Posted by: socalsalty | May 17, 2012

3 Tips For Enjoying Cuda Madness 2012


A couple weeks ago, as the yellowtail bite emerged off La Jolla, then migrated south to the Coronado Islands, I started to report that they were seeing barracuda down there as well.  Before I left for Baja, cuda started to emerge out of Long Beach.  This last weekend, I was getting reports of a few being caught here in Santa Monica Bay.  I knew that once they settled in, it was only a matter of time before the bite went off.  Yesterday was that day.  They’ll likely be around now for most of the summer, but if you want to experience the excitement of a wide open bite, grab your jig stick and go…NOW.

As is often the case when a bite like this happens, I notice the non-regulars out there having problems or getting frustrated because they aren’t used to or aren’t properly geared up for this kind of fishing.  Here are some tips.

1. Use heavy line

20 or 25 lb test is not going to cut it.  Some people like to go 30 lb test as they feel it makes their jig swim better, but I like to go with 40 lb test when throwing the jig.

2. What are they biting on?

Nobody fished bait that I saw yesterday.  Part of the reason is that the bait we had on the boat was the same tiny anchovies we’ve been seeing most of this year.  The bigger reason though is you are going to have a much better hook to land ratio when throwing the jig.  When I say, “throwing the jig”, I’m referring to throwing iron.  In the picture to the left below, you’ll see my favorite barracuda jig…a Tady 45 in chrome with blue mackerel stripes. Jake refers to it as the “cuda killer.”  You’ll also notice that the fish bit Captain John’s black and white jig too.  Both are surface iron.  I saw guys get bit on myriad patterns…blue and white, mint, scrambled egg etc.  Any good jig fisherman is going to tell you that it isn’t the color so much as how it swims.  Figuring that out is best done before you pay to get out on a boat!  Get in some practice time.  I put in time when I was on vacation last week, and it paid off.  Even when you fish a lot like me, I hadn’t really picked up my jig stick since last summer and getting back in the rhythm was time well spent.  Go to a dock, beach, even a big grassy area at a park to just practice casting.  It all helps.

2 jigs, one fish

Salas 6X Heavy









In the other picture, you see a Salas 6x Heavy in a green mackerel pattern.  When we first started yesterday, Capt. John said the fish were holding 30-40 feet below the surface.  You can always use a surface iron and let it sink, but I’d rather use a heavier jig that’s made specifically for this scenario.  It’s good to have different kinds with you, so you can adapt on the water.  I threw it twice…got bit both times.  First fish I landed.  Second fish I lost to a seal…taking the jig with him.  Damn seals.  Which brings me to my last point…

3. Check your line and drags often

These fish are pretty big.  The Redondo Special reported a 13 lb-er winning jackpot yesterday!  When I threw the green mackie jig above and hooked up on my first cast, I didn’t bother to check the drags after landing the fish and casting out again.  Big mistake.  The first fish loosened up my drags, so the second fish was flopping around for too long when a seal took him and my jig with it.  Also, check your line often (in between stops is good) for cuts and abrasions.  These are toothy fish and they wreak havoc on your line.  If you notice that your line is rough, cut off and retie higher up on the line where it’s fresh.

I hope these tips encourage you to go out and enjoy this bite.  Hopefully they help you come home with fish in your sack.  Tight lines!


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