Posted by: socalsalty | February 8, 2012

SoCal Fishing Calendar

This week I posted the updated Top 10 Saltwater Fish in SoCal.  Now I’m going to give you a primer on when and where to go to catch them as we look forward to another great year of fishing in Southern California.



sand bass


Already this year, a few white seabass (#3) have been taken.  Brandon Hayward posted a great article yesterday on Western Outdoor News letting us all know about some good spots to target WSB not taken away by the MPA’s.  Then over the weekend, some lucky anglers who skipped the game were rewarded with winter yellowtail (#1) on the yo-yo iron down on the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Landing in San Diego.  You never know…that’s what I love about fishing in the ocean.  Typically though, when you go out these months you’re looking to catch sculpin (#10) and bass (#6).  Most of the boats will be targeting these 2 fish.  These months are also a good time to work on getting yourself a halibut (#4).  Dana Wharf has halibut targeted trips every Friday and Sunday.  The Native Sun in Long Beach is targeting halibut now.  And the Point Loma down in SD is running bay trips targeting halibut Fri-Sun.


vermilion rockfish, aka red snapper

sheephead (top), ling cod (bottom)

Rockfish (#9) season reopens March 1st and this year, ling cod (#5) opens on the same day.  I’ve got an overnight trip on the Pacific Islander out of Channel Islands Sportfishing opening weekend and am hoping to knock off both of these fish from the list.  Sheephead (#8) are also back in play.  If I come out of opening weekend with 5 of 10 taken care of (sculpin, rockfish, sheephead, bass, and ling cod), I’ll be feeling very good.  If I’m at 6 (+ halibut), I’ll be ecstatic.  Continue to work on halibut, and keep your eye on what the overnight boats like the Freedom are doing out at Clemente and Catalina islands, as this time of year is when you start to see more consistent white seabass and maybe a yellowtail in their count.



Barracuda (#7) usually start to show up about now.  It’s all about water temperature.  As we get out of temps in the 50’s, it’s game on.  Also, the biggest yellowtail day of last year happened in May off the Coronado Islands out of San Diego.  Not sure how that’s going to play out this year with the Mexican Visa issue, but my guess is if there are yellowtail around, the 3/4 day boats will cross the border to get them.


white seabass

Gametime.  Pretty much the best time of the year to fish in SoCal.  The local boats are catching barracuda and bass, and with some luck a yellowtail.  Beat the heat and get in some twilight trips in the summer for an enjoyable way to catch these fish.  This time of year is when the tuna (#2) watch is on.  Stay tuned to what’s happening on the overnight and 2 day boats out of San Diego.  Up in the Channel Islands, they’re catching big halibut and white seabass.  The world record California Halibut was caught up there last year in July.  Planning is key.  Get your reservations in early as if you wait until the last second, you’re going to miss out on the best action.  Get your buddies together and book trips for these months now.  If by chance you find yourself on the sidelines, don’t overlook opportunities to kayak fish.  You don’t have to buy one, I rented last year off Shelter Island in San Diego and caught sand bass and sculpin.  I may spend some time kayak fishing in Dana Point and MDR targeting halibut too if I don’t have one yet.


yellowfin tuna


The tail end of Summer fishing, but still lots of great fishing to be had.  If you don’t have your tuna or yellowtail by now, these months are probably going to be your last shot.  I got my tuna last year over Labor Day Weekend and my yellowtail in October.


By now the water has cooled off, and we’re looking at the bottom of the water column again.  I’ll assume if you’ve gone out at all that you have your rockfish, but if you don’t have a ling yet, now it’s crunch time.  Same with halibut.  Same with sheephead.  I’ll be doing my local trips mostly out of MDR and overnights up in the Channel Islands.  Dana Wharf’s halibut derby kicks off in November.  Last year, the Freedom was scoring BIG sheephead out at San Nicolas this time of year.

There you have it.  I’ve layed out my gameplan.  Come out and join me on the water.  Tight lines!


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