Private Boaters Report

Private Boater’s Report Rockfish Opener highlighted by better conditions and biting fish

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Mar 05, 2019

The past week saw some days of decent conditions, but there were also a few days of weather that included enough wind and rain to keep most anglers on shore. The upcoming week has some rain in the forecast, so the pattern of periodic weather fronts moving through Southern California looks like it will continue. It is good practice for anglers to watch the weather forecasts closely and pick the good weather days on which to go boating or fishing.

The week, we saw the end of the annual 2-month rockfish closure on March 1. The good news was, opening day featured calm conditions and good fishing. A couple of the changes in the rockfish regulations are fishing for rockfish in non-cow-cod-closure areas is allowed in depths up to 75 fathoms of water, and within cow cod conservation areas, fishing for rockfish species that do not include cow cod is allowed in depths less than 40 fathoms. All the details about these and other changes to the rockfish regulations are available at

Some sportboat counts from the rockfish opener were the Sea Watch out of Seaforth Sport­ishing that had 53 anglers on two half-day trips catch 167 reds and 137 assorted rockfish. Sean at Point Loma Sportfishing reported the Point Loma fished a morning half-day with 20 anglers that returned with 93 rockfish and 4 sculpin. Fisher­man’s Landing had the Dolphin fish two half-day trips with 55 anglers that combined to catch 101 rockfish, 4 sheephead, 6 sculpin, 3 sand bass and 4 calico bass. H&M Landing had the Premier fishing two half-day trips with 49 anglers combining to catch 3 sheephead, 16 sculpin, 3 sand bass and 146 assorted rockfish.

Some of the best rockfish fishing areas in the San Diego region that are on the U.S. side of the Mexican border are the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hardbottom to the west and northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.

In addition to the rockfish fishing along the San Diego County coast there are also some sand bass, sculpin and calico bass biting along with a few bonus halibut. Hard-bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure area at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive areas for flatties include the sandy bottom near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, the sandy bottoms outside of the Oceanside Pier, off South Ponto Beach, next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck located outside of Mission Beach, San Diego Bay and the sandy-bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

The report from the Coronado Islands is there is good fishing for reds and an assortment of rockfish but not much in the way of surface action. The Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished at the Coronados on Friday and had 15 anglers on a full-day trip catch 11 whitefish, 4 sheephead, 60 rockfish and 75 reds.

Good areas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 35 to 50 fathoms. There have been a few bonito biting around the Coronados in recent weeks, and the best areas for surface fishing action have been while fishing along the weather side of North Island and at the Middle Grounds.

The reports from boats fishing trips down the Mexican coast to the Punta Colonet area and below are pretty much the same as they have been in recent weeks with very good fishing reported for a mix of yellowtail, reds, lingcod and an assortment of rockfish.

The yellowtail off Punta Colonet have been mostly the 15- to 25-pound fish. The best bet for the forkies has been to find meter marks or spots of working birds to stop on. Once yellows are located, try yo-yo iron or sardines fished on a dropper loop rig. The heavy Salas 6X and Salas 7X sized yo-yo jigs in scrambled egg have been reported to be working best.

Some fish counts from trips fishing 2.5-day trips that returned home Sunday include the Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had 15 anglers on a 2.5-day trip catch 100 reds and 21 yellowtail. Seaforth also had the Tomahawk on a 2.5-day with 10 anglers sacking 100 rockfish, 100 whitefish, 100 reds, 16 sheephead, 2 lingcod and 2 yellowtail. The Sea Adventure 80 out of H&M Landing that had 27 anglers on a 2.5-day trip catch 504 rockfish, 20 calico bass, 15 lingcod, 1 halibut and 1 sheephead.

CCA CHANNEL ISLANDS Chapter president Kevin Brannon taking advantage of opening weekend of the re-opened rockfish season. CCA PHOTO