Rockfish season returns after two-month closure

SAN DIEGO —Southern California anglers were anxious for March 1 to arrive, as it would signal the end of the annual two-month rockfish closure. There is always a special excitement involved with being among the first to drop baits down to target fish that have not been fished for a couple of months. This year was no exception. There has been some good rockfish fishing to be found since the opener.

As an example of the rockfish fishing, Seaforth Sportfishing had New Seaforth out fishing on two half-day trips on March 1. Both trips had 42 anglers combine to catch 62 reds, 26 rockfish and 1 lingcod. On March 2 New Seaforth had 24 anglers fishing on two half-day trips find even better action than on opening day. The 24 anglers caught 82 rockfish, 57 reds, five sheephead, two whitefish and four sculpin.

New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing also found the first significant yellowtail action at La Jolla in recent weeks when they were out on their afternoon half-day trip on Friday, March 3, 2017. The 12 anglers caught five yellowtail, two whitefish, two rockfish, five sculpin and two whitefish.

John Yamate from Seaforth Sportfishing reported the yellowtail to be quality sized 20+ pound fish that were biting best on surface iron. In what was somewhat of a spring-like pattern of yellowtail activity, they had yellowtail come up and boil around the boat when they threw chum after stopping on sonar marks. Yamate said there were quite a few lost yellowtail hookups in addition to the five yellows boated.

The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be providing a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin along with an occasional halibut. Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the bass and sculpin and fishing sandy bottom adjacent to the hard bottom and structure spots has been best for a chance at a halibut.

There has been occasional surface fishing activity on bonito and yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands during the winter season but overall, the surface fishing has been slow. The weather side of North Island has been the best area to look for a chance at locating yellowtail or bonito.

The 13 anglers aboard San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing were on a three-quarter day trip and caught 21 reds, 32 whitefish and 45 rockfish. A good zone for the bottom fishing around the Coronados has been at hard bottom spots to the north and the northwest of North Island while fishing in the 35 to 55 fathom depths. Also productive has been fishing the 30 to 45 fathom depths along the outer ridge areas ranging from outside of South Island on down to where you are fishing outside of the South Kelp below South Island.

The 2017 Southern California ocean fishing season is headed toward its spring awakening. We are already starting to see some signs of the spring season that lies ahead. Here is to hoping for a banner year of fishing 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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