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Full moon is the enemy

But rock fish don't seem to care

Happy angler with a nice yellowtail landed in tough conditions off the Baja Coast while aboard a full day trip aboard the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing.
Happy angler with a nice yellowtail landed in tough conditions off the Baja Coast while aboard a full day trip aboard the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing.

Dock Totals 3/13 – 3/19: 1,668 anglers aboard 76 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 2 bocaccio, 18 calico bass, 2 halibut, 21 lingcod, 6 lobster (18 released), 4,244 rockfish, 24 sand bass, 15 sanddab, 330 sculpin, 81 sheephead, 2 spider crab, 1,693 whitefish, and 48 yellowtail.

Saltwater: As can be during the brightest phase of the lunar cycle, the pelagic species showed well but were very tight-lipped. Where encountered off the Baja coast, metered bluefin tuna did not respond to any offerings dropped deep, and yellowtail were boiling and breezing on the surface, but very few were caught considering the number of schooling fish seen. As the moon wanes we should see the numbers improve, and many captains are predicting a strong yellowtail bite soon at the Coronado Islands. During full moons, some pelagic species tend to feed at night, and can be fat and full by the time sport boats get to the grounds.

Rockfish, however, are less influenced by moon cycles and anglers targeting them through the week dropping bait and jigs deep for reds, lingcod, sculpin, whitefish, and sheephead were not disappointed. Even with a couple days of rough seas and several boats still in the slip or dry dock finishing up their winter rehab work, the angler count is steadily inching upward as fishing improves along the coast. For the best shot at early season yellowtail and maybe even bluefin tuna, full-day to 1.5-day trips fishing down the coast from the Coronado Islands south to off Colonet are the best bet in the coming weeks. On those trips, rockfish will be very good and odds of catching a big lingcod improve once in Mexican waters. So, if no yellowtail show, or if they show and are stubborn to bite, anglers can still return with plenty of meat in the sack.

Half-day trips will be more focused on our local high spots off Point Loma and La Jolla and targeting rockfish, sand bass, calico bass, and occasionally they will get a decent halibut or white seabass, though the latter have yet to show locally. We should see those big croakers soon, as springtime grunion and squid spawns usually bring them to our waters by April or May. Speaking of grunion, this week was their last spawning run where they can be taken until after April, when they are open again.

Whether they are open for take or not, their unique spawn where grunion beach themselves on the highest nighttime tides to lay and fertilize their eggs in the sand, draw many gamefish into and just outside the surf zone. A good tactic can be fishing at night on beaches where they are spawning, which can result in a decent sand shark, halibut, or bat ray, along with the usual diurnal surf species of croaker, surf perch, and corbina. It’s all down to bait of choice. Frozen anchovy or sardine is fine, but the better bait during grunion runs is smelt, as they are close relatives to grunion. This is for April and May while grunion are protected from harvesting. Grunion runs from June on are open for take, and anglers can then use them for bait.

Daytime fishing in the surf has been improving as well, with sand crabs, ghost shrimp, and scented plastics doing most of the heavy work for yellowfin croaker, barred surf perch, and California corbina. These fish are being caught from just behind the surf break and into the post-break whitewater. My favorite technique is to find sand crab colonies and fish along the nearest rip currents, as when water pushes in and finds relief as it returns out in the deeper cuts that the rips create, and the resulting turbulence can wash crabs out of their hiding place in the sand, and that will draw their predators. Grunion schedules are posted on many local websites, including here. The first night of the next run will be Thursday, March 31st, from 10pm until midnight, and that night will be the last chance for harvesting until June.

A few decent halibut have been reported from the surf zone, but the better action on those has been along the channels and the flats around structure, like bridges, in both bays. San Diego bay has been the better of the two options, as it holds more structure and is deeper. Some of the halibut have been caught in the shallows around 10 – 20 feet deep, but the best halibut fishing has been along the sloping channel edges in 30 to 50 feet of water near the Coronado Bridge, and along the stretch of channel leading out to the bay mouth from between Shelter Island and Coronado and out toward the Zuniga Jetty and the Point Loma flats.

As the tide phase wanes with the moon, halibut bite best during the span of a couple hours before, during and after the slacks during high and low tides. When the currents are rushing through the channels, halibut will tend to dig into the sand and await the lesser current in which to feed. Though halibut have a bacteria resistant coating of slime that also helps them slide through water, being built like a kite makes less current more favorable for their style of ambush feeding. And though they will charge and attack a lure or bait, the slower moving lures or baits drifted will produce better results.

This is the transitional time of year when fishing, whether in the bays, on the beach, or aboard one of the San Diego fleet’s fine vessels, can be tough or excellent on any given day. So keep plugging away and go get ‘em!

