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Chris Dunn - The Fishing Weatherman

The Fishing Weatherman Report for March 5, 2015
Great rockfishing! Yellows along the coast.

Here's this week's coastal weather forecast...

Jonathan Roldan's Blog

Yes you can…maybe!
Admit it. At least once…probably more than once…maybe even several times today, you said to yourself, “I’m gonna blow this place and just move to Mexico!”

Or, you’ve entertained thoughts of simply leaving no trail and vanishing into the Baja to put your toes in the sand; a cold one in your hand and create your own Corona Beer commercial. C’mon. You know you have!

The grass is always greener on the other side. Heck, I’ve lived in Baja almost 20 years and there’s times when even I get fed up and say, “I’m done with this. I want In-N-Out burgers; push-button convenience; and roads that don’t puncture my tires and wreck my suspension.”

But seriously, Baja is high on the “leave-it-all-behind” list. In fact as a whole, Mexico is the No. 1 vacation and retirement destination for Americans. Some have a plan. Some don’t. Some just wing it.

I once met a guy. He was in construction and got crushed in the latest economic fubar a few years back. Frustrated with trying to stay ahead of the game. Decided he’d had it and was going to make his own game.

Sold what was left of his business. Bought a big RV and tied his boat to the back of it. Strapped his surfboards on the roof and came south. No forwarding address.

Last I heard, he was living on the beach south of La Paz on the Pacific side. I won’t tell you where. He actually had a girlfriend come looking for him once who looked me up hoping to locate him. It wasn’t like I had an address or he had a phone.

He had built a little palapa over his RV. He was teaching surfing lessons. He had built a little public shower out of old pallets and bamboo and PVC tubes. Fifty cents for 10 minutes of hot water. Discounts on shower time if brought him a 6 pack of beer!

There was another guy many years ago. His family came down looking for him. His wife had passed. His kids were grown and off doing their own thing. He hadn’t had much contact with them. His exit was a little more dramatic.

All he said was, “I’m driving to Baja.” His family didn’t think much of it. He was retired and was a travelling kind of guy. But, as a former executive, he at least kept in touch with folks.

After five weeks, no one had heard from him.

They came into La Paz putting up “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?” posters everywhere. It had a fuzzy black and white photo of a smiling guy on an ATV named “Bradley” from Phoenix.

They had been up and down the Baja hanging posters searching for him. As I watched them put one up in front of our offices, I could see the angst, frustration and fatigue. They told me the story. All I could say was that I’d keep my eye out.

Several days later, I happened to be out on the sidewalk and saw a tall scruffy bearded guy in cargo shorts and sandals looking intently at the photo. He saw me looking. He looked back and smiled. I raised an eyebrow at him. You?

He raised a knowing-eyebrow back. Looked back at the faded flyer. Smiled a crooked smile and kept on walking. Hmmm….

Similarly, I’ve run into others who only go “by first name only please!” Or have openly told me they don’t want their photos taken or “I haven’t used my real name in years, and I like it that way.”

Usually said with a laugh. But, they are serious. They have disappeared into the “frontera” (frontier) of the Baja.

Some folks just don’t want to be found. They have their reasons. Some are being chased…family, wife, kids, the IRS. Or not. Others come to chase something else. A vision. A dream. Themselves. Everyone has demons and angels.

I haven’t quite figured out my own motivations for 20 years in Baja myself. I’m still working on it!

The stories can continue. Yes, it can be done. And many do it.

But, most aren’t quite so dramatic or abrupt.

But, before you put out the “closed” sign on your business; bid adios to the U.S.A. and just sail, drive or surf into the Baja sunset, think first.

Don’t crack that beer just yet without some due diligence and a well-thought out exit strategy.

I guess the most important thing. Figure out how you’re gonna eat. As good as beans, tortillas and cerveza were on your vacation, it gets old after awhile. And dorado fillets don’t just jump into your refrigerator.

If you’re not bringing a coffee can full of cash, then it would be a good idea to figure out a source of income.

That means Mexican bank accounts and well, perhaps all the things you were trying to get away from in the first place. Because, you need documents, documents, documents…starting with a passport…immigration forms…and that’s just to start.

If you hated bureaucracy (bureau-CRAZY) in the states, just wait until you get a taste of the Mexican version which is even doubly-mind-boggling, if you’re a gringo.

