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.
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