Rockfish, Reds and Bass Continue to Be December Mainstays

By: Bob Vanian

San Diego area anglers have had to dodge a few weather systems during the early part of December, but the good weather days have generally been productive fishing days — with a mix of rockfish, reds, sand bass, calico bass and sculpin making up the bulk of the catch. There remains a chance at catching a bonus yellowtail, white seabass or halibut in the midst of the holiday season, but the fishing for these species has been on the scratchy side.

Reds and rockfish are included within the annual groundfish closure that is set to begin Jan. 1, 2013. Anglers are continuing to get in their last shots at the various groundfish species before the groundfish season closes. This is an annual two-month closure that stays in effect until March 1, 2013.

One of the big changes of the past 10 days or so of fishing has been that squid have become difficult to catch for bait at night, along the San Diego area coast. It has become hard to find squid in enough quantity to readily scoop it up and fill your bait tank.

Some private boaters have been able to jig a few pieces of squid during the night and early morning daytime hours, but the squid have not been easy to come by. If you want to give squid fishing a try, a good bet would be in 8- to 15-fathom depths at Del Mar, Torrey Pines, the area outside of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) closure zone at the upper end of La Jolla and the area below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla.

Live squid have been the preferred bait, when available, but live anchovies, fresh dead squid and fresh frozen squid have also been effective. For anglers using fresh frozen or fresh dead squid, best results have come when using squid that is of a grade that is suitable for human consumption. Live sardines, sardine strips or mackerel strips will also work well, if squid and anchovies are unavailable.

Boats fishing out of San Diego Bay have found their best action while fishing the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline. There has been a mix of reds, rockfish, sculpin, sand bass, calico bass and perch biting at the pipeline.

In the Point Loma region, there has also been some action to be found on a mix of reds, rockfish and bass while working hard-bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy, the Dropoff and the Green Tank. The structure of the Point Loma Pipeline has also been productive for a mix of sculpin and assorted rockfish.

Boats fishing out of Mission Bay have been working areas in the La Jolla and Pacific Beach region and have been finding a mixed bag of reds, rockfish, sand bass, calico bass and sculpin biting.

The La Jolla and Pacific Beach areas have also had reports of occasional action on yellowtail, white seabass or halibut. Fishing was better a couple of weeks ago when live squid were readily available to use for bait, but there is still a chance at finding some action on these prime species.

Some of the best fishing in the La Jolla region has been coming from the hard-bottom area below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla. This is an area that produces occasional action on white seabass and yellowtail, in addition to bottomfishing for reds, rockfish, sand bass and calico bass.

This hard-bottom zone has anglers fishing below the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach, in 15 to 19 fathoms of water.

Another productive zone in the La Jolla region has been along the edges of the kelp beds and at hard-bottom areas outside of the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla. Be advised that you must stay outside of the MLPA closure area while fishing at the upper end of La Jolla.

This area has been productive for a mix of reds, rockfish, sculpin, sand bass and calico bass. Also, look for occasional showings of yellowtail along the outside edges of the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla.

Boats fishing areas off the North San Diego County coast have been finding a mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, rockfish and reds biting, in various hard-bottom and structure spots. Reports of productive fishing have come from boats fishing hard-bottom spots off Carlsbad and Box Canyon as well as from boats fishing structure spots such as the Anderson and Buccaneer pipelines, and the artificial reefs in front of Oceanside Harbor.

There is good fishing to be found during the holiday season. Make sure to pick the good-weather days, and go on out there and have fun catching some great-tasting 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 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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