Saturday, August 30, 2008

Clear water and overcast skies greeted me this week as I searched the shoreline for fish.

This week started off with a small west swell that lowered the water temp for a day or two and consequently slowed down fishing. But a replacement south swell began to fill in by Wednesday and the water temp and surf fishing rebounded.

The west swell broke down some of the holes and troughs where fish had been feeding so we moved around a bit to find the new areas that held fish. It wasn't a tough search as within no time we found the fish and were back in the action.

Another subtle change at the beach was in the number of sand crabs we are seeing and catching. There seems to be about half the crabs we saw just two weeks ago and now is the time they begin moving out and go into hibernation for winter. We've also noticed that crabs for bait have been much less productive as most fish, with the exception of perch, have moved on to other baits. So I moved on too!

I borrowed a page from a friend's book and went down to my favorite mud hole to collect some ghost shrimp for this week's fishing expeditions. I had heard that shrimp had been working great for corbina and wanted to see for myself.

I struggled at first slurping up baits with my Alvey yabbie tool. But I managed 6 great ghost shrimp before complete exhaustion set in.

The next morning I arrived at the beach in central OC just before sunrise and cast out my bait. Wham! fish on instantly. It fought like a leopard shark and was.

I hoped for a chance to catch a prize corbina as I had heard they were eating the shrimp so I put on new bait and cast it offshore. Seconds later, fish on.

No corbina. But wait--two spotfin croaker to 6lbs and a variety of fish that would stock an ocean aquarium!

Later in the week, I moved down to where rocks meet sand and found a great bite on 12-14" perch.

As the week drew to a close the fishing seemed to get better. This upcoming holiday weekend and all next week promise to have more good fishing as we have some great tides. The morning low tide going to a high tide will give us some great chances to fish for corbina and spotfin. The evening high tide will make catching crabs easier and is always a great time to fish for perch. It may be only a couple of weeks until all the sand crabs are gone but after the last two weeks that seems easier to accept knowing that other baits like mussel, clam, ghost shrimp and worms are working so well.

I hope you get some time to go down to the beach and do some surf fishing. It's been quite a while since I've seen it this good!

Check out the all-in-one surf kit today!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another great week of surf fishing with clear water, little wind and a small South swell.

This week produced another good week of surf fishing up and down the coast. We had some great reports from San Diego's Mission Bay, Solano Beach and Carlsbad of legal halibut and corbina caught on sand crabs, ghost shrimp and 2"plastic grubs.

In Orange and Los Angeles County the corbina fishing remained good with a decent number of fish being caught and many more seen. Orange County this week produced some nice corbina, yellowfin croaker, perch and a few big spotfin croaker.

The only negative being the large amount of kelp in the surf line. Other than that nuisance, the water has been very clear, with temps in the 70-73degree range. The winds have been light with a very small swell. Beginning yesterday we saw an increase in the swell from the South. This should build through the weekend and bring in more clear warm water and build some inshore holes that will help to improve fishing.

One thing I notice every year is how corbina, at this time in their season, begin to eat less sand crabs and begin to concentrate on other baits. This past week the best baits have been ghost shrimp and mussel. I've seen great success in just the last few days with these baits. They are best fished on the carolina rig 20-80 feet from shore. Use a 3/4 to 1 ounce sliding sinker to keep your bait on the bottom. These baits also seem to work best when cast out and allowed to rest on the bottom. Keep your line tight to the sinker and retrieve your line as it begins to become slack.

You can find fresh mussel on most rock areas and docks that are near moving water. You'll only need to collect about 20. Place them in a bucket overnight and they'll open slightly and be a lot easier to open once you get to the beach. Ghost shrimp can be harvested on your own, although few do this, or they can be purchased at a local tackle shop like Big Fish Tackle, in Seal Beach. Both work great for bait and will give you the chance to catch a corbina, perch or spotfin croaker.

This week I concentrated on collecting sand worms. These worms live 12" -36" below sand and about 10 feet below the high tide mark. Dig them up at low tide making a hole about the diameter of a trash can lid. Once you see one, as they move quickly through the sand, grab its tail lightly and dig around the body. They are about the length of a pencil and look a lot like a bloodworm. Both green and peach in color they work great on the carolina rig for surf fish.

Well, next week looks like another great surf fishing week as the summer now begins to wind down. The sand crabs are beginning to leave the beach so now is your last chance to catch them for bait. By the end of September or beginning of Oct. most will be gone for the winter. I would suggest using an assortment of baits this upcoming week and you'll have the best chance of catching fish.

We have some great tides coming up this week and now that we are past the full moon fishing should get better every day. With calm winds, warm water and a small swell forecast for this upcoming week I'm really looking forward to getting down there and doing some damage!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cool breeze, clear water and warm seas greeted me as I made my way down to the beach today.

Surf fishing has been good for the last two weeks with most reports I've received from anglers fishing exclusively for halibut.

Good catches of corbina, perch and even a legal white sea bass have been reported from Santa Barbara to San Diego this past week.

Both halibut and perch have provided some great catches for the entire summer. Lately, I've been out of town doing some surf fishing in the Sierras--the same gear for the surf with a bit different bait!

This week, over the last couple of days, I've been fishing for perch in the evening with some great luck. The water conditions have been clean with just a bit of kelp, small surf and water temps over 70degrees. The fish have been almost everywhere with the biggest perch being caught where rocks meet sand. Areas near jetties or harbor entrances have provided some of the biggest fish.

When I'm fishing in these areas I rig up using the carolina rig with a 6lb fluorocarbon leader and a very light (1/4th ounce) sliding sinker. Most anglers will cast away from the rocks, in fear that they will get snagged, but the fact is the biggest perch are in the rocks themselves!

I Cast just along the rocks and slowly pull your bait back into the rocks. I keep my line tight, as loose line is what gets snagged. When the big fish bite they don't nibble like a typical perch but rather inhale the bait and swim back (maybe just inches) into the rocks. When I feel the line tighten I reel down, set the hook and fight the fish out of their hole.

All the surf fish I catch are released back into the sea to grow and fight again another day.

Corbina reports have been few and far between--probably because so many people have been fishing for halibut. But I promise this weekend and next week to fish them hard and let them know I'm still around.

The reports I have had for corbina have produced some nice fish from 12" -25". Most fish have been caught on soft sand crabs and a few reported on ghost shrimp. The entire Huntington Beach and Newport areas have been good.

This time of year has always been a good time for alternative baits like ghost shrimp and mussel. Corbina seem to tire of eating sand crabs near the end of the summer and turn to other baits. Also, you must admit it's harder to get a bite this time of year on the crab when your hooked bait is competing with millions, no make that billions, of unhooked crabs!

Gathering sand crabs for bait has been easy for the past several months. This time of summer, look for large beds of crabs at the surface during high tide. You'll be able to collect as many as you need in just a few minutes after finding their beds. Keep them fresh by putting a piece of kelp on top of them--and if you plan to take them home to keep overnight to fish the morning, keep them in an ice chest where they can stay cool. Crabs like the temp to be about 60degrees, so don't get them too cold or hot.

It won't be long, maybe about four more weeks before they begin to disappear for the winter. Usually by Oct. 1st they're gone. So make plans this weekend to get down there and catch some bait.

This week, weekend and next week looks to offer some good surf fishing. We have a small building south swell which will bring some even warmer water into San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. Good morning low to high tides will provide your best chances for corbina with a nice evening tide for collecting crabs and catching perch.

So here we are coming up on the end of yet another great surf fishing summer--Have you gotten down to the beach yet--you better go soon because now is the time!

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