Southern CA Saltwater

South Coast landings chill out with rockfish, small bass

BY RICH HOLLAND/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Nov 21, 2017

DANA POINT — With the exception of trips to Catalina Island that have a decent shot at connecting with a yellowtail, most of the action out of the South Coast landings has been heavily weighted towards bottom fishing, thanks to a dip in local water temperatures that has made area bass reluctant.

A Saturday 3/4-day run to Catalina out of Davey's Locker in Newport Beach got into some surface activity that saw 32 anglers connect with 12 yellowtail, 21 bonito and a barracuda, while they rounded off the count with 15 whitefish, 4 sheephead, 24 blue perch, 1 sand bass, 4 calico bass and 3 sargo.

derbydrifterDERBY DRIFTER — Quality halibut continue to show on Dana Wharf’s halibut derby drift trips, like this one caught aboard the Reel Fun last week.

Picking through the bass for keepers (14 inches and up) was slow work along the beach, so the hard bottom spots holding rockfish were most frequently hit with an anchor.

"Well, things are starting to clamp down a bit as the water did cool off on the beach," reported Capt. Brian Woolley for Dana Wharf Sportfishing in Dana Point. "This week we had 61- to 63-degree water, and with that the surface action obviously slowed up a bit.

"So it’s been a trade in the surface lures and jigs for the sinkers kind of game," he added. "We're starting to see less calico bass in our counts and more sand bass and sheephead as we change our target zones. Dropper loop squid or sardine or a heavy leadhead and squid were the rigs that caught fish best this week on the half-day trips.

"Those big schools of bonito appear to have moved out, as we only had a good hit on that stuff one day this week," reported Woolley."The 3/4-day trips have been out in the 40- to 50-fathom zones setting up on the hard bottom and catching rockfish.

"There are plenty of fish out deep that want to bite. Having an assortment of 8- to 10-ounce sinkers would be a good idea and the ever versatile 100g Coltsniper is still relevant out deep and catching plenty of fish for the guys choosing that approach."

Woolley reported the new fish in the top spot of Dana Wharf's Halibut Derby, a 25 pounder caught by Greg Harrington of Redlands Sunday, Nov. 12, held up easily this week, but conditions look good for a new challenger to emerge.

"We’re seeing lots of fin bait out in the drift zones we’ve been fishing right now, which is a good deal," the skipper noted. "At least there's something to hold fish on the bottom. The Sum Fun is out today (Nov. 19) hoping to keep the ball rolling and add a few fish to the board."

Kid-friendly Dana Wharf is looking to get more young blood on the water, so for the entire month of December, the landing is letting up to 2 kids 14-and-under fish free with a full-fare paid adult.

"This is a killer opportunity to get out for some great family time starting in December," Woolley told WON.

Newport Landing in Newport Beach sent out two half-day trips on the Aggressor Saturday. The afternoon run hooked 110 calicos without a keeper and ended up with 28 sheephead, 7 whitefish, 5 blue perch and 1 triggerfish.

Speaking of family fun, the Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade starts a bit early in the calendar this year because Christmas Day falls on a Monday. The parade kicks off Wednesday, Dec. 13 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 17. All of the South Coast fleet is offering charters and some selected open trips to get on the water and watch the holiday spectacle.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special weekly supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Advertise with Western Outdoor News
The Longfin Tackle Shop