf of Mexico.


The Fisheries and Mariculture Lab spawns red drum, flounder, snook, pompano and pig fish currently. Much of the seminal scientific knowledge regarding spawning and rearing captive marine fish is the product of their redfish work. Dr. Joan Holt, MSI Professor Emeritus, was our host there and it was her early work that has lead to marine fish spawning and larval fish rearing successes around the world.


It’s not just science that CCA Texas supports, that’s just a part of the picture. CCA Texas builds artificial reefs, stocks fish and makes sure Texas anglers don’t loose access to their waters and fisheries.


CCA Texas is huge, and it’s not just recreational anglers that contribute, but the many businesses and individuals that simply want to support a good cause, one that’s important to their community. Hosting fun events like Babe’s on the Bay doesn’t hurt either. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that, even if they have to learn how to tie a fishing knot or two along the way.


Dr. Greg Stunz, Director of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation put it this way; If one goes to a Texas tackle shop and asks about getting started fishing, typically they are told they will need fishing gear, a license, Oh, and by the way, they need to join CCA. It’s just the way of it.


Many members may not even fish, they just like the cause, and the fun events local CCA chapters put on. Maybe the boss fishes and bought a whole table.


* * *

Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California partyboat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at: merit@wonews.com.


Pat McDonell's Blog

El Nino on the way, in the larger size
The bite is heating up already
Opah at the 150 spot!

 

The word now, a full-blown El Nino is likely coming. Look for fall rains, warmer water, more exotics and all the usual -- good and bad -- aspects of a full on warm water condition. Last year was a mere tune-up.


In a report on Monday morning on KPBS.org, while similar indications were reported last year at this time, this year is shaping up to be different, said David Pierce, climate researcher with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That said, it’s still too early to know for sure, he stated in the KPBS story.


“You have to have both the ocean and the atmosphere cooperating together,” Pierce said. “Last year the ocean surface temperatures and the subsurface temperatures below the surface looked like it was going to be an El Niño, but the atmosphere didn’t really start responding. But this year is a little bit different. The atmosphere does seem to be responding.”


Pierce said El Niño is set in motion when massive convective storms form over the warmer-than-usual tropical Pacific.


“It’s kind of like if you roll a ball down a hill and there’s a lot of people around, “ Pierce said. “Someone might run up and kick it and deflect it from its path. So we’re rolling down hill, we’re aiming towards an El Niño, but random weather events can still make a difference.”


See KPBS.org for more on this story.Of course, we are already seeing the effects of warmer water. 


I think the weather has me snakebit. The last three Fridays -- the Davey’s/Freelance charter I hosted, the May 16-17 Catalina WSB tourney I directed, and this past Friday on my 18-foot boat with WON BASS director Billy Egan out of San Diego -- it has rained and blown all three days, The rest of the days of those weeks? Perfect. Anyway, chasing catching yellows under birds was brutal in 15 knot winds and chop, but we did it. We hit the Coronados to Nine Mile Bank to the inside about 5 miles off Point Loma, and got one fish, a 20 pounder. Billy got it on two cranks on a wrapped surface jig. That’s the second time he’s been on my boat and gotten just one fish, both yellows. I told him that’s the boat’s official limit for him now, and just deal with it. Ha. Better to get one than blanked.


BILLY EGAN of WON with our lone yellow. It ate the surface iron. The bite continues to be excellent this week, at the islands and on the coast, under the birds. 


Good tip: True, the yellows are eating the iron, but if they don’t and they are  on the surface but lockjawed,  try a 1-ounce leadhead with a 4-inch swimbait. Some red in that bait will help as they are on small bait or the red crabs. The fish are moving fast.


his past week, the 43 Fathom Spot and 150 Spot off Huntington Beach gave up opahs. On Monday, Jim Cook of Hesperia caught a135.7-pound opah on a live while using an Avet reel, Izorline 40-pound line on a dropper loop setup. He was headed back out after he weighed it in n Memorial Day.

JIM COOK AND HIS opah from the 150 Spot yesterday off Huntington Beach, on  Memorial Day. 

 

Good news from Billy Egan. The upcoming WON BASS Clear Lake Open, one of the two big pro bass events we have, is way up in signups. Each year the tourney – and the U.S. Open at Mead, have grown in size. They are easily the biggest pro events in the West. Bill also directs the SARL, Big Bear and Havasu events for WON.


This reporter will be on Let’s Talk Hookup this Saturday, May 30, on 1090-AM from 7 to 9 a.m. with hosts Pete Gray and Rockcod Rick Maxa. We'll be talking tournaments, El Nino, fishing and the newspaper’s latest stories. Call in if you can. The free Mighty 1090 App is how I listen to the show on my phone. Go to Hookup1090.com and you can listen by clicking the icon, and also get the app there. But any app store can do that instantly. I like the station in general and tune into Pads games, so the app works for me outside the station’s power range. It’s just far more convenient as I’m not tied to the radio. Call in at (877) 792-1090 or (858) 457-1090.