So much for disappearing because now you’re back “in the system. “ And then there might be taxes to pay. So, you hate the IRS? You may have to now pay taxes in TWO countries.

And don’t forget if you start buying things, like land; a home; a car (with driver’s license of course!) and other things. You’re leaving a trail.

So many have the impression that it’s “looser” in Mexico, but like anywhere else, there’s criminal laws, labor laws, civil laws; property laws, immigration laws etc. And like anywhere else you respect the law.

Compliance isn’t optional. And the last thing you ever want to do is run afoul of Mexican law.

If none of that matters to you and nothing I’ve written has discouraged you, then come ahead! There’s a sandy beach, blue water, the friendliest folks and a lifestyle unlike anything imaginable waiting for you! I’ll buy the first beer. See you down here!

Merit McCrea's Blog

Support CCA, Join
The Hall show, artificial reefs and the CCA


Artificial reefs. They work, and we’ll discuss that in a minute, and without question we need more of them, but how can the angling community get behind building artificial reefs and fjord the ever- increasing regulatory impediments to getting permission? 

The answer is having a unified voice politically, and having a vehicle to fund artificial reef building financially! It starts this week at the Long Beach Fred Hall show that starts tomorrow, Wednesday, and runs through Sunday.

The new California chapter of the nationally recognized Coastal Conservation Association is going to be a big part of the 5-day show and friom where I sit, it provides that voice and vehicle, but it needs your support, your membership. Artificial reef building is just one of many projects that the CCA chapters of other states list in their accomplishments. I am a board member among many people dedicated to getting the CCA uop and running, funded, focused and effective. We can’t do it without everyone pitching in. The building of artificial reefs will be a cornerstone of what CCA-California looks to accomplish.

Our California chapter is already honed in on supporting the ocean stocking program of California’s Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program. This not only stocks fingerling seabass but provides a great way for individuals to participate, to give back to our coastal waters by volunteering within the network of white seabass grow-out programs.

What’s more, ocean stocking of fish makes sure that our coastal ocean waters explicitly meet ALL parameters described in Article 1, the Declaration of Rights, section 25, of the California Constitution.

Section 25 gives the people the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof. It prevents these tidelands from being transferred out of public ownership without reserving the public’s right to fish there. It also prevents local agencies from making laws that prevent the public’s access to fish any waters stocked by the State.

Don’t forget to join at the door for the Fred Hall show! For donating $20 extra, you will get free admission and a benefit package worth well over $150 in discounts at fellow CCA member’s exhibitor booths and raffle tickets.

But back to artificial reefs and their effectiveness. One of the key outcomes of the Marin Life Protection Act Initiative sponsored habitat mapping effort was the scientifically validated observation that rocky, especially high relief, reef habitat was extremely rare along our mainland coast.

The intentionally placed artificial reefs in our area are mostly very small, a few scattered bits here and there. In fact the biggest “artificial reefs” are unintentional, the rock revetment on pipelines, breakwaters, oil platforms and other coastal debris remaining from old oil piers.

One artificial reef, Wheeler North Reef, located just south of San Clemente Pier is quite large, covering 175 acres. However, it is a low-profile single-layer reef. Its intent was to provide a large area of kelp coverage, which it does. However, it does not hold the high densities of fish a more complex, high-relief structure would.

Aside from Wheeler North Reef, only the oil platforms were much studied. We at the Love Lab did the majority of that platform work. Our work was commissioned by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in order to inform decision makers regarding the best ultimate fate for decommissioned oil platforms. Historically, complete removal was a legal requirement.

Among other things, we discovered that the 27 platforms were contributing an additional 20+ percent to the annual rockfish recruitment, Bight-wide! That’s pretty astounding for the very small area they comprise. We think their outstanding rockfish production stems from their being out in open water, extending high into the water column.

In October of 2010 the Rigs to Reefs bill passed, finally allowing for the option to decommission and reef old platforms when their service life had ended.

The granddaddy “artificial reef” of them all in SoCal. is the LA/Long Beach breakwater system. It’s basically a hollow, high relief structure extending from 10 fathoms deep, clear to the surface, and running for miles. Its contribution to our fisheries has not been assessed.

In my estimation the most valuable artificial reef system to SoCal’s. sport-angler is Izor’s. The number of angler hours spent at that tiny set of reefs, as a percentage of the total spent fishing the LA/LB Shelf area must be astounding.

