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Catch halibut with dead-sticking or bounce-ball technique

Fish Baja and bring home a rescue dog

Joe Martin with a nice halibut caught on the lee side of San Martin Island while fishing with Captain Juan Cook.
Joe Martin with a nice halibut caught on the lee side of San Martin Island while fishing with Captain Juan Cook.

Dock Totals 7/10 – 7/16: 4424 anglers aboard 189 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 397 barracuda, 793 bluefin tuna (to 210 pounds), 1 blue perch, 4 bocaccio, 1868 bonito, 1297 calico bass, 229 dorado, 13 halibut, 4 lingcod, 2,496 rockfish, 77 sand bass, 2 sanddab, 101 sculpin, 34 sheephead, 2 treefish, 80 triggerfish, 210 whitefish, 13 yellowfin tuna, and 6415 yellowtail.

Saltwater: A great yellowtail bite made up for a more sluggish week for yellowfin tuna and dorado for the San Diego fleet. Bluefin tuna also carried some weight in the counts after a very slow bite the week before. Boats are still reporting foaming feeders on small anchovies, but adjusted tactics and more willing biters account for the rise in numbers and size of bluefin caught. As predicted, bluefin are moving northwest toward the outer banks southwest of San Clemente Island, but there are still schools as far south as San Quintin. Ensenada operators are getting an occasional flurry of tuna, with any given day producing a good grade of bluefin or no biters at all. Not to worry; rockfish, yellowtail, and white seabass are biting well there if the tuna don’t want to play.

The white seabass bite out of San Quintin has been hot in the early gray light around San Martin Island, with fish plentiful in the 20- to 30-pound range. Though they are "middling sized," the tankers, up to and over 50 pounds, are around. When that bite slows by mid-morning, the pangeros are making a quick run to the local banks for a wide-open yellowtail bite. Another option when the seabass bite slows is dropping down for halibut along the lee side of the island, where the cuts can hold large halibut in 40 to 80 feet of water. While the white seabass are hitting heavier Krokodile lures in the upper half of the water column in and near the same area, halibut are more commonly caught using the bounce-ball technique with a live mackerel for bait, or dead-sticking a larger plastic along the bottom.

With the bounce-ball, drifting usually does the work, with a heavy weight keeping the bait along the bottom and dragging it along as the boat drifts. A slow-medium wind or current drift at 1 mph is about perfect for this method. Dead-sticking is dropping a lure to the bottom, locking the reel in gear, then just raising and lowering the rod tip — pulling the lure up, then letting it flutter back. Dead sticking is best with a drift as well, but in a dead calm with no drift, anglers can cast away from the boat, let it sink to the bottom, then retrieve the lure while slowly raising the rod then allowing the lure to drop back in a slow hopping motion.

This is the time of year when fishing starts blowing up along the cool-water spots from south of Punta Banda down to El Rosario, and again along the southwest edge of the Vizcaino Peninsula halfway down Baja. There are many options within a day’s drive of San Diego that are cool this time of year. I just spent a week and a half surf fishing just south of San Quintin Bay, and the air temperature got over 70 degrees only one day, and water temps ranged from 60 to 64 on the beach.

The cool, gray and breezy weather was a nice break, as eastern San Diego County has been baking for a while now. As I surf fished every morning, I felt the water warm from frigid foot-numbing to fairly comfortable. I caught plenty of very large barred surf perch, including my largest ever at 3 pounds, and a handful of corbina to 4 pounds. My next trip down is in a couple weeks, and I will take the kayak to hunt for larger halibut in the bay mouth and yellowtail and white seabass just outside the point.

This time, large tide swings and predicted winds were a bit much for paddling, so the kayak stayed behind. My return north included bringing a couple rescue dogs in crates, and with limited room in the old Jeep, bringing more than surf-fishing gear and some basic tools was out of the question. The day I left San Quintin with my wingman Flash Gordon and two large crates in the back, conditions flattened out, the sun made its longest appearance since arriving, and it was hard to leave. Had I taken the kayak, I’d probably still be there.

It is quite satisfying to couple a fishing trip with helping bring rescue dogs toward their forever homes. If folks returning have room, it is not hard at all to do; the Baja rescue operations will provide paperwork, and the dogs will be vaccinated and legal to cross the border. If you have any interest in helping with this when returning from a Baja fishing trip, please contact me at: [email protected] You can also look up many of the operations online and contact those in areas you plan to visit.

They're out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches this past week:

7/10 – Legendary fishing for 28 anglers aboard the Legend 2.5-day run, with 28 dorado, 5 yellowfin tuna, 1 bluefin tuna, and limits of 420 yellowtail caught.

7/11 – The Little G put some weight in the hold, reporting limits of good-grade bluefin tuna caught by 6 anglers aboard their 2.5-day trip.

7/12 – 23 anglers aboard the Liberty full-day outing scored, putting 4 dorado, 90 bonito, and limits of 115 yellowtail on the deck.

7/13 – The Alicia returned to the dock from their overnight trip with 3 dorado, 3 bonito, and limits of 50 yellowtail for the 10 anglers aboard.

7/15 – The Pacific Queen called in from their overnight trip with 2 dorado and limits of 170 yellowtail for 34 anglers.

7/16 – The Aztec reported good action for their 18 anglers aboard for a 3-day trip, with 170 yellowtail, 1 dorado, and 61 bluefin tuna caught.