Angler Chronicles TV show producer and good friend Danny Jackson let me know that on Fox Sports West, a June 14 segment on catfishing is good one to watch or DVR. “It is called "Catfish 101" and is a tutorial as well as lots of bent rod action on blue and channel catfish,:” said Danny. “ We have fish in the 20- and 30-pound range on video. There are also very good tutorials on how to rig, techniques, baits and even how to fillet and cook them.


ROFESSIONAL GUIDE AND LOCAL expert, Capt. Don Spencer.   Huge blue and channel catfish will be featured in a new Angler Chronicles episode to air on June 14.


Added Jackson, “I did film all of this at Irvine Lake and it will be a good episode to kick off the summer since lots of anglers look to target catfish in the summer. Everything in this program of course applies to anywhere fishermen are targeting catfish in the southland.”


One of top calico hunters around,Karl Erbacher, recently caught the biggest calico bass ever caught in a tournament. Amazingly, it only got he and his teammate John Dunlap, a second place finish at a recent SWBA event. This has been the year of big calicos, for sure. Lot of theories why. One is that the islands’ squid nests bulked them up and spoiled them, now the nests are gone and they are more aggressive.


The 10.6 pounder was caught at Catalina Island on May 9 with Erbacher using a Big Hammer 9-inch sledge in color #125 Hot Karl. The total bag weight for the 5-fish limit was over 28 pounds and good for a second place team finish.


KARL, RIGHT,  AND JOSH Dunlap at the weigh-in earlier this month.


The “Team Salty” duo, regulars on the bass tours,  are big fish honchos. They have now   set the big fish record for the SWBA series with this fish, and also holds the big fish for the SBS with a 9.48 calico.


The tale of the check: In the Catalina WSB tourney, the winning check total was written out without factoring in the $1,400 first place money. So we did it digitally back here at WON. Looked pretty good. In the tourney at Two Harbors, we assemble the stats on the computer in 15 minutes so we can get to the awards, have lunch, give away the monster pile of prizes and get the folks back fishing or on the road across the channel. In all, it went pretty smooth this year, $19,000 in bucks and $25,000 in prizes, including a trip to Alaska for two and two Furuno units, 12 Avets, six Cousins rods, Grundens clothing sets (4)……..but the white seabass were nonexistent. Good thing we had yellows and halibut to weigh.


One question teams had was, if no WSB was weighed, when what happens to the optional money? There was $4,590 in the three optionals. It will all be returned, minus 10 percent. Strangely, it made for a lot of happy teams. If you can’t win, then getting most of the dough back is second best and not so bad. It’s an accounting nightmare for us. We really like to give that money out at the tourney.


Next up for me as a tourney director is the Sept. 4-5 San Diego Jackpot at Dana Landing, in its third year. The first year we had 9 teams in a hastily created event when Ensenada was cancelled. Last year, in its second go-around, we had 45 teams. This year the tuna and yellowtail event should draw even more teams. It’s just $50 to enter as person, no limit on team members (two is minimum) and if you have a Yamaha powering your boat, you get a free individual entry. Payouts to third, $100 optionals for yellows and tuna. Check in is Friday night and Saturday morning at Dana Landing (only, this year). See Wonews.com (click on WON events).


Pat McDonell is editor of Western Outdoor News and director of the WON saltwater events at Cabo, San Diego and Catalina. Contact him at Patm@wonews.com


 


 


 


 

Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Waiting For Good Weather
Hot-Bite Report for Friday, May 22, 2015:

The weather continues to be an issue in the Southern California fishing picture with late season northern weather systems passing through Southern California over the past 3 weeks that have been bringing some wind and rain. The current weather system that is passing through today (Friday) has been relatively mild so far but has still brought a bit of rain and some wind. The weather is unsettled at the moment and I urge you to always check the latest marine weather forecast before you head out onto the ocean.


Click on the image to get the best saltwater reports daily at www.976bite.com.

There is a bit of news to report to you from offshore waters as there have been some yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna and yellowtail biting during the past week. Not many boats have been out fishing offshore waters but there have been some yellowfin tuna and yellowtail biting for boats fishing down around the 238 Spot and below to the waters outside of Punta Colnett. The Dominator out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished an overnight trip on Thursday and had 19 anglers catch 27 yellowfin tuna and 35 yellowtail.

There are also bluefin tuna being found at various spots in Mexican waters but anglers need to keep in mind that bluefin tuna remain illegal to catch in Mexican waters and must be released. There was a private boater report of some bluefin tuna being found in United States waters on Thursday. The report was that a private boater picked up a few good sized yellowtail under kelp paddies and saw some bluefin tuna while fishing out at the 182 Spot which is located at 25 miles 264 degrees from Point Loma. In the report I got about this area it was unclear as to whether the boat out there had caught any bluefin.

