Inshore: Rockfish, sculpin and yellowtail are the main local catches off the kelp edge and on the high spots. A few grumpy-sized sand bass are showing up prespawn, and some decent calicos have hit the deck when the current is right and the kelp is up. Try a weedless rig on the calicos, such as a soft swimbait with the hook buried and a relatively light head. Fish it almost like lily-pad fishing for largemouth; wriggle it through the strands, letting it freefall occasionally. The yellowtail are still responding best deep, 120 feet or so, and on the yoyo iron. The surface jigs are scaring up a few bonito and barracuda.
Outside: Some of the midrange boats that have been down for off-season maintenance are up and running a little early for the spring 1.5 day yellowtail trips and are having success on 15 to 30 pound fish. The rockfishing on the offshore banks out to the 60 mile spot has been good between the swells and weather. Down the coast from Ensenada to just south of San Quintin, there is good yellowtail action on the near-shore banks and excellent rockfish, whitefish and sheephead in as shallow as 100 feet of water. There have been no reports, yet, of the bluefin tuna that were haunting the Cortez and Tanner banks this time last year.
1/24 – 1/30 Dock Totals: 589 anglers aboard 34 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 698 yellowtail, 61 calico bass, 69 sand bass, 626 rockfish, 6 sheephead, 52 lingcod, 442 sculpin, 23 halfmoon, 2 rubberlip seaperch, 6 barracuda, 32 bonito, 98 sanddab, 7 white croaker, 9 whitefish, and 17 spiny lobster.
Freshwater: Lake Hodges’ 2016 fishing season begins Wednesday, February 3. The lake will be open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, one half hour before sunrise to sunset. The trout activity in most San Diego county lakes has awakened the appetites of the big largemouth bass that love to ambush the smaller trout in the mix. This is the time of year for the bass anglers to break out the trout-colored plugs and plastics in their arsenals.
Scheduled trout plants (lbs): 2/8 Jennings (2000), 2/9 Cuyamaca (1100), 2/10 Dixon (3000), Wohlford (1500)