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Brandon Hayward's Blog

WONews Column by Brandon Hayward

Brandon Hayward is the saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. He is on his second issuance of a 100-ton Master’s License from the United States Coast Guard; Hayward spent over 1,000 days working on San Diego sportboats like the Excel, Pacific Queen, First String and Producer before starting his career as an outdoor writer/editor.

“It’s great to share information with anglers that helps them catch more fish and enjoy their time on the water more,” notes Hayward, who ranks cow-sized yellowfin and big white seabass as his favorite targets.  

Hayward is the author of The Southern California Angler. The book is a how-to guide on Southern California sportfishing. It had three printings before selling out in the fall of 2010. Hayward's new book is Getting Bit, a follow up to The Southern California Angler.  It can be ordered under the store tab. 

Full Circle
It was in the 1993 archives after all. 

My first yellowtail and white seabass influenced me in so many ways; the final words that started on that overnight trip on the Toronado are in this week's white seabass supplement, which, fittingly, is my last supplement as saltwater editor. From a 13-year-old kid to a 33-year-old with a kid, is the white seabass supplement this week the definition of full circle? Or just life being an incredible journey? Let's agree on both. 

My editor, Pat McDonell, honored me with words that pulled at my heartstrings on his blog, and in the paper this week, so I'll let his words tell the backstory. I'll always be indebted to him for taking the quasi On-the-Spot I wrote on a trip that involved yellowtail kingfish, New Zealand, a Gold Coast girl named Aya, driving a motor home through fjords, cans of Lion Red, red wine and high country brown trout and deciding that the words were good enough to take a shot with me. 

The relationship with the readers and writing the Tackle Room and this blog will be missed. Thanks for taking the time to read my words, be it electronically, living on newsprint or on that slick book stock. 

(Is this where I am supposed to put use quotation marks and say "calm seas..." or "tight lines..." or "'til the next tide..."?) 

Let's just say it is time to live out the words in that first caption and find some squid eaters. 
Ready to get blown away?
Guess what? 

This first real spring wind is hootin' through the SoCal Bight. It looks like today and tomorrow are a total blow out. But will the cold gusts from the dreaded northwest wipe out the slowly building conditions that were setting up? Probably. 

But there hasn't been any solid prospects, exotic wise, to go with the condish, save for the yellowtail at Coronados that have no problem proving they are willing to bite after a few down days. The fishing has been about what early spring are always about: rockfish. 

The grade has been simply incredible up and down the coast. Here's a shot from the Redondo Special, which has been finding an incredible grade on the reds on the edge of the Redondo Canyon. Pictured is Mathias Bender and Redondo Special deckhand Mark Zagha. 

On the seabass front, it hasn't got going yet. There was a fish caught at Catalina, all 32 inches of one for the Afishinado Charters trips. The rumors have been wicked, especially along the beach, with the most recent being that the Options scored three tankers above Salt Creek. It's total rumor. I talked to Options skipper Wes Flesch Thursday night, even gave him some loose numbers to get his goof-off going; he was shocked to hear that he had thrown on 3 fish in front of a skiff. And no, he didn't get a ticket for fishing in the Laguna closure. 

Everyone is hungry and wants to get some. Three seasons and a lot of talk around this fishery that got pioneered the last three years will do that. And apparently someone wrote what is essentially a coastal white seabass book, sans GPS numbers? But it talks about the why and how, not the where? What? No where? 

But so far, Easter Sunday was the last time a fish was caught, incidentally in the kelp by a Dana Point bass guy on a sardine, not on a bird school. From that one fish, the rumor mill churned out a lot of rubbish. 

But, just like any April, there are some nice fish getting speared. And there are some schools around, below is the last shot I got on my meter before selling the Arima. 

Just a ball of seabass from the bottom on up 20 feet off the bottom. We hooked one. We lost one. The fish kept going. I set back up on the same spot, chasing the tide and hoping for another swim through would meet the squids on the hooks. The fish never came through, but then again neither did the set of conditions to get bit at this spot where only a handful have success. 

What, a no blog?
Please excuse the lack of blogging, especially after the blog, blog, blog run of 2012. 

