friends, Bob Hoose and Jimmy Decker of
Berkley, worked the show at Del Mar this week and Jimmy brought his boat down
from Newport so he could fish in the morning before the Fred Hall doors opened
to the public.
He called Thursday afternoon to say he fished that morning and the
bite was wide open on small calicos off La Jolla. “Let’s meet at Dana Landing
at 6:30,” he said.
A choppy swell ran down the entrance to Mission Bay, but by
the time we got to the south La Jolla kelp Jimmy was actually hoping for some
wind to push us through the kelp loaded with birds, both diving and sitting.
His first few casts with a 7-inch Berkley camo Jerk Shad produced a few bass,
but just as soon small barries moved in. It took a move right into the kelp to
get more action, but that came when a switch to WAR heads got a couple of the
baits close to the bottom.
The WAR Head with a Berkley Gulp! 7-inch Jerk Shad got deep for this calico bass for Jimmy Decker.
But then the breeze kicked in out of the west and the best
bet was the jerk shad fished on Owner’s Sled Head. This Owner jig head has
their patented Twist-Lock screw at the base of the bullet-shaped head and an
oversized hook that buries just perfectly into the Gulp! in a weedless
presentation that let Decker, Hoose and this reporter cast in any direction
without regard to the kelp.
In fact, it was best to disregard the open lanes and fish
the Jerk Shad over kelp into the open pockets. Either dropping the bait on the
sink or giving it the “tap, tap, tap”
that Decker recommended not only produced a lot of bites, but produced plenty of
“The only thing you don’t want to do is just wind it
straight in,” said Decker of the Jerk Shad technique.
While the calicos were willing to slurp the bait as it slid
off the kelp, they were not willing to romp on the surface iron or blow up on
the big MC Slug. The water was up to 63 degrees in areas, but they just weren’t
really ready to rock and roll, I guess.
I do know that when we found the schools of bass, double
hook-ups were not uncommon and it was “like fishing in an aquarium,” as Decker
put it, the way you could look down into holes in the kelp and see the snouts
of calicos poking out of the strands.
The best bet for lots of action was the Gulp! Jerk Shad fished weedless with the Owner Sled Head jig head. The fish would hit when the bait was pulled over the kelp or twitched in open water.
But the best action was up top, when the fired-up calicos
would get a scent of the Gulp! and then get all ticked off when their up-top
attack only ended up hanging them on the tip of a sharp Owner hook. We all
agreed we couldn’t be fishing the way we were if not for rigging the Gulp! Jerk
Shads weedless on the Owner Sled Heads.
The best part was the “surprise” attacks, like when I was
pulling a cast out of the water and one of the better calicos of the day came
halfway out of the water to try and eat the Jerk Shad. The fish suspended,
wondering where its meal went, just a couple feet off the boat, and the
reappearance of the lure meant a hooked
calico in no time.
Rich Holland pulled a few of the better fish of the morning in using the Jerk Shad/Sled Head combo and letting it drop into the holes in the kelp.
The fish were definitely schooled up on the inside edges and
no sooner than you thought the bite was done for the morning than we would find
another batch of biters. Lots of pencil barracuda – a great sign for the newly
dawning season – were in the mix, but if you kept the baits mostly in the kelp
you mostly caught bass. Too soon it was almost 11 a.m. and we had to pack it up
and head for the Fred Hall Show.
Still it was a great morning of catching with some old
friends and just as we entered the harbor the wind came up strong, too late to
bother us. All that was left to do was to head for the show with big smiles on
To book a trip with Capt. Jimmy Decker, call 949 280-4597.