Anglers, amidst recent tough weather, eyeing March 1 rockfish opener

SAN DIEGO—The recent onslaught of weather systems – which have brought high seas, wind and rain to Southern California – have kept anglers off the water and indoors several days during the past several weeks. We also had Small Craft Advisories posted from the evening of Feb. 15 to through Feb. 18 (the three-day President’s Day holiday weekend). Anglers, nonetheless, have been able to get out on the water on the days of decent weather between storms – though they have had to watch the marine weather forecasts closely and use good judgment in picking those good weather days.

The current 10-day weather forecast calls for just three days where there is greater than a 10 percent chance of rain, so maybe there are some improving conditions in store for anglers to get back out on the water more often and fish. No matter what time of year, it is good practice to always check the latest marine weather forecast before going boating or fishing.

There have not been any boats out fishing offshore waters lately in an effort to relocate the bluefin tuna and kelp paddie yellowtail that were around and biting into the late part of January. There was a recent report by a skipper who was out looking for whales who was thinking he was seeing breaking bluefin tuna under working birds in an area where there were some whales and porpoise. His report was that he was seeing what he thought were likely breaking bluefin tuna under working birds while 2.5 miles outside of South Carlsbad in about 100 fathoms of water.

Relentless out of H&M Landing fished a weekend two-day trip on Feb. 9 and 10 and had 16 anglers catch 160 reds, 150 rockfish, five lingcod, one yellowtail and one sheephead.

The last report from Los Coronado Islands was when Malihini out of H&M Landing fished the Coronados on Feb. 11. Capt. Bill Wilkerson reported very good fishing for a mix of reds, lingcod, whitefish, sheephead and an assortment of rockfish. The surface fishing was scratchy that day but they did have a single bonito within their catch. The fish count on Malihini was 25 anglers on a full day trip catching 125 reds, 75 rockfish, 44 whitefish, three sculpin, two sheephead and one bonito.

Good areas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island while fishing in 35 to 50 fathoms of water. Best area for a chance at finding some surface fishing action has been while fishing along the weather side of North Island.

Premier out of H&M Landing has been running weekday half-day trips into Mexican waters that usually target rockfish. On these trips they tend to fish the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island. Their most recent trip targeting rockfish was Feb. 15; the 23 anglers aboard the half-day trip caught an assortment of 229 rockfish and one sheephead.

Anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border need to keep in mind the annual two-month rockfish/groundfish closure went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The end of the closure is fast approaching but Anglers seeking to fish for the rockfish/groundfish species covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters to fish for those species until the closure comes to an end on March 1.

Boats fishing coastal trips have been able to do some occasional fishing in decent weather between the weather systems and the fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to provide a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin as well as a few halibut. There has not been much to report in the way of recent yellowtail activity but the areas where occasional yellowtail activity has been reported in recent weeks have been at the upper end of La Jolla, the lower end of La Jolla and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure area at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

With all the recent bad weather, the last trips out of the Oceanside Sea Center were on Feb. 10 when Chubasco II and Pronto combined to have 26 anglers catch 42 perch, 26 sculpin, 19 calico bass, 15 sand bass and 21 sand bass (released).

The weather systems have been keeping anglers off the water a lot of days but the current 10-day forecast looks to be a bit better. If one watches the weather forecasts closely and picks the good weather days to go out fishing there has been some fun fishing to be found. I hope you can get out there on a nice weather day and enjoy the fun fishing the winter months can offer. 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 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

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