Marinas near me, Small Boat Spots
Marinas Near Me, Small Boat Spots
By George Van Zant
Just before the rockfish closure, we were lucky to have some hot sardines swimming in our bait tank. Unfortunately, they werenąt helping us catch a fish. The Horseshoe was engulfed in cold water and the calicosą were not biting. We decided to run out to the Southeast Bank and look for the old standby, cold water, rockfish. I have a number of “spots” in the memory of my GPS which have proven to catch fish. We arrived at the closest one on the list in 250 feet of water. Luck was with us, the southeast wind was blowing with an uphill current that allowed our light 6-ounce sinkers to bounce along almost straight down. My two fishing partners had three hook gangions with strips of mackerel and sardines on the hooks. I used two hooks with a mackerel strip on the bottom and a “hot” live sardine on the top. We passed the boat into the wind over the spot that appeared as a large cloud of life on the finder and dropped our hooks down about 30 yards from the clouds. Mistake! I knew better, we didnąt get a bite after a 15-minute drift. You should patiently circle the cloud until you meter the life cloud at itsą largest shape and then drop the gangions quickly, directly into the area. Depth finders read a large circle of the area especially in deep water so you have to find the exact spot of the life cloud. This is a trial and error thing that has many times meant whether I got to fish or not. On the next pass, I carefully judged the image on the finder and we dropped directly in the middle of the life. My buddies immediately loaded with small rockfish on the strip bait and I started reeling up my small sand dab too. About 5 cranks of the reel something grabbed my sardine and refused to budge. I thought it was the bottom until it ran off the hammered drag about 30 feet. I hauled up a 12 pound salmon grouper. After that we caught many, many slimeys to 12 pounds.
The Los Angeles area has hundreds of small fishing spots like this. The mall boat fisherman has a definite advantage over sportboats in fishing these tiny spots. Sportboats do not stop on these small rocks because they donąt hold enough fish for the multitude of anglers that fish on the sportboats. Thatąs not only true for the deep water spots but also for the shallow rocks that are abundant along our coastline. The Horseshoe Kelp area has hundreds of small rocks and rocky plateaus that support gatherings of target fish. If you can distinguish fish schools from all the other “stuff” that images on your finder you can catch much larger fish than the sportboats do.
The most important tactic around rocks to 100 feet is to make absolutely sure to get your boat directly over the rock. At this point drop a buoy over and head into the wind, or current, depending on which is the strongest. Go dead center into the wind away from the spot about 75 to 100 yards and drop the hook. Drift back slightly to the buoy, tie off the anchor about 50 yards from the buoy and start chumming. Chum with cut up squid or bait fish. But best of all is a chum bucket dropped over the stern. If the mackerel frenzy the scene stop chumming and kick back until they slow down. I almost never fish directly over the rock unless the desirables are not biting. Fishing directly into the rock will give up rock dwellers like sculpin, whitefish, sheephead, cabezon and halibut. Invariably you need heavy mono on a stout reel so the fish cannot run into the craggy habitat. Yes sometimes that can be a blast but basically I am fishing for bass, yellowtail, barracuda and white sea bass and one cannot be anywhere near the rock because thatąs the first place they charge on the hookup.
Fishing techniques arenąt complicated. I start out flylining what ever bait I am using. Live or fresh squid is the best but live sardines, mackerel, anchovies or brown bait is also used extensively. If they donąt bite flylining then I switch to 1/4 ounce white lead head with a 5/0 hook. If that doesnąt get them I go to a 1/2 ounce lead head and from there if they donąt bite I add a 3/4 or one ounce slip egg sinker. Finally, I drop a 3 foot leader off the main line above a 2-3 ounce torpedo sinker and fish the bottom. Usually one of these methods work but after all that and they donąt bite, either reset the anchor or go to another spot. I always have a heavy jig throwing rod on standby. Last spring as we were backing down on the spot I threw a large white jig to just this side of the buoy and a 30 LB white sea bass grabbed it on the drop about 10 feet down. No he didnąt make it to the rock, I have 40 LB test on that reel.
The life cloud that appears on the depth finder is a mixture of blue perch, blackfish and other bait fish. If they donąt appear somewhere in the area of the rock go on to the next stop. It is imperative that they be in the area. They have to appear in the chum line to attract your targets. If you have squid for bait they will relentlessly pound away at it until they get it off the hook. Usually though, their frenzied actions will draw the bass to the bait. The more perch that shows up the better the bass or yellowtail bite. It takes a lot of experience to identify a bass bite from a large blueperch bite. By the way a large blue perch fights twice as hard as a calico but is nowhere near the tablefare qualities.
Boat positioning takes careful scrutiny of your depth finder. You have to know the difference between fish life and all the other stuff that appears like turbidity, plankton, debris and the thermocline. You have to recognize the difference between mud and sand bottoms and the difference between hard sand and shale readings. On the shallow spots look for these signs first then look for the life cloud. In deeper water look for life clouds first because out there itąs mostly all hard bottom.
With lots of wonderful practice you wont have to follow the sportboat and the fleet around. Most likely if you get good enough they will find you.