photo by flickr user NOAA Photo Library
By Zach Kucinski
With Spring just around the corner, fishermen have high expectations for a the upcoming fishing season! Last year, Southern California’s offshore seasons was one of the best in years; yellowtail, dorado, yellowfin tuna fish and bluefin tuna fish were all fairly abundant within a 40 mile radius of San Diego, and sometimes more abundant further south. The summer also produced a decent inshore season that seemed to provide quality over quantity.
As the winter waters remain cold all eyes are on the inshore scene. Rockfish season is closed each year from January 1st through the end of February, and generally the cold water does not provide anglers with a good opportunity to catch bass, barracuda, and yellowtail which are more aggressive in warm summer waters. When the water is cold in the winter, rockfish tend to be the only fish who don’t suffer from lockjaw. When rockfish season closes, it’s hard to get anything to bite. Some hardcore anglers will fish halibut with some success, others fish tight to structure for bass, but the cold water keeps the bite from being wide open. Homeguard yellowtail, yellowtail that live locally year-round and plump up on squid and mackerel, have put on a few showings off La Jolla. Anglers who are able to make squid have been productive and the heavy sinking jigs have been working, if you are willing to put in the effort. Rockfish are in season in Mexican waters and ¾ day boats have been putting a ‘reel’ hurting on the bottom dwellers as well as occasional the yellowtail. On March 1st rockfish season opened, and fisherman all across Southern California raced to the water to get a chance at rockfish, sheephead, whitefish, and lingcod.
This new season has also brought new regulations aimed at conserving and managing current fisheries. Among them is a new size and bag limit for all bass. The new minimum size is 14 inches and only 5 of any combination of spotted bay, sand, and calico basses may be kept. But this attempt at conservation has raised some controversy. The new minimum length of 14 inches, compared to its previous minimum length of 12 inches, may encourage the keeping of larger fish. These large bass are sometimes called “big breeders” because the fish can produce much more eggs than a smaller fish. Although unlikely, this could prove detrimental, but only time will tell. Other new regulations include a shallower minimum fishing depth, from 60 fathoms to 50 fathoms, and an increase in bocaccio bag limit to three fish per angler.
With the season now it’s time to get out there and catch some fish! Good luck to all fishing the season!