Saturday, May 19, 2007

Orange County and Ventura Surf Fish Report

One would never have imagined they could catch even one fish with such a terrible red tide.

The fish were swimming in a sea of tomato soup and must have been bumping into one another today. In all the years I've fished I've never seen a red tide like this. Not the color really, but the shear size of the tide. It runs from Newport Harbor to Long Beach, and as far as I could see, out to at least 10fathom--a good 5 miles offshore.
Usually in conditions like this fishing is downright bad. There have been many theories about why the red tide is bad for fishing. Some say the tide removes oxygen from the water and makes it harder for fish to breathe. This may be true but I've also noticed that red tide doesn't afford fish any shelter. Look at it this way: At night most fish hunker down near structure for safety. Why? Because in the dark, fish can't protect themselves from being eaten. They can't see predators approaching and become an easy target. The same holds true for red tide.

Fish don't want to expose themselves during red tide because they can't see their enemies approaching. So what do they do? They find an area where they can hide until the coast is clear and they can swim out from their homes and look for food. I've done extensive diving in Mexico, Hawaii and here at home to watch surf fish in their element. One thing I've seen is that fish, especially the big ones, will float in very strong currents right in between rocks and only come out for a split second to feed. You'd be amazed what a thrashing they take with the waves pounding against the rocks--but that's what they have to do to survive.

What that means for us as surf fishermen is that all is not lost in a bad red tide. Just remember to fish in areas where fish might congregate during these occurrences. Instead of casting your bait 30feet from where rock meets sand just cast your bait right next to the rocks. Fish will be locked up in the safety between the rocks and will be more than happy to bite. In fact, some of the best bites may be during these times when fish are hungry because they can't go out and forage as usual. Just remember to bring lots of sinkers and hooks because you're going to lose a few in the process.

With all that said, surf fishing yesterday was fantastic. While all the guys I saw on the beach were crying the blues, I knew that with the right bait and fishing in the right spot I was destined to get bit.

The secret of late has been to use fresh sand crabs and fish up against where rocks meet sand. Many areas are still great fishing in these conditions. Some examples might be the Newport jetties, Bolsa Chica, the Huntington Harbor jetty, Long Beach jetty and almost any where rock meets sand.

Yesterday produced some giant surf perch up to 14".

Although conditions are tough with the red tide be sure until this passes to try where rock meets sand. Also, now that the water is over 60degrees try using live baits along with your artificials. Sand crabs from now until September will be available, best collected at high tide, and will be the bait of choice for big fish. Lug worms and ghost shrimp will also work well. The largest fish of the day was caught a frozen/defrosted ghost shrimp. Should you have any shrimp or sand crabs left over, try freezing them immediately--they will still work well on days when you can't get live bait.

Up North in Ventura we've had some good reports as the surf fishing starts to heat up. Our Ventura correspondent John let us know: " Ventura has been a bit windy also. Later in the day with the rising tide the fish seem to be more cooperative. Loving that #4 Andes line. Perch are taking the smaller motoroil grubs. Went by Wylie's again this week and picked up some weighted grub hooks. I'm hoping that the extra weight will keep the grub on the bottom while fishing the eddies by the jetty. We'll see."

Thanks John for the report were looking forward to your next report and to see if the heavier grub hooks may work better at keeping the bait on the bottom.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Orange County Surf...

I was surprised by the strong west winds that were blowing first thing this morning. No fog but a strong cool breeze.

I fished central Huntington today and was surprised and disappointed to see a stretch of red tide just offshore. At least the red tide was not widespread and hopefully will break up. Some areas like Laguna and Dana have not been so lucky and have experienced greater than normal red tide blooms.

I decided to get today's bait last evening. I took a look at the HB pier cam to see the conditions and noticed the lifeguard report said the water was 65degrees! Eventhough I knew it was only 60 I still was excited to go look for a fresh bed of crabs.

As usual, the birds were working the beach so I knew I was in the right place. Within minutes I had a great collection of crabs. The season's just beginning with many tiny crabs and other large egg laden mothers. It's the best bait available!

So I fished with the crab up the beach, walking and fan casting as I went. Bites were scarce so I tucked in close where rocks meet sand. A great eddy had been created away from the wind and big perch schooling up for shelter were mine for the taking ( catch and release, of course).

I was bit on every crab and the fish all were in the 12-13" range with one a healthy 14". After catching a handfull I was cold and weary of the fight and walked back down the beach. Now that, was a great day of fishing!

Days like this are always unusual because you have such poor conditions: red tide, murky water, wind, etc. But because the fish school and don't spread out, once you find the pocket, you're on the spot.

Tomorrow you will have some challenges with wind and water quality. My suggestion is to find areas that have cleaner water and may also be protected from wind--like in jetty or harbor areas. There's no doubt the fish are hungry and both live bait and grubs are working well.

