Dock Totals Jan 21 – Jan 27: 594 anglers aboard 31 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 131 yellowtail, 37 calico bass, 293 sand bass, 175 rockfish, 2 bonito, 10 halibut, 4 halfmoon, 242 sculpin, 39 sanddab, 35 lizardfish, 10 white croaker, 30 bocaccio, 1 sheephead, and 27 spiny lobster.
Saltwater: Offshore conditions were tough most of last week, and angler attendance was the lowest I can remember. As for the long range boats fishing off Baja Sur and the mainland of Mexico, they have been doing well on cow yellowfin tuna and wahoo on the offshore high spots, while inshore, yellowtail and grouper have been the main targets. The Intrepid, on a fifteen-day run to the Hurricane Bank, reported 24 cow tuna with some anglers getting multiple fish over 150 pounds. Most the big fish were caught on fly-lined chunk bait — or larger cuts of bonito, mackerel, or squid drifted out into the chum line.
Back north within three-day range, and behind the cold front that blew through California and Baja California, the pelagic fishing is back up; In American waters, bluefin tuna are biting off San Clemente Island for the 1.5 day boats that got out on Saturday — though they didn’t make the count, the Mustang reported limits of 25- 50-pound fish along with 45 yellowtail, and the Pacific Queen scored well on yellowtail, rockfish and a few lingcod during a 1.5 day run while fishing off Colonet.
As for our inshore fishery, with the closure through February of groundfish — mainly sheephead, rockfish, lingcod, and bocaccio — the pressure has been on sculpin, sand bass, calico bass and halibut. The latter are biting in 15 to 50 feet of water, especially where sandy bottom stretches between kelp-supporting reef rocks outside the surf line, or along the channel edges in San Diego Bay or Mission Bay. I have had good results on the tasty flatfish with plastic grubs on a head large enough to keep it down yet as light as possible: An example would be for a five or six-inch grub in 20 to 40 feet of water and not a lot of current or wind, I would use a ¾-ounce leadhead. I like Scampi-type twin-tail grubs, though I find a single tail grub with a fat tail — like the Berkley Mogambo — works better.
As the water warms in the spring-summer, the larger halibut move into deeper water, outside and in the bays. Through the warmer months, in deeper sand slots near the kelp in 60 or 70 feet, in the bays, the deeper parts of the channels and especially in the shade under bridges seem to hold more halibut. This time of year can be productive in the bays and from shore or pier for anglers targeting halibut. Citing that, on Wednesdays through February 28th, the Dolphin is hosting a Halibut tournament on their half-day runs with $10 of the ticket price going into the running jackpot.
Top boats of the week:
Jan 21 – 10 hoop-netters aboard the Jig Strike ½ day run raised 79 spiny lobsters, 27 of them kept; 53 released.
Jan 22 – The Dolphin called in with 67 sand bass and 5 sculpin for the 21 anglers aboard their a.m. ½ day run.
Jan 23 – 12 anglers boated 18 calico bass, 27 sand bass, 2 bonito, and 1 sculpin aboard the Daily Double ½ day run.
Jan 24 – 25 anglers fishing the weekly halibut jackpot tournament caught 23 halibut, 21 released and 2 kept aboard the Dolphin a.m. ½ day halibut trip.
Jan 25 – Pacific Queen 1.5 Day Trip 26 Anglers 130 California Yellowtail
Jan 26 – The Fisherman III ran south on an extended ½ day trip into Mexican waters and did well on rockfish, with 175 caught along with 30 bocaccio and 1 sheephead.
Jan 27 – 21 anglers aboard the Electra ½ day run caught 30 sculpin, 21 sanddab, and 5 sand bass.
Fish Plants: 2/5 - Jennings, trout (1,500), 2/6 – Cuyamaca, trout (1,200)