A seasonal two-month rockfish/groundfish closure for anglers fishing in Southern California waters coincided with the start of 2017. The rockfish/groundfish closure forced anglers to look for other species to target, unless they want to travel into Mexican waters. Being forced to look for other species has proven fruitful to date as anglers reeled in good numbers of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, halibut, yellowtail or white seabass.
Yellowtail and white seabass prospects have been generating the most excitement. The La Jolla region has provided the best chance at locating yellowtail while fishing off the stretch of coast between Pacific Beach and Torrey Pines. There has also been an occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for yellowtail with the La Jolla and Pacific Beach areas providing the best chance at a white seabass. The last report I have of a white seabass catch was from a private boater fishing outside of the Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier on Jan. 7.
There have been three areas where yellowtail activity has been reported in the stretch between Pacific Beach and Torrey Pines. This hard bottom area has you fishing below the MLPA Closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla and a good depth range has been in 15 to 18 fathoms of water.
Another area providing a chance at finding some yellowtail action is at the hard bottom and kelp stringer area outside the upper end of La Jolla. Boats fishing outside of Torrey Pines have also been reporting occasional yellowtail action farther up the coast. The yellowtail action outside of Torrey Pines has been found while fishing in deeper water than where the yellows are being found off La Jolla and Pacific Beach. Most of the yellowtail activity in the Torrey Pines zone has been reported in depths ranging from 25 to 80 fathoms of water.
New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing reported yellowtail catches on its Jan. 7 and 8 expeditions. The Jan. 8 half-day trip had 41 anglers who caught 4 yellowtail, 5 sculpin, 1 halibut, 1 sand bass and 2 calico bass. The Jan. 7 morning half-day trip had 19 anglers who caught 3 yellowtail, 2 calico bass and 1 sand bass.
Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Fishing sandy bottom areas adjacent to the hard bottom and structure spots can be good places to try some drifting for halibut. Specific productive areas for the bass and sculpin off the San Diego County coast have been Box Canyon, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, Carlsbad, Leucadia, the upper end of La Jolla, the Jetty Kelp in front of Mission Bay, Hill Street, Point Loma College, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and the Imperial Beach Pipeline.
The 2017 fishing season is underway and I would say it is off to a fine start with catches of yellowtail, white seabass, lingcod, rockfish, calico bass and sand bass being reported. Best wishes to you in your fishing and in the other aspects of your life in 2017! Keep on fishing and I hope to see you out on the water!
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 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 email@example.com.
(Pacific Queen photo)