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14-foot inflatable out of S.D. Bay gets decent yellowtail

Best luck for fishing kayaks out of La Jolla Shores

Sportfishing deckhand and small craft angler Fernando Vallejo fishing big water aboard his Bris inflatable boat.
Sportfishing deckhand and small craft angler Fernando Vallejo fishing big water aboard his Bris inflatable boat.

Dock Totals 4/3 – 4/9: 1,924 anglers aboard 95 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 1,202 bluefin tuna (to 100 pounds), 4 bocaccio, 11 bonito, 74 calico bass, 2 halibut, 76 lingcod, 3,661 rockfish, 35 sand bass, 14 sanddab, 265 sculpin, 66 sheephead, 2 triggerfish, 844 whitefish, and 933 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The fleet has been mostly chasing the epic bluefin bite, with nearly all boats running full-day to 2-day trips getting limits early enough to target yellowtail by early morning. Still, the best bet for bluefin will be on 1.5 day and longer runs, though yellowtail are showing well just off the Coronado Islands. Closer to home, there have been private boater reports of yellowtail off La Jolla, but that bite has yet to develop for the local half-day sportboats.

This time of year can be sketchy day to day, given the often fast-changing spring weather bringing offshore winds with heat and flat conditions one day, and blustery onshore fronts another. With good planning, folks can get out in smaller craft and find great fishing for their effort. Local angler and deckhand Fernando Vallejo picked a calm day and motored his 14’ Bris inflatable out of San Diego Bay south to the Coronado Islands. With just an 8 horsepower Mercury outboard motor, he still made the Islands, fished all the way around them, and returned with a decent yellowtail in the bag – all on just 4 gallons of fuel.

Though not advisable for folks not acquainted with the ocean and changing conditions, those with experience, skill, and good planning can take advantage of the nearshore banks from smaller vessels. Kayak fishing blew up into a huge industry from a small group of dedicated anglers on Sit on Top (SOT) kayaks catching large gamefish within a few miles of the coast. When I got into the sport in the late-1990s, there were no fishing-specific kayaks on the market.

In the San Diego area, La Jolla Shores was the best launch spot for getting to big gamefish in a relatively short paddle. Considering the catches reported and careers spawned from that small stretch of sand, one could also argue that La Jolla Shores launched the modern day sport of kayak-fishing. Jim Sammons began guiding anglers aboard SOT kayaks in the 1990s, and during one outing with a group of clients he hooked and fought an estimated 200-pound striped marlin and got it to leader after being towed by the big fish miles out to sea.

Using mostly modified Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro SOT kayaks originally designed for divers, anglers began posting pictures of their large fish caught within paddling distance of shore, and with the advent of social media and fishing chat rooms, the word got out. We would customize our kayaks, designing and adding hatches, rod holders, fish finders, and bait tanks so we could better target larger species like yellowtail and white seabass. Sharing fitting techniques and tactics, a small group of dedicated anglers grew rapidly. In just a couple years, the first tournaments grew from a handful of entrants to over a hundred. Now, just over two decades later and with hundreds of different fishing-specific kayaks and accessories on the market, kayak fishing is a huge worldwide industry.

According to the Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation, in just one year between 2013-2014, kayak fishing grew one percent (when comparing all types of recreational fishing from shore or vessels) from 3.3% to 4.3%. That may not seem like much, but it represents 38,872,000 kayak fishing outings in just that one year.

With the cost of a larger boat, storage concerns, fuel, and maintaining a vessel out of reach of many, the small vessel industry grew along with kayak fishing. Today, anglers have a wide range of options for vessels that can get them to fisheries once only available to larger craft. Smaller molded boats, like Solo Skiff, and versatile inflatables such as Scout and Bris, hit the market. With the ease of hauling and more available launch spots with no ramp or trailer needed, fishing kayaks and small vessels have made big game fishing accessible to just about anyone.

Though some of the new pedal-drive model kayaks can run into thousands of dollars, one can still purchase and fit a vessel suitable for fresh or saltwater fishing on a small budget. I still fish my Scupper Pro some 24 years after my first paddle out of La Jolla and considering the original purchase and fitting cost of about $600 and the tons, literally, of fish caught from it, I think it was a wise investment. Looking back at all the fish caught, nautical miles of exercise, and adventures while fishing San Diego and Baja waters, I’d have to say that 600 dollars was by far the best recreational investment I have ever made. To add to the fish caught and minor expense of small craft fishing, there is the beauty and solitude one can rarely find in today’s bustling world. As Fernando Vallejo put it in a recent post:

“Hours spent in solitude, surrounded by billions of tiny droplets of water that have formed the greatest wonder of the world. Life is put into perspective and true happiness shines through the gloom. For a few minutes, time stands still and it’s just you and the water”

However you get out there, get out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: 4/17 – Lake Wohlford, trout (1,000), 4/18, Lake Jennings, trout (1,500), 4/21 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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Sportfishing deckhand and small craft angler Fernando Vallejo fishing big water aboard his Bris inflatable boat.
Sportfishing deckhand and small craft angler Fernando Vallejo fishing big water aboard his Bris inflatable boat.