Fish Plants: 7/25 -Lake Jennings, catfish (1,000)

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Joe Martin with a nice halibut caught on the lee side of San Martin Island while fishing with Captain Juan Cook.
Joe Martin with a nice halibut caught on the lee side of San Martin Island while fishing with Captain Juan Cook.

Dock Totals 7/10 – 7/16: 4424 anglers aboard 189 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 397 barracuda, 793 bluefin tuna (to 210 pounds), 1 blue perch, 4 bocaccio, 1868 bonito, 1297 calico bass, 229 dorado, 13 halibut, 4 lingcod, 2,496 rockfish, 77 sand bass, 2 sanddab, 101 sculpin, 34 sheephead, 2 treefish, 80 triggerfish, 210 whitefish, 13 yellowfin tuna, and 6415 yellowtail.

Saltwater: A great yellowtail bite made up for a more sluggish week for yellowfin tuna and dorado for the San Diego fleet. Bluefin tuna also carried some weight in the counts after a very slow bite the week before. Boats are still reporting foaming feeders on small anchovies, but adjusted tactics and more willing biters account for the rise in numbers and size of bluefin caught. As predicted, bluefin are moving northwest toward the outer banks southwest of San Clemente Island, but there are still schools as far south as San Quintin. Ensenada operators are getting an occasional flurry of tuna, with any given day producing a good grade of bluefin or no biters at all. Not to worry; rockfish, yellowtail, and white seabass are biting well there if the tuna don’t want to play.

The white seabass bite out of San Quintin has been hot in the early gray light around San Martin Island, with fish plentiful in the 20- to 30-pound range. Though they are "middling sized," the tankers, up to and over 50 pounds, are around. When that bite slows by mid-morning, the pangeros are making a quick run to the local banks for a wide-open yellowtail bite. Another option when the seabass bite slows is dropping down for halibut along the lee side of the island, where the cuts can hold large halibut in 40 to 80 feet of water. While the white seabass are hitting heavier Krokodile lures in the upper half of the water column in and near the same area, halibut are more commonly caught using the bounce-ball technique with a live mackerel for bait, or dead-sticking a larger plastic along the bottom.

With the bounce-ball, drifting usually does the work, with a heavy weight keeping the bait along the bottom and dragging it along as the boat drifts. A slow-medium wind or current drift at 1 mph is about perfect for this method. Dead-sticking is dropping a lure to the bottom, locking the reel in gear, then just raising and lowering the rod tip — pulling the lure up, then letting it flutter back. Dead sticking is best with a drift as well, but in a dead calm with no drift, anglers can cast away from the boat, let it sink to the bottom, then retrieve the lure while slowly raising the rod then allowing the lure to drop back in a slow hopping motion.

This is the time of year when fishing starts blowing up along the cool-water spots from south of Punta Banda down to El Rosario, and again along the southwest edge of the Vizcaino Peninsula halfway down Baja. There are many options within a day’s drive of San Diego that are cool this time of year. I just spent a week and a half surf fishing just south of San Quintin Bay, and the air temperature got over 70 degrees only one day, and water temps ranged from 60 to 64 on the beach.

The cool, gray and breezy weather was a nice break, as eastern San Diego County has been baking for a while now. As I surf fished every morning, I felt the water warm from frigid foot-numbing to fairly comfortable. I caught plenty of very large barred surf perch, including my largest ever at 3 pounds, and a handful of corbina to 4 pounds. My next trip down is in a couple weeks, and I will take the kayak to hunt for larger halibut in the bay mouth and yellowtail and white seabass just outside the point.

This time, large tide swings and predicted winds were a bit much for paddling, so the kayak stayed behind. My return north included bringing a couple rescue dogs in crates, and with limited room in the old Jeep, bringing more than surf-fishing gear and some basic tools was out of the question. The day I left San Quintin with my wingman Flash Gordon and two large crates in the back, conditions flattened out, the sun made its longest appearance since arriving, and it was hard to leave. Had I taken the kayak, I’d probably still be there.

It is quite satisfying to couple a fishing trip with helping bring rescue dogs toward their forever homes. If folks returning have room, it is not hard at all to do; the Baja rescue operations will provide paperwork, and the dogs will be vaccinated and legal to cross the border. If you have any interest in helping with this when returning from a Baja fishing trip, please contact me at: [email protected] You can also look up many of the operations online and contact those in areas you plan to visit.

They're out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches this past week:

7/10 – Legendary fishing for 28 anglers aboard the Legend 2.5-day run, with 28 dorado, 5 yellowfin tuna, 1 bluefin tuna, and limits of 420 yellowtail caught.

7/11 – The Little G put some weight in the hold, reporting limits of good-grade bluefin tuna caught by 6 anglers aboard their 2.5-day trip.

7/12 – 23 anglers aboard the Liberty full-day outing scored, putting 4 dorado, 90 bonito, and limits of 115 yellowtail on the deck.

7/13 – The Alicia returned to the dock from their overnight trip with 3 dorado, 3 bonito, and limits of 50 yellowtail for the 10 anglers aboard.

7/15 – The Pacific Queen called in from their overnight trip with 2 dorado and limits of 170 yellowtail for 34 anglers.

7/16 – The Aztec reported good action for their 18 anglers aboard for a 3-day trip, with 170 yellowtail, 1 dorado, and 61 bluefin tuna caught.

Fish Plants: 7/25 -Lake Jennings, catfish (1,000)

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