Academically, the biggest artificial reef debate revolves around the “Production vs. Attraction” dilemma. Do they produce, or merely attract fish? The answer must certainly vary reef by reef and have to do with the level of fishing effort more than anything else.

The biggest problem for reef proponents politically is the promotion of the view that mere attraction is bad because over-fishing the reef can drain the entire local ecosystem of fish. But even if an artificial reef were populated primarily by attraction, that itself is not necessarily a bad thing.

Even if all that building a given artificial reef does is create a good fishing spot, isn’t that a positive outcome? The key is managing the entire local ecosystem surrounding the reef sustainably, and not abusing the enhanced fishing opportunity provided by the artificial reef.

From what I have seen Izor’s does both. It both produces more fish than there would otherwise be, and concentrates them, creating some great local fishing.

Again, if you are ging to the Long Beach or Del Mar shows, don’t forget to join for $30 at the door For donating $20 extra, you will get free admission and a benefit package worth well over $150 in discounts at fellow CCA member’s exhibitor booths and raffle tickets.

The Coast could use a whole lot more “Izors”! It’s pretty sad when the best ½-day fishing in many areas comes as result of city sewer construction. Who wants to have to admit their best local spot is the rock-pile holding down the local sewer pipe?

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:

A LOT MORE than just the fish we fish for benefit from artificial reefs, including this garibaldi, the California state marine fish, and all the other stuff growing here on platform Edith. Of course the big goat in the background is a welcome resident, too.

Carrie Wilson's Blog

A right to fish
Question: If I am in need of food for myself and family, would it be a crime to catch fish from the ocean for subsistence without a license, and if so, why? With inland waters I realize that lakes are stocked, policed and maintained and this service has to be paid for via taxes, licenses and fines. That’s understandable.I am aware of states with coastlines having a mileage limit from shore to international waters, and the area in between is overseen by the Coast Guard. Should it not be a God-given right to fish the oceans and seas of this planet without permission from the powers that be? (Doug P.)

KEN ODA FISHING on San Gregorio Beach, south of Half Moon Bay. PHOTO BY AMANDA MENEFEE

Answer: In California you can legally fish from public ocean piers without a fishing license. Finfish, crabs and lobsters may be found there in different areas. All regulations must still be followed but you can fish without a fishing license in these locations only. There are also two free fishing days per year (July 4 and Sept. 5 this year), allowing people to fish in ocean and inland waters without a license on those two designated days. In addition, any children in your family can fish without a license and be entitled to legal limits until they turn 16, when a license will be required. Except for the opportunities mentioned above, subsistence fishing without a sport fishing license in ocean or freshwater is not allowed.

California waters extend from the shore (high tide line) out to three miles, federal waters stretch from three miles to 200 miles and international waters begin at 200 miles out. All waters out to 200 miles are still patrolled and managed cooperatively with the federal government. Any fish taken outside of 200 miles must still meet all fishing regulations in order to be brought back into U.S. waters, and all fish landed at California ports must additionally meet all California regulations.

Fisheries in all state and federal waters have regulations and many have strict management guidelines to properly manage the take of various species to assure overfishing does not occur which could collapse those and related fisheries. Regulations and limitations of fishing activities and take is imperative, especially in waters of a state populated by 38 million people.

Scouting for abalone out of season?

Question: I belong to a small group of diving enthusiasts and we recently had a debate come up where there are varying opinions on the subject of gauging abalone. One portion of the group is stating that it is perfectly legal to freedive with an abalone gauge out of season and measure abalone with the intent of coming back during the season to retrieve the abs. I believe this would be pursuing or hunting abalone and would be against the rules. I pointed out that the new 8 a.m. rule specifically states you can enter the water but not "be searching for" abalone prior to 8 a.m. This leads me to believe if it is illegal to search for abs during a time when "take" is not permitted, then it would be illegal out of season as well. Can you help us settle this debate? (Brian M., Antioch)

Answer: Yes, it would be legal to dive with an abalone gauge as long as you don't dive with an abalone iron or other means to detach abalone. As long as there is no attempt to take the abalone, and it is not handled or detached from the rocks, it would be legal.

Driving at night with flashlights to view wildlife?