Another report from the area of the Corner was that there were a few yellowfin caught aboard a private boat that was fishing out that way on Thursday. An area of relatively warm 64 degree water in this region was located inside of the Corner at around 28 miles 245 degrees from Point Loma.

Generally speaking, the reports about bluefin and yellowfin have been scattered with very few boats out fishing. If the weather cooperates, there should be increased coverage of offshore waters over the holiday weekend to help get a better picture of what might be available to catch offshore.

The yellowtail fishing around the Coronado Islands has been up and down with the recent unsettled weather conditions but there continue to be some pretty good numbers of yellowtail around and biting each day. As an example of the fishing, Thursday's 3/4 day trip on the Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had 21 anglers catch 13 yellowtail, 15 rockfish and 2 lingcod. Thursday's count on the 3/4 day trip on the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had 38 anglers catch 38 yellowtail. H&M Landing's Thursday 3/4 day trip aboard the Malihini had 24 anglers catch 11 yellowtail, 1 lingcod, 7 rockfish, 1 barracuda and 1 calico bass.

The yellowtail around the Coronados have been scattered with a few areas around the Islands that have been producing most of the action. Productive spots have been Pukey Point at North Island, the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island and the Ribbon Kelp inside of South Island.

Some of the yellowtail fishing has been done while sitting on the anchor but the majority of the action has been coming from stopping and drifting on sonar marks, meter marks or spots of fish found on the surface under working tern birds. Best bets for the yellowtail have been flylined sardines and surface iron. Some private boaters have also had success with yellowtail while slow trolling nose hooked sardines at around 2 knots of speed.

In addition to yellowtail, there has been a mix of barracuda, bonito, calico bass and rockfish biting. Best areas for the barracuda, calico bass and bonito have been while fishing around kelp beds such as the Ribbon Kelp, 5 Minute Kelp and South Kelp.

The fishing along the San Diego County Coast has seen a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin and rockfish biting. There has also been improved surface fishing for a mix of barracuda, yellowtail and calico bass for boats fishing around the Point Loma Kelp Beds. Try the kelp beds at the lower part of Point Loma such as the Dropoff, 5 Tanks and the Lab. Also look for spots of yellowtail under working tern birds in the area ranging from the kelp beds at Point Loma on out to the lower and middle parts of the 9 Mile Bank. Boats fishing the Imperial Beach Pipeline have also been finding occasional yellowtail under working birds and via meter marks with scanning sonar.

There have been a very few good sized white seabass biting for boats fishing off Mission Beach. John Campbell from the International Yellowtail Derby reported that another large white seabass was caught by tournament angler Josh Levine on Thursday evening while fishing aboard a kayak. The big seabass weighed 45 pounds and was caught while fishing with a live mackerel on 50 pound test line at 5:45 PM. The past few weeks have seen the Mission Beach area produce white seabass of 45, 38, 33 and 23 pounds 7 ounces for anglers fishing in the International Yellowtail Derby.

The yellowtail bite at San Clemente Island has been effected by the recent unsettled weather conditions but there are still some yellowtail around and biting to go with a mix of calico bass, bonito, barracuda and rockfish.

The best area for yellowtail has been for boats fishing the ridges outside of Pyramid Cove in the 16 to 20 fathom depths. The 9 Fathom Spot at the west end of the Island has also produced occasional flurries of action on the yellowtail. Sardines have been the best yellowtail bait when flylined, fished with a dropper loop rig or fished with a sliding sinker. Productive areas for calico bass have been the 9 Fathom Spot, the kelp beds between Pyramid Cove and China Point and on the front side of the Island at Purse Seine Rock and White Rock.

Catalina Island also continues to produce a mix of yellowtail, calico bass, bonito, barracuda and rockfish and the yellowtail bite has been improving in recent days with some flurries of action on good sized fish biting at the Farnsworth Bank. Other productive areas for yellowtail have been Salta Verde, Freddie's Beach, Orange Rocks, the V's, Church Rock, the East End Light and Seal Rocks.

Look for meter marks, sonar marks and spots of working birds to locate yellowtail at Catalina. The Catalina yellows have included a good percentage of the larger 20+ pound fish. Once yellowtail are located try flylined sardines, sardines fished with a sliding sinker, surface iron or yo-yo iron depending on the depth of the fish.

The 150 Spot located below and outside of the Horseshoe Kelp has seen improved yellowtail action in recent days. Similar to the yellowtail at Catalina, the yellowtail at the 150 Spot have included a good percentage of 20+ pound class fish. Look for meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breezing fish up under working birds to locate the yellowtail around the 150 Spot. Sardines have worked best for bait and at times the yellows have also been biting on yo-yoed iron.

The good fishing continues despite the recent unsettled weather conditions. I hope the Memorial Day weekend provides you with a chance to get out on the water in some nice weather and enjoy some fun fishing!

It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at www.976bite.com . Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.

 

Chris Dunn - The Fishing Weatherman

The Fishing Weatherman Report for May 21, 2015
Here's this week's coastal weather video update.



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