LocalFish Rap

Good Weather Days Provide Good Fishing!

The first couple of weeks of February have seen a series of northern weather systems move through Southern California. The days of stormy weather have been bringing things that have kept anglers off the water such as rain, strong winds, thunderstorms and high seas. The offsetting good news is that the good weather days between weather systems have been providing pleasant seas and good winter time fishing. It is important that anglers and boaters always check the latest marine weather forecast before going fishing or boating.


An encouraging observation is that the water temperature along the San Diego county coast has held up pretty well considering all the weather systems that have been moving through. After the last series of weather systems there was still 60.5 degree water to be found which is about the same as it was before the weather systems moved through. This could be a good sign that we might see an early “spring surface fishing season” in 2024.


An ongoing reminder to anglers is that the annual rockfish closure on the United States side of the Mexico border went into effect on New Years Day and that the closure will remain in effect until April 1, 2024. During this time period anglers wishing to fish for rockfish will need to do so in Mexican waters. An additional reminder is that the fishing for sheephead on the United States side of the Mexico border will be closed until March 1, 2024. Please refer to the Department of Fish and Wildlife website for all the details about the various closures at www.wildlife.ca.gov.


Los Coronado Islands have been producing very good numbers of rockfish for those wishing to escape the rockfish closure in United States waters and do some rockfish fishing. A productive rockfish zone has been at the hard bottom to the northwest, north and northeast of North Island in the 25 to 60 fathom depths.  Not far away, the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank has also been very good for rockfish on the Mexico side of the border.  Another productive rockfish zone has been at the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 25 to 45 fathom depths.


I have yet to hear of much in the way of yellowtail activity around Los Coronado Islands but with the water temperature holding at around 60 degrees, some yellowtail and bonito activity might pop up sometime soon.


When the weather allows, sportboats have been fishing 1.5 day trips to the Punta Colnett region and have been finding very good mixed bag fishing for reds, lingcod and an assortment of rockfish. There has been a chance at finding yellowtail activity on these trips as well.


The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been highlighted by yellowtail activity in the La Jolla region. When boats are out looking there are yellowtail seen and metered most every day but it has usually been hard to get the yellowtail to bite. There are occasional biting yellowtail to be found though and it is usually been worth the effort if you catch one as most of the yellows have been in the 18 to 40 pound range.


Most yellowtail hookups have been on yo-yo iron or surface iron that are fished around spots of bait, meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breaking fish. Most of the yellowtail activity has been found in depths ranging from 14 to 40 fathoms with the 18 to 25 fathom depths being the best. Areas of bait are likely spots to mark where yellowtail might show. The best zones to try to locate yellowtail have been along the outskirts of the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla as well as outside of the upper end of La Jolla.


Yo-yo jigs fished around yellowtail meter marks that are found around deep bait balls have accounted for the majority of the yellowtail hookups and good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white and scrambled egg colors. Colt Sniper dart style yo-yo jigs have also produced an occasional yellowtail hookup. Surface iron has also been effective when you can cast the jig to breaking fish before they sound. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45 and Salas 7X light jigs in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.


In addition to a chance at a yellowtail at La Jolla, hard bottom and structure areas up and down the San Diego County coast have been producing a good mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, whitefish and an occasional halibut. Productive areas include the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre.


Halibut fishing remains scratchy with the best zone for a chance at a halibut having been off San Onofre while drifting sandy bottom near structure in 35 to 50 feet. There has also been some halibut activity off Imperial Beach drifting sandy bottom adjacent to hard bottom/kelp areas and fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline.


As an example of the recent fishing along the San Diego County Coast, in the Point Loma and Imperial Beach region, the Daily Double out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a half-day trip with 23 anglers catch 73 sand bass, 23 sculpin and 10 whitefish. The New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a recent half-day trip to the La Jolla area where 22 anglers caught 220 whitefish, 1 calico bass and 1 sculpin. In Oceanside, the Oceanside Sea Center had a half day trip aboard the Chubasco II out fishing with 7 anglers catch 14 sand bass, 5 sculpin, 4 calico bass, 1 whitefish and 20 sand bass that were released.


We are still in the middle of winter but there have been some good weather days between storms that have produced good winter time fishing. Watch the weather forecasts closely so you can do your best to try and do your fishing on the good weather days. Keep on fishing and I hope to see you out on the water sometime soon!


    Bob Vanian is the voice, writer and researcher of the San Diego-based internet fish report service called 976-Bite which can be found at www.976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the telephone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number or at bob976bite@aol.com.

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  • can you take people out to catch Humbolt squid? I want to make a three foot stuffed calimari



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