CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953


Chris Dunn - The Fishing Weatherman

The Fishing Weatherman Report for Nov. 26, 2014
Here's this week's coastal weather video forecast...

Cousins Surf Fishing Round-Up

A few halibut starting to show
The key to finding fish has been finding clean water, according to Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara. There has been lots of weeds in the water after some weather. Goleta beach has been kicking out perch and short halibut. The perch have been running from ¾ to 1½ pounds and the hot bait has been the Gulp! Camo colored sandworm. The halibut are taking small plastics in smelt and anchovy patterns. Weeds have killed the hard jerk bait bite. East Beach and Carpinteria also kicking out perch. Cabezon bite still strong on the rocky beaches.

MALIBU — The perch bite continues good off Oxnard and Ventura beaches, said to Ginny Wylie at Wylie’s. The Uptown group held a derby on Saturday and Kurt Nakano took top honors with a 2.4 -pound lunker caught on a ghost shrimp off Oxnard. Most fish checked in were in the 1- to 1½-pound class. A good Krocodile bite is developing off the Chart House. Anglers throwing 5/8-ounce Krocs in prism and blue or green mackerel are scoring a mix of halibut, yellowfin, short seabass and sand bass.


REDONDO — Lots of smaller perch are biting well on south bay beaches. Anglers dragging grubs or soaking salted anchovies are scoring double digits on fish ranging from ½- to 1-pound. A few halibut starting to show along Torrance Beach. Krocodiles and soft jerk baits are getting bites. Bonito still breezing the harbor. Early mornings have been the best bet. Leopard shark bite good off El Segundo Jetty.


SEAL BEACH — The best bet has been a good barred surf perch bite. Anglers soaking Gulp! Sandworms or fishing motor oil grubs on a carolina rig have been scoring easy limits of fish to 1½ pounds. Sunset, Bolsa Chica and Surfside have been the best beaches. Bolsa Chica Inlet has been good for some better quality spotfin on ghost shrimp. The bite is a pick, but the quality has been good. A few hard core corbina anglers still scoring some big late season fish on the ghost shrimp and lugworms. Sunset and Surfside beaches and the bays have been holding. The halibut bite has been good on smaller models off Bolsa Chica.


DANA POINT — The halibut bite has been the ticket, according to Hogan’s Bait and Tackle. Doheny has been holding bait and anglers have scored several legals on Rapala X-Raps and Flash Minnows. The area off Cottons and Old Man’s has also been productive. The yellowfin croaker have been on the bite off North Beach. Clams and mussels have been the best baits. Best perch action has been off Stands and South Laguna on grubs. Early mornings have been best.


OCEANSIDE — The halibut are back on the bite ,according to Pacific Coast Bait and Tackle. The best bet has been the Ponto area. Smelt -olored swimbaits and live smelt have been working well. Perch action is improving on most beaches. Army/Navy, South Carlsbad and Torrey Pines have been good beaches to look. Carolina rigged grubs in root beer or motor oil are working well.


SOLANA BEACH — Good perch bite off Torrey Pines and Blacks Beach, according to Blue Water Tackle. Anglers are scoring easy limits on grubs, Gulp! Baits and lugworms. Still some better corbina also in the mix. Early morning tides have been best.


Compiled by Gundy Gunderson


Jim Niemiec's Blog

Central Coast turkeys doing just fine
Turkey hunters, guides and outfitters were a little concerned about the future of turkey hunting along the central coast earlier this year, but those concerns seem to not be as critical as those voiced after the spring turkey season. The drought did have a tremendous impact on the vegetation in this region along with a significant effect on most all wild game. While the spring nesting for turkey and quail was not near as productive when compared to the wet years of 2005-06, there was a very good carryover of adult toms and hens and paired up adult valley quail seem to be holding their own.

centralcoastturkeys
CENTRAL COAST TURKEYS DOING FINE — While the drought has affected lots of wild critters the turkey population in the central coast region is holding its own. This flock of hens and jennies was photographed on the Nick Ranch just to the east of the rural town of Pozo. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Western Outdoor News was invited up to check out the coastal region by Chad Wiebe, master guide of Oak Stone Outfitters based out of Bradley (Paso Robles) and spend a morning hunting for a fall gobbler.


To the east of Hwy. 101 the terrain is extremely dry and void of much in the way of any vegetation, although there was a little greening up showing along some of the roads and in those north facing canyons that are in the shade most of the day. Major highway construction on Hwy. 46, just outside of Jack's Cafe, made for a long delay as new blacktop was being spread and traffic was backed up for miles. Hopefully this gateway road to some fine hunting country will fully open soon but the prediction for completion isn't until 2017.