After doing the calls and reports on Easter Sunday it's vacation time, time to spend time with my son while my wife finishes up her last quarter of grad school, and charge the batteries before the season gets rolling, for real. 

The up-and-down yellowtail fishing is due to pop back up. But overall, it's all rockfish, all the time. But since we actually had a bit of a March for once--oh to have one more night on those big local seabass--why can't April do the same? 

Frontside of Clemente yellowtail, anyone? Anchoring up on a ridge or any stock Coronodos spot before the masses show, maybe? Oh wait, that involves trying... the current trend is that everyone goes off reports, but there's not enough of a fleet trying, outside of the Coronados, to generate reports, outside rockfish. 

So who knows what's really where? 

But the few to show up at the Coronados early have reported that the yellowtail, when they bite, have been doing so right on schedule with the three-quarter days showing up. 

A pre-weekend blog
It's the first week of spring and there's some exotics to work with for the masses. Hallelujah. (And my day that started with a 3:58 a.m. writing session and will end with Bart Hall's 8 p.m. "The show is now closed" voice was just made by spelling hallelujah without any red lines under it.) 

The show was certainly classic Del Mar yesterday: a slow trickle of people that had its moments where the single-file crowd streamed in and out. Del Mar, despite being mellow, so so mellow, is fun. Mainly because it offers time to actually have a conversation with readers and industry folk, versus the bustle of Long Beach. This is, after all, an industry about people and relationships. The examples are endless... 

Squid and seabass and local yellowtail are always the focal point of conversations, and last night wasn't an exception. A couple of guys asked about squid and all the "where?" questions, which is cool. They brought up the light boats, finding the light boats, and getting the bait. 

Fishing around light boats is like bluffing in poker: way overrated. It's a tool to have in the bag, no doubt, but it's not what the games are about. In fact, if both were scrubbed from the games most people would be bigger winners at the end of the year. 

The big day that the Malihini and San Diego had at the Coronados was the big topic; yes, we are getting that classic spring style of islands fishing. The stuff isn't all on the yo-yo, as the flyline and surface iron got lots of bites on the new area of fish that has been from South Island on down. Don't let the local yellowtail fishing get lost in the fray. Brian Castleton on the New Seaforth let me know yesterday that they found some yellows on the morning run, scoring one big yellow before time ran out; then in the afternoon five of the big yellows hit the deck. The boat is one of the few that does two half-day trips daily. Seaforth Sportfishing is the place. 

It's shaping up how old time San Diego skippers would have predicted it a week ago: the yellows that were racing around from North Island to Genoa (a rock in the Middle Grounds) started showing less and less volume every time they slid back down. Some of it squirted up--and the New Seaforth got on it. And there's fresh schools pushing in. 

Classic set up! Del Mar one day, the islands the next. It sounds like the way the first weekend of spring is meant to be spent in San Diego. 

Bringing in spring
Well, winter went by pretty fast, eh? 

The optimist in me is thinking this is going to be a great spring, that big things are going to happen heading towards the next full moon. Maybe not at Catalina—56 degree water, almost zero squid signal—but the coast is prime (59 to 60 yesterday along the South Coast) and the Coronados might be staging for something great after the down day yesterday. There’s squid filtering in. Wouldn’t it be fun to get some squid grounds yo-yo action at the islands? Oh wait, that’s what been going on. The San Diego only got 15 people to jump on today after yesterday’s tough fishing that was the first skunker in over a week. And the “Let’s just go and hope for the best” anglers on the rig today had been rewarded with 10 of the yellows by lunch today. 

Barracuda are probably over a month away still; Mother’s Day (May 12 this year) weekend  has been the kick off day for ‘cuda the last three years. It looks like yellowtail at the Coronados and probably La Jolla next will bring in the spring. And then of course the coastal seabass buzz has been high, especially for this early in the season. 

So long as it doesn’t blow and upwell, there’s going to be some big seabass picked. 

And then there’s rockfish. It’s good, and it’s mostly all quality. Even not having live baits hasn’t hurt the Channel Islands bite. It's just limit, limits, limits. 

And that’s about it. For now. Oh, and I’m selling my skiff; plan is to use a bud’s Stringari for my small boating. If you want to pick up the coolest 17-foot Arima on earth, give me a call (949) 212-0719. 

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