Now's a good time to get your gear together for the surf. Take a look in my store for everything you don't already have or just for some extras. The products there are the ones I use every day and as you can see they work! Also, always feel free to send me an Email if you have any surf fishing questions or reports. We can always be reached at:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

It was so beautiful today that I almost felt guilty for ditching work. But after the first few perch, all guilt was gone!

Today the conditions in north Huntington Beach were picture perfect. Flat glass seas, small surf and clean water. I fished during the morning low tide and had a good look at where the holes are once the high tide returns.

As has been the case over the winter, most fish were in schools and I had to walk a bit to find them. A friend on the beach told me that earlier he saw two large corbina stalking crabs near the Bolsa Chica jetty. I fan casted from the end of the jetty for a while using a 3/8oz Krocadile but only got one bump. I have caught and seem more big corbina, stripped bass and spotfin caught on the Kroc than on any other lure. But one thing to keep in mind is that unlike grubs, bait, etc. you may cast 100 times before you get a bite--that's real patience!

Back down the beach there was a great bite on 12-14" perch with the bite just getting better as the tide began to rise. The 1 1/2" motor oil grub with red flake, fished on a 4lb carolina rig, did the trick. Be sure to use super sharp hooks. I use #2 or #4 split shot hooks because they are so wire thin and super sharp. Dip your grub into hot sauce and you're ready to go.

I would have liked to stay all day. And I can guarantee you fishing just got better as the day went on--but I have to get back to work!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Orange County Conditions...

Another day of wind is pushing onto the coast and wreaking havoc on the surf fishing.

Strong winds have lowered water temps this week and made for some tough fishing. But all the news is not bad. There have been some reports this week that the sand crabs are starting to show up at our local beaches. I had the chance to see some big-toe sized crabs being used by fisherman on the Huntington Beach pier. Although they wouldn't tell me exactly where they caught them they did say it was in the Seal Beach area.

Once the wind calms down, which should be by Sunday ( check out "Swell Watch" on my website) we should have the water temp come up a bit. By later next week we'll have some great morning high tides and next weekend should be fantastic.

We're planning a trip south and will report back from south OC and north SD county next weekend. A team member is prefishing south OC today and I'll have a report later this weekend. I'll also be on the lookout for sand crabs this week during the evening high tides--I'll let you know where and when they are available.

Remember, this weekend there is a no-take grunion run which means look for the halibut to come into shallow water to feed. A great lure to use for halibut is the motor oil grub, the krocadile lure, the kastmaster and rapala style lures. If you're inclined to use bait try a live smelt (you can catch them from most docks) or a frozen anchovy. Once you are allowed to take and keep grunion they are great frozen and used on the carolina rig for halibut bait. One last thing, if you're looking for halibut try Cherry Beach in Long Beach between the Belmont pier and the jetty--this has always been a productive area this time of year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Surf Fish Report

Fog settled in this morning as light winds brushed against the Orange County shore.

A small wind swell from the West was pushing three foot waves ashore. The water color was a bit off color from the wind but didn't seem to have much of an effect on today's fishing.

As with the last few weeks surf fishing has been slow. Most fish have been schooling in specific areas--and the only way to find them has been by fan casting and taking a walk down the beach. Once you find the biters they are there and ready to eat.

Today's grub color: Motoroil with red flake

Most have read about the Domoic Acid contamination along the coast. Several web sites including have had some great posts about the subject. Here are a few things to keep in mind: You can not see the acid as it does not produce a red tide. It is best not to eat any shell fish or near shore fish until the contamination dissipates. Cooking shell fish does not remove the acid. If you are using mussel for bait, as I do, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after baiting your hook and don't get your hands near your face.

Although we have not heard of human cases we do know that the acid is potent and can lead to sickness and death. The acid occurs naturally, yet not as potent as has been the case this year, and it will dissipate. No one knows it's origin but it probably spawned as a result of our last storm, the strongest of the year. As street run off pushes out into the ocean the nitrogen it contains provides fertilizer for the acid and creates a bloom.

Be safe and don't eat fish and especially shell fish, lobster, clams or mussel until the authorities say "all clear."

Reports from up and down the coast give us some hope that good fishing is on the way. Over the last two weeks Ventura has kicked out some nice perch. John in Ventura reported fish in the 14inch range using 3inch grubs. A great report from Phil, coming out of San Onofre from last weekend, let us know that the spotfin are here and it looks like they're going to stay. He had three spotfin caught on mussel--his largest 23inches long and 14inches wide. All on 4lb test. Along with the spotfin they also had a nice bite on the yellowfin too. Nice goin' Phil!

This week and weekend will be okay but the challenge will come from the lack of tide movement and the full moon. Look for next week to be great as the moon wanes and the tides improve.

Little sign yet of sand crabs with just a few small ones showing up in the net. As the water warms they will begin, any day, to come to the surface. If you need them before that go to areas that have warmer water, like seal beach pier and try to find them there.

I'll be the first to let you know when the crabs are up and ready to be cast to a waiting corbina.