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A New Year without El Niño

Recreational groundfish season comes to an end

Vermillion rockfish
Vermillion rockfish

On New Year’s Eve, local groundfish might have a reason to celebrate. In the angling community over the past couple winters, our lucky New Year’s baby has been the El Niño conditions that kept yellowtail and tuna close to home in the winter. This winter, as the pelagic species have moved south and water temps are around 60 degrees, boats have returned to target rockcod, sheephead, and whitefish.

Why the deep-water celebration? Recreational groundfish season ends at midnight and begins again in two months on the first day of March. Until then, those anglers wishing to catch lingcod, whitefish, sheephead, all species of rockfishes, cabezon, or greenlings from a boat must go south of the border or do so from shore. In our area, about the only fish on that list a shore-based angler has a shot at catching is a cabezon or maybe a greenling.

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Sponsored

In the San Diego area our best bottom-fishing is around the La Jolla/ Scripps Canyon complex or out off the Nine Mile Bank, and it’s really not that great. Of the favorites targeted on the bottom (whitefish, lingcod, vermillion rockfish, and sheephead), the average size has dropped over the decades since the mid-20th century. The stretches of banks and canyons off the Baja Peninsula still hold some of the larger groundfish equal to the ones my grandfather might’ve caught locally on his trusty little 14-foot skiff in the 1960s.

Boats leaving San Diego landings fish those fertile bottom-fishing grounds from the Coronado Islands on down to the cold-water zone that runs from Ensenada to Vizcaino Bay, which begins a few hundred miles south of the border.

For those fishing close to home, sculpin, or California scorpionfish, season opens the first of the year. The local near-shore waters still hold other endemic species this time of year, including sand bass, calico bass, halibut, the occasional barracuda, bonito, white seabass, and “homeguard” yellowtail; those few larger models don’t migrate with schools but rather lurk at the kelp edges on the deeper side awaiting to ambush a hapless mackerel.

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Vermillion rockfish
Vermillion rockfish

On New Year’s Eve, local groundfish might have a reason to celebrate. In the angling community over the past couple winters, our lucky New Year’s baby has been the El Niño conditions that kept yellowtail and tuna close to home in the winter. This winter, as the pelagic species have moved south and water temps are around 60 degrees, boats have returned to target rockcod, sheephead, and whitefish.

Why the deep-water celebration? Recreational groundfish season ends at midnight and begins again in two months on the first day of March. Until then, those anglers wishing to catch lingcod, whitefish, sheephead, all species of rockfishes, cabezon, or greenlings from a boat must go south of the border or do so from shore. In our area, about the only fish on that list a shore-based angler has a shot at catching is a cabezon or maybe a greenling.

Sponsored
Sponsored

In the San Diego area our best bottom-fishing is around the La Jolla/ Scripps Canyon complex or out off the Nine Mile Bank, and it’s really not that great. Of the favorites targeted on the bottom (whitefish, lingcod, vermillion rockfish, and sheephead), the average size has dropped over the decades since the mid-20th century. The stretches of banks and canyons off the Baja Peninsula still hold some of the larger groundfish equal to the ones my grandfather might’ve caught locally on his trusty little 14-foot skiff in the 1960s.

Boats leaving San Diego landings fish those fertile bottom-fishing grounds from the Coronado Islands on down to the cold-water zone that runs from Ensenada to Vizcaino Bay, which begins a few hundred miles south of the border.

For those fishing close to home, sculpin, or California scorpionfish, season opens the first of the year. The local near-shore waters still hold other endemic species this time of year, including sand bass, calico bass, halibut, the occasional barracuda, bonito, white seabass, and “homeguard” yellowtail; those few larger models don’t migrate with schools but rather lurk at the kelp edges on the deeper side awaiting to ambush a hapless mackerel.

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Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
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Previous article

Cool Start for a Predicted El Niño Year

Lake Hodges to Reopen (but don’t bring your trailered boat)
Next Article

Sara Jacobs learns about hunger at 5-star hotels in Kenya and Somalia

Soon-Shiong's biotech is hurting
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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