ROCKFISH SEASON REOPENS: Rockfish season reopened March 1 and landings were busy from San Diego to Morro Bay as many half- and three-quarter day boats hit the water for the first time in two months. From Ventura to Morro Bay, the action on rockfish was excellent with full limits reported on many boats. Channel Islands Sportfishing in Oxnard had 11 boats out for the opening day, and 265 anglers landed 2,623 rockfish (limits for 10 of the 11 boats), 537 whitefish, 114 lingcod, 47 sheephead, nine sculpin, seven sole, a bonito and a perch — along with two yellowtail and a thresher shark. Red snapper made up a portion of the catch at landings from Oxnard to Santa Barbara. Stardust out of Sea Landing was on a three-quarter day trip with 35 anglers and red snapper totaled 98 of the 350 rockfish limit. They also had 12 ling cod. At Hook’s Sportfishing, both three-quarter day boats had limits of rockfish, and Coroloma had 60 red snapper for its 31 anglers who all had 10-fish limits along with 18 whitefish, 12 sheephead, and two sculpin.
Further south along the Los Angeles and Orange counties coast line region, the rockfish bite was nearly as good opening day (and since). In spite of the streaky yellowtail action in the Santa Monica Bay and at Catalina Island, most of the boats that had been targeting the yellows also took time to target the bottom fish. Pursuit out of 22nd Street Marina had 44 anglers on its three-quarter day trip and they landed 15 yellowtail and 101 bonito, along with 132 bocaccio, 108 rockfish, 72 red snapper, 27 perch, 21 whitefish, 18 sheephead, and 13 legal calicos. (The Pursuit’s top yellowtail count in the past week was 41 on Feb. 27.) The three-quarter day trip on Indian out of Redondo Sportfishing had 15 anglers at Catalina who landed five yellowtail, limits of 150 rockfish, 30 whitefish, 12 perch, six sheephead, and 18 undersize calicos that were released. Enterprise out of Long Beach Marina had 25 anglers on its March 1 three-quarter day trip and they landed full rockfish limits of red snapper at 250, along with 58 whitefish, 25 perch, 20 bonito, 14 sheephead, and five sculpin. Out of Pierpoint Landing, the half-day Southern Cal had 23 anglers and they landed 98 red snapper, 45 bocaccio, 29 rockfish, 12 whitefish, nine sheephead, and seven sculpin. Meanwhile, the three-quarter trip on Victory with 19 anglers produced 170 red snapper and 70 rockfish for full limits. Sport King, which has been focusing on Catalina Island yellowtail, was on a three-quarter day trip with 17 anglers and they landed two yellowtail, 65 red snapper, 33 bonito, 32 bocaccio, 22 whitefish, 21 perch, 14 legal calico bass, and five sheephead.
CORONADO ISLANDS YELLOWTAIL: For much of the past two weeks, the yellowtail action has lulled at the Coronado Islands and most of the three-quarter day boats out of San Diego making this run were focusing on the good rockfish action in Mexican waters. But the bite appeared to be coming back on at mid-week. On March 1, Malihini out of H&M Landing was on a three-quarter day trip with 13 anglers who landed four yellowtail, two barracuda, 110 rockfish, 10 sheephead, and one lingcod.
MEXICAN WATERS BLUEFIN, YELLOWTAIL, AND ROCKFISH: The weekend 1 1/2-day and two-day trips out of San Diego into Mexican waters for mixed yellowtail and rockfish action were busy. The big news was the first bluefin tuna of the year landed on one of these boats. Pacific Queen, out of Fisherman’s Landing, was on a 1 1/2-day trip this past weekend that returned Feb. 28. The 32 anglers on board had 109 yellowtail, 97 rockfish, one ling cod, and — the catch that made the most news — the first bluefin tuna of the season. It was nearly 50 pounds. Also out of Fisherman’s, Condor was also on a weekend 1 1/2-day trip and the 32 anglers on board caught 109 yellowtail and 100 rockfish. Fortune was also on a 1 1/2-day trip out of Fisherman’s and the 21 anglers had 65 yellowtail and 105 rockfish. Eclipse out of Seaforth Sportfishing was on a 1 1/2-day trip over the weekend, and the 27 anglers on board had 93 yellowtail and 135 rockfish. Pacific Voyager, also out of Seaforth, was on a two-day trip with 19 anglers and they landed 80 yellowtail and 190 rockfish. The Chief out of H&M Landing had 36 anglers on its weekend 1 1/2-day trip and they landed 62 yellowtail, 184 rockfish, and a bonito.
LOBSTERS AND SHORTS: The lobster season, which continues until March 15, has remained tough along the coast, with lots and lots of short, but the local islands remain pretty good. Gail Force out of L.A. Waterfront Sportfishing had 18 keeper lobster on Feb. 28, 38 on Saturday, and limits for all on board on Friday. Private boaters have been averaging from two to five per angler per trip, with limits no uncommon for the diligent.
INSTRUCTIONAL CHARTERS: The staff of 976-TUNA is hosting instructional charters throughout the season, offering advice to beginning or veteran anglers and on-the-water teaching of techniques for different saltwater species. The first trip of 2016 will be a three-quarter jaunt aboard Pursuit out of 22nd Street Landing on April 29. Cost is $75 per angler. Check 976-TUNA.com or call 562-352-0012 for details.
Southern California: Virg’s Sportfishing, Morro Bay, 805-772-1222; Patriot Sportfishing, Avila Beach, 805-595-7200; Sea Landing, Santa Barbara, 805-963-3564; Harbor Village Sportfishing, Ventura, 805-658-1060; Channel Islands Sportfishing Center, Oxnard, 805-985-8511; Hook’s Landing, Oxnard, 805-382-6233 (Port Hueneme Sportfishing has merged with Channel Islands Sportfishing); Malibu Pier Sportfishing, 310-328-8426; Marina Del Rey Sportfishing, Marina del Rey, 310-822-3625; Redondo Sportfishing, Redondo Beach, 310-372-2111; Rocky Point Fuel Dock (skiff rentals for King Harbor), Redondo Beach, 310-374-9858; 22nd Street Landing, San Pedro, 310-832-8304; L.A. Waterfront Sportfishing, San Pedro, 310-547-9916; Long Beach Sportfishing, Long Beach, 562-432-8993; Pierpoint Landing, Long Beach, 562-983-9300; Marina Sportfishing, Long Beach, 562-598-6649; Newport Landing, Newport Beach, 949-675-0550; Davey’s Locker, Newport Beach, 949-673-1434; Dana Wharf Sportfishing, Dana Point, 949-496-5794; Helgren’s Sportfishing, Oceanside, 760-722-2133; Fisherman’s Landing, San Diego, 619-221-8500; H&M Landing, San Diego, 619-222-1144; Seaforth Landing, San Diego, 619-224-3383; Point Loma Sportfishing, San Diego, 619-223-1627; Islandia Sportfishing, San Diego, 619-222-1164.
Mexico Landings: Sergio’s Sportfishing, Ensenada, 011-526-178-2185; San Quintin Sportfishing, San Quintin, 011-526-162-1455.