Question: My wife and I are outdoors lovers and we don’t want to break the law. We often drive back roads or dirt roads in and around Butte County armed with only a flashlight and no weapons to view and enjoy wildlife that wouldn’t be possible to enjoy in the daylight. Is this legal? (Dan, Oroville)

Answer: Yes, as long as you do not have a method of take with you. You may, however, attract the attention of wildlife officers that are on the lookout for poachers using spotlights to find game. These officers may pull you over and detain you to inspect your vehicle to ensure you do not have a method of take. There are also some vehicle code provisions that prohibit the use of a flashlight or headlight on a public highway if it is shone into oncoming traffic or prevents other vehicles from seeing traffic control devices.

Treble hooks for halibut?

Question: I’m planning to go fishing for halibut and have read that the rig must not exceed two hooks. Can those two hooks be treble hooks?

Answer: Yes, you are not limited to two hooks and so treble hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at

Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Anglers anxious to fish for rockfish March 1 in U.S. Waters
Bluefin tuna were around and biting last weekend for boats fishing the Cortes Bank and there was a mix of large bonito and what were mostly firecracker sized yellowtail biting to go with the bluefin tuna. The bluefin counts for boats on 1.5 day trips were off from what they had been in recent weeks with most of the bluefin counts being reported being in the single digits.

The water temperature out by the Cortes Bank has been running from 61.5 to 62.5 degrees the past couple of weeks. There is a weather system coming through Southern California this weekend with 24 knot winds being reported out a the Tanner Bank Buoy on Friday afternoon as this report is being prepared. My thought would be that if the water were to roll to where the water temperature dropped much more that the bluefin would likely leave. The water temperature has held in there rather well throughout the winter this far, let's hope it does not drop any further as a result of the forecasted weather system.

The bluefin have been good sized fish in the 15- to 30-pound range and the bonito have been the larger sized fish that have been in the 6 to 14 pound range. The yellowtail tend to be the smaller fish with most going 4 to 6 pounds.

Look for the possibility of locating bluefin while fishing around the high spots at both the Cortes and Tanner Banks with the area of the 9 Fathom Spot at the Cortes Bank generally being the best. It has been good practice to fish to the down current side of whatever high spot you are trying while fishing in 30 to 50 fathoms of water.

Light line, small hooks and fluorocarbon leaders have been the best way to go to draw strikes from the bluefin tuna as they have been wary biters. Good setups for fishing with live bait have been to use outfits with 40- pound-test spectra main line and a 30 foot leader of either 15- or 20-pound test fluorocarbon. Bringing one outfit rigged with a 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader and one outfit rigged with a 15 pound test fluorocarbon leader has been a good idea as it allows you to start fishing with the 20 pound test outfit and also allows you to be able to quickly change to the 15 pound test outfit if the bluefin are not biting the 20 pound setup.

Using a small hook relative to the size of your bait has also been helpful in drawing strikes from the bluefin. A size 1/0, 1 or 2 live bait hook compliments the stealth trying to be achieved by using the light line. Which size hook you choose should depend on the size of the sardines you have in the tank and how touchy the bluefin are acting on any given day.

Boats fishing Southern California coastal waters have seen the yellowtail bite turn scratchy with slow yellowtail fishing being reported during the week. What has been productive has been the fishing for calico bass which has been good at a lot of the kelp bed areas along the San Diego County coast. Productive kelp bed areas have been reported off San Onofre, the Barn, Leucadia, Solana Beach, Del Mar, the lower end of La Jolla, Point Loma College and the Green Tank. Sardines have been working for the calico bass and there have been times when the calicos have also been reported to be biting on surface iron and plastics.

Halibut have become more active for boats fishing coastal waters with reports from the San Diego region being of halibut biting for boats fishing sandy bottom areas that are adjacent to hard bottom and structure spots off Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Imperial Beach.

Private boater Harry Okuda of the Alfresco III was a guest of private boater Clay Darrow of the Orca on a half day trip targeting halibut on Tuesday and he reported about the trip. Okuda said that he caught two legal sized halibut with his big fish weighing in at 10.8 pounds. He said that Darrow hooked a halibut that was considerably larger than his 10.8 pound fish but unfortunately, Darrow's larger sized halibut was lost. Their best fishing was found while fishing a short way below the Imperial Beach Pier in 35 feet of water.

