SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — While islands like Catalina and the Coronados have had some life spring into them in the form of white seabass, yellowtail and better bass fishing as the water warms up, the local coast is still kind of in a winter-like rut.
The past few seasons the local barracuda have shown up like clockwork around Mother’s Day weekend, so hopes are high that the slimes will show up this week or at some point this month from San Diego to Ventura. The conditions are looking good enough for the barracuda to filter in. There is a spread of barracuda from the Coronado Islands to Ensenada Bay, it’s just a matter of the fish pushing up. Barracuda have been know to come in from the west and first show up in a region like the Santa Monica Bay or Long Beach first, so just because they are not storming up the beach — which also happens some years — doesn’t mean that the slimes couldn’t pop up literally out of nowhere.
Up and down much of the coast the water is above the 60 degree mark, even hitting 64 degrees some days when the sun warms the water up in the afternoons. But so far the local bass fishing has not perked up for the sportboats. Sure, private boaters have had some good bass fishing up and down the coast, but the big bites on spring calico bass have yet to kick in around places like La Jolla, Dana Point, Horseshoe Kelp and the Santa Monica Bay.
It’s been all rockfish, all the time in the Santa Monica Bay, as even the night bass trips out of Marina del Rey have been slow — it was single digits on the bass on the New del Mar Friday night.
The best bass fishing has been out of Long Beach for the twilights focusing on the sand bass. The Monte Carlo out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro had 49 sand bass for a light load of 13 anglers on Saturday night. Also in the mix were what most of the counts are revolving around, as in 4 rockfish and 9 sculpin. The Monter was on Sunday morning for 97 rockfish, 62 sculpin and 4 reds. It’s been the classic bass biting in the dark situation.
Long Beach Sportfishing has twilight bass trips going on the Native Sun, and the night runs have been good ones on the bass all spring. The Saturday run with 24 anglers used the leadheads and squid to fool 56 sand bass and 7 sculpin. The landing’s halibut trips are over, but there’s still been some flatties in the counts, like on the Black Pearl on Friday when the half-day turned in 2 halibut, 6 reds, 1 calico bass, 2 sand bass, 1 lingcod and 2 sculpin.
The Orange County scene continues to revolve around rockfish and sculpin around the pipes and artificial reefs around Newport, while to the south below Dana Point the bass fishing has shown some signs of coming to life. It’s been a pick and a scratch at best, but the there’s been bass in the counts nonetheless. Like on Sunday on the Dana Pride when 13 sand bass and 1 calico bass have the boat the biggest bass count of the day out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing. On Friday the Clemente caught 14 calico bass to go with 65 mixed rockfish, 3 sculpin, 2 sheephead and a thresher shark.
The San Diego scene from Oceanside to Point Loma continues to revolve around rockfish and sculpin for the sportboats. The New Seaforth has been looking at a little bit of yellowtail off La Jolla and one has been hitting the deck from time to time. Last Wednesday there was 1 yellowtail in the count to go with 1 sheephead, 10 rockfish and 2 sculpin.
Down below San Diego Bay the halibut fishing remains steady for the halibut specials on the Point Loma. The boat put 4 halibut on the deck Saturday for just 8 anglers. On the local front, it’s been all rockfish when the halibut count get stripped away. The 24 anglers on the Daily Double did in 101 rockfish, 1 lingcod and 4 sculpin on Sunday afternoon.
DERBY WINNER — Dana Wharf Sportfishing had its halibut fish off on Sunday on the Clemente. Rob Glass, left, ended up the big winner with this 16.8-pound halibut shown off by Chad Steffen, right, that put $2,957.50 in Glass’ pocket.