Southern CA Saltwater

Sandies on the chew, bluefin too

BY MERIT McCREA/WON Staff Writer Published: Feb 13, 2018

SAN DIEGO — The Mustang out of H&M Landing arrived back at the dock Sunday morning with yet another bluefin tuna score. Locally, the sand bass bite got solid for half-day anglers fishing south along the coast.

The Mustang was on a 1.5-dayer, actually with a 7 p.m. departure, when 21 anglers decked 37 bluefin from 30 to 60 pounds apiece and 10 yellowtail for the day too. Capt. Steve estimated they hooked over 60 to land those 10.

KODY KESSELL WITH a grumpy Imperial Beach sand bass on the Daily Double.

H&M's Rick Marin had the report. He said by 9 a.m. Saturday the boat had called in to report 12 blues on deck. It was around 4 p.m. when they called back with 37 in the hold and on their way to find a few yellowtail to top it off.

Most of the bite had apparently been on fly-lined sardines, but at least a few fell to the larger Flat-Fall-style jigs. Marin said there was no report of any taken on deep-dropped live bait.

Captain Fred Huber, owner of the Daily Double, the half-day boat out of Point Loma Sportfishing, reported on the solid sand bass and sculpin bite while fishing heavy structure in 90 feet of water down off Imperial Beach recently.

On Friday, 19 anglers had 41 bass, with 9 calicos and the rest sandies, plus 42 scorpionfish. Huber said, "...a variety of methods — pretty much hugging the bottom with knocker rigs and sculpin bombs and just straight leadheads." Anglers baited these with a variety of baits: Mackerel strips, sardine strips and some with squid and all worked.

THIS YOUNG ANGLER has a "sculpin bomb" clenched in his fish, and a hefty Daily Double half-day sand bass swinging from it.

The bass tended to be bigger models, 3 to 6 pounds, and bigger baits were a good choice once the fish got biting well. A sculpin bomb consists of a customized 3- to 5-ounce torpedo weight painted sculpin colors, with a very short length of heavy braid attaching a larger j-hook to it. This is then baited with a sardine chunk or mackerel strip and fished tight to the bottom.

The knocker rig uses an egg sinker above a leadhead, adding extra weight and knocking against the leadhead. It was all about getting the bait right on the rocks.

The bite was consistent though the week nearly every day, as on Sunday the Dolphin's 36 folks drummed up 69 sand bass and 23 sculpin, and one lucky angler got a keeper halibut.

The Daiwa Pacific ran an extended half-day to fish Mexican waters deep cods, with 15 anglers resulting in full limits of reds and other rockfish, for 150 total.

The Chief tapped areas farther south, down toward Colonet. Their 31 fishers also limited on rockfish and reds, 310 in all. Marin said they were all nice quality fish.

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