Anglers Dodging Weather Systems for Wintertime Variety

By: Bob Vanian

Southern California anglers have had to fish around some recent weather systems that have brought wind and rain, but the good weather days have generally been providing some decent wintertime fishing for a variety of species.

Those fishing on the United States side of the international border still have to operate under the restrictions imposed by the two-month seasonal rockfish/groundfish closure, which will stay in effect until March 1.

Despite having to deal with the weather systems and the legislated closures, San Diego area anglers have still been able to go out and find some decent fishing, picking up a mixed bag of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. The occasional bonus halibut has also provided some extra excitement.

The best bet for bass and sculpin has been to fish the nearshore hard-bottom and structure spots, and the best shot at a bonus halibut has been to drift the sandy bottom areas adjacent to those hard-bottom and structure spots. Productive areas have included the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the kelp stringers off Imperial Beach, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the hard bottom off Pacific Beach that is located below the Marine Life Protection Act closure area, the Anderson and Buccaneer pipelines, and the artificial reefs outside Oceanside Harbor.

Those wishing to fish for rockfish have had to cross the border into Mexican waters — and anglers fishing south of the border have reported good fishing for a mixed bag of fish that often contains a good percentage of reds and salmon grouper.

Most boats have been focusing their efforts on areas such as the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank and the hard bottom into the north of North Island. A good depth range at the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank has been 65 to 90 fathoms. Also, give the hard bottom into the north of North Island a try in the 40- to 50-fathom depth range.

Premier, out of H&M Landing, has been running half-day trips to fish for rockfish. On a recent trip, they had a count of 15 anglers on a half-day trip catching two lingcod and 95 rockfish.

Private boater Harry Okuda of Southwestern Yacht Club fished the region around Los Coronados islands and the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank on a recent trip aboard private boater Clay Darrow’s boat Orca. Okuda said they were pre-fishing for the upcoming Southwestern Yacht Club’s Bottom Fish Tournament, to be held May 4. The tournament is open to the public, and the proceeds will go to benefit the San Diego Hospice and Institute for Palliative Medicine (for details, visit

Okuda reported that they found some decent fishing for rockfish, but he was not satisfied that they had found a “hot spot” for the tournament. He was looking forward to another scouting trip to find something even better, heading into the tournament.

News of good yellowtail fishing has been coming from boats fishing the San Miguel Reef area off Ensenada. Capt. Louie Prieto, of the 23-foot Parker charter boat It’s 4 Reels out of Marina Coral in Ensenada, reported good yellowtail action on two of his recent trips.

Prieto said he has also been picking up calico bass and an assortment of bottomfish. The two most recent trips accounted for catches that included 10 and 11 yellowtail — and these have been quality-size yellowtail running from 15 to 30 pounds.

Prieto reported that yellowtail have been biting best on yo-yoed iron, and he said they have had success on Tady A-1 jigs and Salas 6X and 7X jigs in the blue and white, chrome, green mackerel and blue mackerel colors.

He said the best results came when stopping on a spot where they have seen the yellows feeding on the surface. Prieto said the yellows have usually sounded by the time they reach the spot, but that the yellows are usually still lingering in the area and have been biting the yo-yoed iron.

There is some fun fishing to target on sides of the border, on good weather days during the current winter fishing season. 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 976-Bite at Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the phone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number, or via email at

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