The rockfish closure on the California/United States side of the Mexican border comes to an end for Southern California anglers on Sunday, March 1, 2015. There is always some excitement that builds up in anticipation of dropping baits down to rockfish areas that have not been fished for a couple of months and this year should be no exception. Weather permitting, there will likely be a lot of anglers out sampling the fishing at the various rockfish areas come opening day.

With the yellowtail bite along the coast turning slow, the Coronado Islands have been fished more for yellowtail lately and the fishing at the Coronados has been good for a mix of yellowtail, bonito and assorted rockfish.

Some counts from Thursday's fishing start with the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had a 3/4 day trip with 25 anglers catch 64 yellowtail, 44 rockfish, 7 bonito and 1 lingcod.

Point Loma Sportfishing had a 3/4 day trip on the Point Loma with 19 anglers catch 42 yellowtail, 2 bonito and 1 lingcod. They also had the Grande out on a 3/4 day trip with 9 anglers that caught 16 yellowtail.

H&M Landing had a 3/4 day trip on the Fisherman III where 13 anglers caught 1 yellowtail, 1 sheephead, 5 sculpin, 58 rockfish, 6 lingcod, 14 bonito and 13 salmon grouper. The Premier did a half-day trip out by the Coronados that was primarily targeting rockfish at spots like the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island and they had 24 anglers catch 3 sculpin, 220 rockfish, 1 lingcod and 1 yellowtail.

Private boater, Captain Bob Fletcher of the Fletch reported fishing the Coronados on Tuesday with Captain Ryan Bostian aboard Bostian's sportboat San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing. Fletcher reported that they had a fun trip in having 20 anglers catch 13 yellowtail, 3 rockfish, 1 lingcod and 5 bonito. He said that they had a lot more yellowtail action than what the fish count might indicate but that they lost a lot of yellowtail hookups to aggressive seals. Fletcher reported hooking 2 yellowtail during the trip and said that he caught one and lost the second hookup to a seal. Even the yellowtail he boated had been grabbed by a seal for a brief moment during the hookup. His yellowtail hookups came on a yo-yoed Salas 6X Jr. jig in scrambled egg color and on a sardine that was fished on a dropper loop rig.

Most of the yellowtail action at the Coronados has been coming by stopping on meter marks found with scanning sonar or with a traditional fathometer. The boats with scanning sonar have a big advantage over the boats with a traditional fathometer with this type of fishing. Once located, the best bet has been to fish the yellowtail with yo-yoed iron or a sardine on a dropper loop rig. The Coronado Islands yellowtail have been mixed size fish that have ranged from 6 to 25 pounds.

The best areas for yellowtail around the Coronados have been the South Kelp Ridge, the 5 Minute Kelp, the area ranging from inside of the north end of South Island over to where you are inside of the Middle Grounds, the Middle Grounds proper and the hard bottom into the north of North Island. The two best of those spots as this report is being prepared are the Middle Grounds and the South Kelp Ridge.

Reports have been few from San Clemente Island with very few boats out fishing but there have also been some yellowtail biting out at San Clemente Island during the past couple of weeks. On the back side of the Island try the hard bottom ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove and also try the boiler rocks inside Pyramid Cove. On the front side of the Island, try Purse Seine Rock and White Rock.

Boats fishing 1.5 day trips down the Mexican coast to the Punta Colnett area continue to find excellent fishing for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, salmon grouper and lingcod. The quality size of the fish being caught continues to be very good with most of the yellowtail being in the 18 to 30 pound class, the lingcod going to 20+ pounds and with a lot of quality sized reds and salmon grouper biting within the mixture of assorted rockfish. The best bets for the yellowtail have been using yo-yoed iron or using a sardine that is fished on a dropper loop rig. Good choices for yo-yo iron have been Salas 6X and 7X heavy jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg or mint colors.

As an example of the fishing in the Punta Colnett region, H&M Landing had a recent 1.5 day trip aboard the Chief return with 35 anglers catching 70 yellowtail and 175 rock cod.

Seaforth Sportfishing had the Eclipse fishing a recent 1.5 day trip that had 28 anglers catch 125 yellowtail, 25 lingcod and 25 rockfish. Seaforth also had the Aztec fishing 1.5 day trip with 28 anglers that caught 140 yellowtail and 140 rockfish.

Remember it is still winter despite the spring like fishing that is going on. Choose your days out on the water wisely with regard to the weather conditions and enjoy the fine fishing we are having.

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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 . 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.

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