Dock Totals 4/3 – 4/9: 1,924 anglers aboard 95 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 1,202 bluefin tuna (to 100 pounds), 4 bocaccio, 11 bonito, 74 calico bass, 2 halibut, 76 lingcod, 3,661 rockfish, 35 sand bass, 14 sanddab, 265 sculpin, 66 sheephead, 2 triggerfish, 844 whitefish, and 933 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The fleet has been mostly chasing the epic bluefin bite, with nearly all boats running full-day to 2-day trips getting limits early enough to target yellowtail by early morning. Still, the best bet for bluefin will be on 1.5 day and longer runs, though yellowtail are showing well just off the Coronado Islands. Closer to home, there have been private boater reports of yellowtail off La Jolla, but that bite has yet to develop for the local half-day sportboats.

This time of year can be sketchy day to day, given the often fast-changing spring weather bringing offshore winds with heat and flat conditions one day, and blustery onshore fronts another. With good planning, folks can get out in smaller craft and find great fishing for their effort. Local angler and deckhand Fernando Vallejo picked a calm day and motored his 14’ Bris inflatable out of San Diego Bay south to the Coronado Islands. With just an 8 horsepower Mercury outboard motor, he still made the Islands, fished all the way around them, and returned with a decent yellowtail in the bag – all on just 4 gallons of fuel.

Though not advisable for folks not acquainted with the ocean and changing conditions, those with experience, skill, and good planning can take advantage of the nearshore banks from smaller vessels. Kayak fishing blew up into a huge industry from a small group of dedicated anglers on Sit on Top (SOT) kayaks catching large gamefish within a few miles of the coast. When I got into the sport in the late-1990s, there were no fishing-specific kayaks on the market.

In the San Diego area, La Jolla Shores was the best launch spot for getting to big gamefish in a relatively short paddle. Considering the catches reported and careers spawned from that small stretch of sand, one could also argue that La Jolla Shores launched the modern day sport of kayak-fishing. Jim Sammons began guiding anglers aboard SOT kayaks in the 1990s, and during one outing with a group of clients he hooked and fought an estimated 200-pound striped marlin and got it to leader after being towed by the big fish miles out to sea.

Using mostly modified Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro SOT kayaks originally designed for divers, anglers began posting pictures of their large fish caught within paddling distance of shore, and with the advent of social media and fishing chat rooms, the word got out. We would customize our kayaks, designing and adding hatches, rod holders, fish finders, and bait tanks so we could better target larger species like yellowtail and white seabass. Sharing fitting techniques and tactics, a small group of dedicated anglers grew rapidly. In just a couple years, the first tournaments grew from a handful of entrants to over a hundred. Now, just over two decades later and with hundreds of different fishing-specific kayaks and accessories on the market, kayak fishing is a huge worldwide industry.

According to the Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation, in just one year between 2013-2014, kayak fishing grew one percent (when comparing all types of recreational fishing from shore or vessels) from 3.3% to 4.3%. That may not seem like much, but it represents 38,872,000 kayak fishing outings in just that one year.

With the cost of a larger boat, storage concerns, fuel, and maintaining a vessel out of reach of many, the small vessel industry grew along with kayak fishing. Today, anglers have a wide range of options for vessels that can get them to fisheries once only available to larger craft. Smaller molded boats, like Solo Skiff, and versatile inflatables such as Scout and Bris, hit the market. With the ease of hauling and more available launch spots with no ramp or trailer needed, fishing kayaks and small vessels have made big game fishing accessible to just about anyone.

Though some of the new pedal-drive model kayaks can run into thousands of dollars, one can still purchase and fit a vessel suitable for fresh or saltwater fishing on a small budget. I still fish my Scupper Pro some 24 years after my first paddle out of La Jolla and considering the original purchase and fitting cost of about $600 and the tons, literally, of fish caught from it, I think it was a wise investment. Looking back at all the fish caught, nautical miles of exercise, and adventures while fishing San Diego and Baja waters, I’d have to say that 600 dollars was by far the best recreational investment I have ever made. To add to the fish caught and minor expense of small craft fishing, there is the beauty and solitude one can rarely find in today’s bustling world. As Fernando Vallejo put it in a recent post:

“Hours spent in solitude, surrounded by billions of tiny droplets of water that have formed the greatest wonder of the world. Life is put into perspective and true happiness shines through the gloom. For a few minutes, time stands still and it’s just you and the water”

However you get out there, get out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: 4/17 – Lake Wohlford, trout (1,000), 4/18, Lake Jennings, trout (1,500), 4/21 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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