Local Anglers Are Catching Bass, Sculpin and Halibut

By: Bob Vanian

San Diego area anglers continue to focus their efforts on fishing for sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and halibut while in state waters, as a seasonal two-month rockfish/groundfish closure remains in effect until March 1. Those wishing to target rockfish have been traveling south to fish spots in Mexican waters — and they have been finding good action on trips to Los Coronados islands, the Finger Bank and Punta Colnett, among other places. 

When fishing or boating in Mexican waters, make sure you have a Mexican fishing license and a Mexican visa for each person aboard. The boat operator also needs to make sure that he or she has all the boat registration paperwork aboard. It is good practice for each person to carry a passport: the best means of identification. 

Boats fishing on 1.5-day trips south to Punta Colnett have been doing very well on an assortment of rockfish. Most trips have been highlighted by limit fishing for big reds and some nice-sized lingcod. 

There have been occasional flurries of yellowtail action reported by boats fishing the Punta Colnett region. Most of the yellowtail have been located down deep with scanning sonar, and the few that have been caught have been biting on yo-yoed iron.

There have not been many boats fishing around Los Coronados islands lately, so reports have been scarce. The best areas for rockfish around the islands have been along the outer ridge areas between the outside of South Island and South Kelp Ridge. A couple of other productive areas include the hard-bottom spots north of North Island and at the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank in Mexican waters. 

The sportfishing boat Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing made a recent three-quarter-day trip into Mexico, with 24 anglers aboard catching 46 rockfish, 17 whitefish, one lingcod and one sheephead. 

Boats fishing the San Diego area coast have been catching a mixed bag of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and halibut. There have been occasional white seabass and yellowtail caught, but for the most part, there has not been anything consistent to report. 

The Imperial Beach area has been producing bass, sculpin and an occasional halibut for boats drifting areas near the Imperial Beach Pier. Some of the better sand bass fishing in the region has been found by boats fishing southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. 

The Jetty Kelp out in front of Mission Bay has been productive for sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Another productive zone for bass and sculpin has been in hard-bottom areas outside the kelp beds along the middle part of La Jolla. There have also been a few halibut biting for boats drifting the sandy bottom outside of Mission Beach. 

Off La Jolla, occasional schools of yellowtail have been spotted working near the surface. The showings of yellowtail have been erratic, and the fish have been hard to hook when they do decide to show. It’s a good idea to have a surface iron outfit rigged up and ready to cast, should you get lucky and be in the right spot at the right time when a school of yellowtail pops up. 

The Oceanside area has also been producing a mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and halibut. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star out of Helgren’s Sportfishing reported that squid have bee available to catch for bait at night, for boats fishing outside the Anderson Pipeline at Carlsbad and at San Mateo. Look for an occasional white seabass to bite in the squid area. 

Cacciola reported that sand bass have been biting well on the live or fresh dead squid, fished on a dropper-loop rig. He suggested working structure and rocky reef areas for sand bass and sculpin. Try the Anderson and Buccaneer pipelines and the artificial reefs out in front of Oceanside Harbor. 

Sandy-bottom areas adjacent to structure have been producing some nice-sized halibut. Cacciola reported recent halibut of 32 and 35 pounds taken aboard Sea Star. Cacciola also reported that a private boater recently weighed in a 45-pound halibut. 

The winter fishing season can be lots of fun and usually produces some great-eating fish. 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 976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service at (619) 226-8218. Vanian’s reports can be heard at 8:20 a.m. each Sunday on the “Let’s Talk Hookup” radio show, at 1090 AM. He always welcomes your fish reports at (619) 226-8218.

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