"Jim, you need to come up here and check out some of the ranch properties and see for yourself what's happening in this area. We got somewhere between .5 and 1.5 inches of rain over a week ago and already things are greening up. We need another shot of rain quickly to ensure that this newly sprouted grass, clover and other native vegetation will continue to grow. The storm that was expected this week is kind of petering out, but we'll take any amount of moisture right now," said Wiebe.


The stark hillsides driving into Wiebe's taxidermy studio in Bradley was a strong indicator of the lack of rain with nothing for ground cover, the ground squirrels weren't out and there wasn't the normal amount of dove setting on barbed wire fences along the road that are usually in this valley most all year long.


Wiebe was in the back of his studio along with Casey Nick, a young local boy who was in training under Wiebe to become a California licensed hunting guide by the end of the year. Young Casey was raised on a 1500 acre ranch just outside the rural town of Pozo and loves to hunt turkey. This very knowledgeable young man would be taking me out as a guest on his family's ranch in the morning.


At dinner Wiebe talked about hunting, just coming off a very successful Tule elk season, a very productive blacktail buck season. The number of hogs his clients have been shooting on some of this bigger ranch leases, the local turkey population and the fact that there are not enough ground squirrels out to make for even a marginal "ground grizzly" hunt was most of the conversation.


Wiebe had told WON in mid-summer that he might have to reduce the number of gobblers he plans to harvest during the spring season of 2015, but since then he has had an opportunity to make comp counts of flocks of turkey on this leased hunting ranches. He is much more optimistic about having plenty of long beards to successfully hunt this coming spring.


"Just about every ranch we lease has or will offer up a good spring turkey season in 2015. Right now we have a number of properties that are holding flocks of over 100 birds and the ranch you will hunt in the morning is supporting a winter population of toms, hens, jennies and jakes that number is excess of 125 birds. One reason that we will continue to hunt gobblers is that by adding new ranches every year we can manage our birds and not be forced to returning to the same property more than a couple of times during the long season. This makes for much improved hunting odds and improved chances of a turkey hunter harvesting a gobbler sporting a 10 to 12 inch beard," added Wiebe.

fallseasongobbler
FALL SEASON GOBBLER — This gobbler was shot by WON hunting editor Jim Niemiec while on a pre-Thanksgiving hunt with Oak Stone Outfitters. The big tom was in a flock of about 40 birds and had to be waited out for a clear shot. Pictured with the gobbler is Casey Nick who is an interim guide working with master guide Chad Wiebe. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

It would be an hour's drive from the bunk house to the Nick Ranch which necessitated a 3:30 a.m. departure to get to the ranch early enough to walk into a spot where Casey had roosted a flock of some 50 birds earlier in the week.


"Jim, I am not sure where these birds will head to after fly down, as they can head off in three different directions. We'll just have to play it by ear and be ready to make a move if needed," said the confident avid hunter.


In the dark, without the aid of flashlight, we moved to a spot overlooking the convergence of 3 small canyon draws. After settling in the first gobble echoed through the mix of oaks and digger pines nearly 30 minutes before fly down. I don't know if the gobble was because we moved into that spot or that it was just reacting to something else, like a car driving down the county road just a few hundred yards to the west. But everything settled down until just prior to fly down when there was an eruption of gobbles, not only coming from one side of us, but also directly in front of us and off to the left as well. Things were looking very promising as we were surrounded by gobbles!


As is the case on any turkey hunt there is no guarantee as to where the birds will go after fly down and such was the case that morning. As soon as the birds hit the ground they were very vocal and chasing each other around and around. The boss hen moved in our direction followed by a young tom sporting a 9 inch beard that looked more like a pencil than a paint brush, and another young hen. They walked right up to us, stopped at about 15 yards and the boss hen putted loudly three or four times before turning away and heading up canyon. As the shooter, I was not in position to take a shot and likely would have passed anyway due to the fact it was just a 2 year old tom.


The flock of some 40 mixed birds that were working down the hillside followed that hen moving around the hill above us and out of site. It was time to adjust my shooting position which mandated that I slowly stomach crawl for some 50 yards to top the hill and hopefully a gobbler will be shootable from a prone position.


The situation was nearly perfect with the hen leading all the rest of the turkey across an open meadow well within effective shot gun range for my Benelli model M2 12 ga. loaded with Federal Premium Turkey Loads of # 5 shot. Having to wait for the right time for a gobbler to clear the rest of the flock had my heart racing, but finally one of the toms came clear and hit the ground in a dust of feathers from a shot taken at just inside 30 yards. It was a fat 2 or 3 year old tom, that sported a 9.5 inch beard weighing just over 20 lbs., which will be enjoyed on Thanksgiving day.


After the hunt we toured the Nick Ranch and commented on the new growth of grass and clover starting to green up the property. During the drought the Nick family, who homesteaded the ranch back in the early 1900's, did a lot of work on stock ponds, dams and creeks in hopes of catching as much rain fall as possible this coming winter. The ranch looked good with lots of prime deer and quail habitat to go along with the healthy turkey population.