Fish Plants: March 24, Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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Happy angler with a nice yellowtail landed in tough conditions off the Baja Coast while aboard a full day trip aboard the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing.
Happy angler with a nice yellowtail landed in tough conditions off the Baja Coast while aboard a full day trip aboard the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing.

Dock Totals 3/13 – 3/19: 1,668 anglers aboard 76 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 2 bocaccio, 18 calico bass, 2 halibut, 21 lingcod, 6 lobster (18 released), 4,244 rockfish, 24 sand bass, 15 sanddab, 330 sculpin, 81 sheephead, 2 spider crab, 1,693 whitefish, and 48 yellowtail.

Saltwater: As can be during the brightest phase of the lunar cycle, the pelagic species showed well but were very tight-lipped. Where encountered off the Baja coast, metered bluefin tuna did not respond to any offerings dropped deep, and yellowtail were boiling and breezing on the surface, but very few were caught considering the number of schooling fish seen. As the moon wanes we should see the numbers improve, and many captains are predicting a strong yellowtail bite soon at the Coronado Islands. During full moons, some pelagic species tend to feed at night, and can be fat and full by the time sport boats get to the grounds.

Rockfish, however, are less influenced by moon cycles and anglers targeting them through the week dropping bait and jigs deep for reds, lingcod, sculpin, whitefish, and sheephead were not disappointed. Even with a couple days of rough seas and several boats still in the slip or dry dock finishing up their winter rehab work, the angler count is steadily inching upward as fishing improves along the coast. For the best shot at early season yellowtail and maybe even bluefin tuna, full-day to 1.5-day trips fishing down the coast from the Coronado Islands south to off Colonet are the best bet in the coming weeks. On those trips, rockfish will be very good and odds of catching a big lingcod improve once in Mexican waters. So, if no yellowtail show, or if they show and are stubborn to bite, anglers can still return with plenty of meat in the sack.

Half-day trips will be more focused on our local high spots off Point Loma and La Jolla and targeting rockfish, sand bass, calico bass, and occasionally they will get a decent halibut or white seabass, though the latter have yet to show locally. We should see those big croakers soon, as springtime grunion and squid spawns usually bring them to our waters by April or May. Speaking of grunion, this week was their last spawning run where they can be taken until after April, when they are open again.

Whether they are open for take or not, their unique spawn where grunion beach themselves on the highest nighttime tides to lay and fertilize their eggs in the sand, draw many gamefish into and just outside the surf zone. A good tactic can be fishing at night on beaches where they are spawning, which can result in a decent sand shark, halibut, or bat ray, along with the usual diurnal surf species of croaker, surf perch, and corbina. It’s all down to bait of choice. Frozen anchovy or sardine is fine, but the better bait during grunion runs is smelt, as they are close relatives to grunion. This is for April and May while grunion are protected from harvesting. Grunion runs from June on are open for take, and anglers can then use them for bait.

Daytime fishing in the surf has been improving as well, with sand crabs, ghost shrimp, and scented plastics doing most of the heavy work for yellowfin croaker, barred surf perch, and California corbina. These fish are being caught from just behind the surf break and into the post-break whitewater. My favorite technique is to find sand crab colonies and fish along the nearest rip currents, as when water pushes in and finds relief as it returns out in the deeper cuts that the rips create, and the resulting turbulence can wash crabs out of their hiding place in the sand, and that will draw their predators. Grunion schedules are posted on many local websites, including here. The first night of the next run will be Thursday, March 31st, from 10pm until midnight, and that night will be the last chance for harvesting until June.

A few decent halibut have been reported from the surf zone, but the better action on those has been along the channels and the flats around structure, like bridges, in both bays. San Diego bay has been the better of the two options, as it holds more structure and is deeper. Some of the halibut have been caught in the shallows around 10 – 20 feet deep, but the best halibut fishing has been along the sloping channel edges in 30 to 50 feet of water near the Coronado Bridge, and along the stretch of channel leading out to the bay mouth from between Shelter Island and Coronado and out toward the Zuniga Jetty and the Point Loma flats.

As the tide phase wanes with the moon, halibut bite best during the span of a couple hours before, during and after the slacks during high and low tides. When the currents are rushing through the channels, halibut will tend to dig into the sand and await the lesser current in which to feed. Though halibut have a bacteria resistant coating of slime that also helps them slide through water, being built like a kite makes less current more favorable for their style of ambush feeding. And though they will charge and attack a lure or bait, the slower moving lures or baits drifted will produce better results.

This is the transitional time of year when fishing, whether in the bays, on the beach, or aboard one of the San Diego fleet’s fine vessels, can be tough or excellent on any given day. So keep plugging away and go get ‘em!

Fish Plants: March 24, Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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