Inshore: I think this is the first weekly report I’ve done in two years that doesn’t have a yellowtail in the local counts. Still, a few were caught off La Jolla by kayakers and private boaters and they continue to show in the long-range counts. Closer to home, it’s all about rockfish, sheephead and whitefish. The latter are a very hard-fighting and tasty species of tilefish that reside on the flats near reefs in 60 to 200 feet of water. Whitefish feed on small crustaceans and will readily bite squid strips. They have a relatively small mouth, so I tend to go with a smaller hook than normal. Generally, a dropper-loop type setup with the weight on the bottom and a couple of 6” loops 18” apart above the weight with #2 live bait hooks works best for me. Cut the squid into strips about 2” long and pin it on so it ‘flags’ in the current. Ocean whitefish will give a hard jerking fight and feel much larger than they are, not unlike a small lingcod. Ocean whitefish filets are very good baked, in ceviche or batter-fried for tacos. The average whitefish is about 1 pound in our area, though they can get to over 10 pounds.
Outside: The Oceanside 95 has made a couple trips this past week to Cortez Bank with limited success on the bluefin tuna still holding there. For the 1.5 to 3 day boats, the pelagic fishing has slowed quite a bit and the focus is now on rockfish while they look about for any surface activity. There has been little in the northern zone offshore, though some decent homeguard yellowtail and good calico fishing can be had off the inshore kelps south of Colinet and around San Martin Island. Further south, the pelagic fishing picks up as you get to the Cedros Island area and on down to the banks south of Cabo San Lucas, where the long range boats are plugging their holds with yellowfin tuna big enough that some vessels are reporting they are releasing fish under 100 pounds.
12/4 – 12/10 Dock Totals: 680 anglers aboard 40 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 23 bluefin tuna, 6 calico bass, 18 sand bass, 2,170 rockfish, 6 lingcod, 1 bonito, 76 sheephead, 191 whitefish, 162 mackerel, 3 bocaccio, 9 rubberlip seaperch, 337 sanddab and 9 California spiny lobster.
Fish Plants: 12/16 Santee Lakes, trout (1500), 12/19 Jennings, trout (1500), 12/20 Cuyamaca, trout (1200)