According to Casey, for some reason the Nick Ranch holds hens all year long and toms come from adjoining properties to breed during the spring nesting season and then return each fall to regroup, and this has been going on for many years. This ranch is mainly a working cattle ranch, raising 100 percent grass fed beef, which is a USDA organic brand. Back in the early days the ranch raised turkeys for the commercial market and there is still evidence of the old pens and the original homesteaded wood home sits just above deer camp. Obviously this region offers up ideal turkey habitat as indicated by the number of turkeys, which was infused by transplanting of


Rio Grande turkeys by the efforts of National Wild Turkey Federation and CDFW years ago.


It is not too early to think about booking a spring turkey hunt. For information on a spring turkey hunt with Oak Stone Outfitters log on to their web site at info@oakstoneoutfitters.com. While some outfitters might be cutting back or booking only return turkey hunters for next season, Wiebe plans to expand his turkey hunting opportunities with the addition of Casey as his third experienced guide.


Jonathan Roldan's Blog

Great time to visit
I have an usual method to measure the “ changing-of-the-seasons” here in La Paz. My sure-fire way to know that the warm-weather tourist season has ended is goofy, but simple.

I walk outside our Tailhunter restaurant and use the street as my measuring device.


For about eight months of the year, getting across our main street from one side to the other is an exercise in agility, patience and frustration. The long straight “malecon” that runs along the ocean-front of our city is like a mini-dragstrip. Perfect for parades. Perfect for marches. Perfect to see how fast your car accelerates.


And that’s what it’s like getting across the street. No one stops. Pedestrians beware. Cars have the right-of-way. That’s the unwritten law most of the year. There’s two kinds of folks… the” quick” and the “quicker.”


Then, about now, it changes.


The shadows get longer as the sun rises and sets at a lower angle. The bay gets breezier. And, for some reason, people and drivers slow down. In fact, there’s just less people. And using my “measuring stick” of a street, I can cross at leisure. As many times as I want. I can even stand in the middle of the street and take photos. Ho-hum....


Where’d everyone go?


About this time, except for the influx of snowbirds, tourism just slows down. There will be a spike for the holidays like Christmas, but for many areas, from November to March, Baja changes from the “land of mañana” to “the land of maybe not even mañana… maybe the — day-after-mañana.”


But, it’s a great time to come down.


Depending on your perspective, winter in Baja is either warmer or cooler!


It’s surely cooler than April to October when the legendary Baja heat sends visitors cranking on their hotel air-conditioning units or spending their waking hours at the poolside swim-up bar. Humidity is nil. Daytime air temps in the 80s are more the norm. You might even use a blanket at night. It might actually be a good idea to pack a pair of jeans or slacks and a sweatshirt! Some areas of Baja actually get “cold” by Baja standards and frost is not uncommon and you’ll see us locals in down jackets and watch caps.


Conversely, if you’re from say… the Pacific Northwest… Canada… the East Coast… you’ll find the winter months to be head-and-shoulders over shoveling snow or drying out from rain.


You’ll get a grin watching us residents “bundle up” while you saunter down the marina or beach in shorts and send Instagram selfies to your envious neighbors back home while holding icy margaritas. Bargaining for silver jewelry for your wife beats crawling under your car to put on snow chains.


Further, as I alluded to above, crowds are down.


Be the only ones in a restaurant. The hotel staff call you by name. The bartender remembers your favorite drink. No lines for attractions.


Actually find a beach where you’re not dodging beach balls or forced to listen to someone else’s obnoxious boom box. Walk downtown and around town and sit and watch and listen, immerse and discover without a time-share or t-shirt sale dogging your every move.


If you plan to fish, winter-time fishing might put a whole different spin on Baja fishing for you. Cooler waters and perhaps windier conditions might predicate completely different types of fishing for you. Winter or inshore species you hadn’t considered like yellowtail, pargo, cabrilla, amberjack and others will surprise you. Shoreline fishing and beach fishing can produce sierra, rooster fish, jack crevalle and pompano and perch.


And there’s a good chance the waters won’t be crowded and the shorelines will be deserted!


And there’s that aspect again… just not many folks around.


And that’s good. There’s opportunities for bargains and deals. Taxi drivers need fares! Negotiate to have a personal driver for all your days. Or negotiate for a better deal with the rental car agents who all work on commissions.


Restaurants, eager for patrons have deals on drinks and food. Many of the smaller hotels, and oftentimes the most charming, will often negotiate as well, especially if it’s off-line and person-to-person. Ask for a deal on an extra night or two! All they can say is “no.”


Same with tourist vendors. Alway wanted to try snorkeling? Want to do that glass-bottom boat thing? Want some horseback riding or try that off-road ATV? Ask for a deal. Winter is the perfect time.


Bottom line is that often you’ll see a whole different side of Baja and Mexico during the winter months. Even for frequent visitors who usually only show up during the peak warmer months, they find a completely different complexion to their favorite Baja locations this time of year. For many it becomes a favorite. And a hidden secret they sometimes aren’t eager to share lest the crowds come back!



Merit McCrea's Blog

PFMC sets a 2-fish bluefin limit, sculpin season
Monday evening I rolled in to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) meeting in Costa Mesa. I slid into the room where the Groundfish Advisory Pannel (GAP) meeting was just wrapping up and met with GAP member Capt. Louie Zimm, a friend, retired research vessel skipper and avid anger. We were there to get the scoop on the bluefin tuna limit outcome. It had been slated for a final vote by the council that day. And we wanted to hear about the sculpin decision regarding the season.

Zimm had the scoop on both, and later joining us was PFMC member Capt. Buzz Brizendine of the San Diego-based Prowler, who had been at the table for the final bluefin vote. The sportfishing industry folks at the table were looking for a 3- fish limit, while various conservation groups advocated no take or a 1-fish limit.


Here, it’s important to remember that the PFMC was initially envisioned as a venue to get fishing industry representatives, concerned public and fisheries scientists together in an effort to make informed management recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The basic idea was getting everyone into the same room would promote decisions on the basis of mutual long-term sustainability, instead of individual short-term benefit.


More recently environmental interests demanded a seat at the table, too. They felt that their interests in the value of nature for nature’s sake were being overlooked, the oceans’ living resources were being managed only to maximize long-term fisheries production and its allocation among the fishing interests.


That is the basic allocation-based core of the continuing friction between ocean “enviros” and fishers today, and it continues to cause discord even where we have common goals like fisheries sustainability.


The basic need for reducing the U.S. bluefin sport limit was not so much to conserve tuna. We only take a tiny fraction of the catch. It was to reassure those who take most of the tuna, Mexico and Japan, any much-needed conservation efforts we could persuade them to adopt wouldn’t be simply scooped up by us. It was something the U.S. needed to do before putting as much pressure as we could on others to hold back on their huge harvest. They need to allow the number of spawning aged tuna to recover from their current extremely low level. (The recent abundance we’ve had here consists of just pre-spawning aged fish.)


Brizendine, sport fishing representative to the Council said that after winning an initial push for a 3-fish limit it became clear it would come with some “strings attached,” necessary to make sure our take would not increase.


With the 3-fish limit came a litany of complex regulations that I couldn’t even begin to follow completely. It included regional differences and seasonality, a smaller limit during some times in some areas, a schedule for ramping down the daily limit if the total catch started to approach a pre-determined maximum and so forth.


Given recent catch rates, a 3-fish limit would have resulted in a 17 percent reduction in catch. However, if the bite continued to improve there could be problems restraining the catch to current levels. The scariest “string” was a possible mid-season complete shutdown in 2016.


That sent 3-fish advocates back to the drawing board. A simple across-the-board 2-fish limit provided enough of a safety margin that the “strings” weren’t needed. Brizendine related that with sportfishing interests at the table now solidly behind the simple 2-fish limit California DFW spokesperson Marci Yaremko proposed the 2-fish limit, Brizendine seconded and it went to vote, easily passing.


The U.S. commercial allocation of bluefish was set at 300 metric tons (mt), with 250 mt under the “directed fishery,” and a 50 mt buffer as incidental take in other fisheries.


On the sculpin front, Zimm said there were a couple of big issues this year that needed fixing. The first and foremost was that a boom in twilight boat catch rates of these fish had precipitated having taken 115 mt of the 117 mt annual catch limit (ACL) before it was even realized.


But in addition to that, only 87 mt or so had been allocated to sport and we had sucked up many tons of the commercial allocation. Fortunately the commercial harvest was far below their allocation for the year, avoiding a potentially painful conflict.


Zimm said the GAP had passed forward a sportfishing supported closure period choice of September through the end of December for next year. This morning he texted, the PFMC did vote on and pass this GAP recommendation.


The increase of the depth for rockfishing to the PFMC 60-fathom line and the increase of the lingcod limit to 3 for SoCal was still in the federal regulatory process. It appears that although the changes may not be done in time for a January 1 rollout, we were still on track for them to be on the books in time for the March 1 rockfish opener.


As a final note to those who still insist sportfishing shouldn’t count in fisheries management, you can’t hurt the resource by it; remember, just because you yourself can’t physically load that last straw on the camel’s back, doesn’t mean the 50 pounds you added earlier weren’t part of the problem. A dead fish counts the same no matter how it’s caught.


* * *

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.


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