Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This week the weather continued to be beautiful and fishing was spectacular.  Although there has been a bit of pea-soup fog to deal with that’s just about the only complaint one can think of.  During this time of year fish like to bed down behind, below, among a group of rocks for food and protection.  With that in mind my fishing buddies and I like to take trips up or down the coast to fish new areas we don’t get a shot at during the peak summer season.

 So again, I went down to my favorite bait spot and collected some sidewinder crabs, mussel and ghost shrimp.  Also picked up a few bloodworms to make sure I had all the baits and headed north to Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Arrived just after sun rise and found just one person on the entire beach walking their dog.  Gathered our surf gear: 9’ spinning rod, 6lb pink Ande and the Carolina rig and walked up the beach a bit and fished around the rocks that line the points and shore.  Pinned on a sidewinder and it was game on.


Fishing for perch was unbelievable for about four hours until we ran out of bait.  Here’s a few of the barred surfperch we tussled with.  These perch were anywhere from 8-16” with a dozen in the 13-16” range.


The catch of the day, of a lifetime and what would be a new state record (if I didn’t let her go) was this beautiful calico perch.  We caught two, one very small and this 13 ½” fish. 
The calico perch lives mostly from about Morro Bay to the Oregon border.  This one must have slipped through the cracks when it was looking for a warmer place to live!


This upcoming week has some decent tides early, followed by flatter tides later in the week.  When I fish this upcoming week I’m going to concentrate on throwing the Lucky Craft and Kroc for halibut.  As next weekend rolls along the tides make a dramatic change as we will again enter into an astronomical tide period.  As long as the swell stays small (as predicted) and the weather relatively calm we should have some fantastic fishing.  Although it does look like we may get some rain later in the week, that system does not look to have much wind or surf associated with it and should not have a big effect on surf fishing.

 From now until May try your luck near areas that have structure, like jetties, harbors, estuaries, etc.  This is where the fish will be hunkered down to avoid the weather and also to hopefully find some food that washes off the rocks.

See you at the beach,


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just as expected, last week had some very sorry tides with little water movement and sleepy fish.  The good news seemed to be the small surf and warm weather.  This week and moving into next week we have some great tides and a chance for both good surf fishing and bait catching.

Took a few minutes to go down to my favorite bait spot, sucked up a few ghost shrimp and wrestle with a dozen sidewinder crabs.
On Sunday I decided to cover the beach from Newport to Seal Beach and was greeted at sunrise with thick wet fog.  Within the hour it cleared up and was a beautiful day.

First cast--Great Scott! -- a yellowfin croaker

At each spot we had a decent pick on medium sized barred surfperch.  Nothing big or exotic today—just a great day on the beach.


This upcoming week, weekend and early next week have some great tides for fishing.  This time of year it always seems that you have your best luck fishing at high tide.  The one exception may be at the peak low tide when fishing for halibut.   The rest of the time you are looking for perch and croaker who like feeding near shore in the inshore trough.

I like to find a minus-tide day and take a trip down to my local beach for a walk.  This is when I have a chance to find the holes and troughs that have been carved out by the surf.

Knowing that these spots are the best places to fish I turn toward shore and line them up with something permanent. 

When high tide returns, I come back to the beach, line myself up with my landmark and fish those holes and troughs.  By doing that you will have a much better shot at catching fish and spend a lot less time looking for them.

Provided this great weather keeps up fishing may get even better.  Just three years ago we had a similar dry winter making the spotfin croaker fishing at the beach the best in years.  In fact, one day I caught two at once!  One was hooked and an even larger spotfin was following and got tossed up on the beach by a wave.  Just before letting them go it made for the great picture (the hook and bait were still in the small fish!)
Tight lines and good fishing,

Home of the All-in-One Surf Tackle Kit


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The weather man said this week that a storm was coming so I made my way down to a favorite bait spot and picked up some ghost shrimp, clams and sidewinder crabs.  This time of year fish always find their way to a place where they have a bit of protection from the weather—so I made my way down to the rocks in Huntington Beach to find a few perch.

Beautiful conditions awaited me the day before the storm

 It was high tide and the water was fairly calm.  I cast out a sidewinder and before it made it to the bottom a nice barred surfperch jumped on the line

I switched baits to the ghost shrimp and sent my bait out into the current.  Another quick bite and a feisty walleye perch fought me to shore
 Another sidewinder and another perch
This went on until the tide dropped and the current picked up. 
Finally out of bait it was time to move on…

This time of year I like to fish near rock structure.  Jetties, harbor entrances and estuaries are all great places to surf fish once the water cools down below sixty degrees.  Fish find their way off the open beach and into estuaries or near rocks so that they are somewhat protected from winter storms and also because that’s where their forage will be.  Now that sand crabs are gone from the beach, rock areas really are the only places to offer food.

When I fish near the rocks I like to fish right where rock meets water.  We could call that the “snag zone” because you are right on the edge of the rocks.  This is my favorite area to fish because the biggest fish actually live right in the cracks of the rocks and dart out after a sizeable wave to feed.

 Did you see this great report from the SWAT team?  Dan Corey with a nice striper taken on a Lucky Craft in the South Bay...They caught three that day!

In order not to get my Carolina rig snagged I shorten my leader to twelve inches (6lb fluorocarbon) and lighten my sliding sinker to one-eighth ounce.  That way, if my bait/rig does get pulled into the rocks it is unlikely to snag and I can just softly “bounce” it out of the rocks and cast over. 

Sidewinder crabs, clams, worms and ghost shrimp make great bait this time of year for perch and croaker.  Also, grubs work well and for halibut fishing a small krocadile or a hard bait like a Lucky Craft lure are my go to baits.

This week we have some very small tides.  These tides don’t offer great opportunity but as the high builds in and the water calms down there will be some good times to fish at or near the high tide periods.  The extended forecast for the New Year’s week looks great with good weather expected, light winds and some awesome bait collecting and fishing tides.

Home of the All-in-One Surf Tackle Kit

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This week I decided to go back up to the LA/Ventura county line at Leo Carrillo State Beach.  Perch fishing had been so good there a few weeks ago it sure was worth another shot at the big fish. 
In the early dark of the morning we stopped along our way at Wiley’s Bait in Malibu to visit with the shop’s owner Ginny to talk fishing and kid each other about being friends as kids when I used to sell bait to their shop in the 1970’s.  Our very good friend, Fred Oakley, brought us lots of laughs and fishing stories.  His record perch is stuffed and mounted on her wall above the register so you’ll always have a chance to get an enthusiastic look at what a four pounder looks like—should you one day have the luck of catching one!

On we went to Leo Carrillo cutting our way though the fog.  We arrived just as the park opened and were the first car in the lot.  We were expecting a very high tide a bit later that morning so we needed to move fast to find our spot in the rocks up the coast.

When we first arrived at the spot the tide was just reaching the rocks that lined the bottom of the cliff and it was a bit nerve racking having to fight the swell and slippery rocks.  But don’t despair!  On our first casts perch climbed right on and it was off to the races. 

The trick was to cast very near the rocks that protruded here and there in the surf and allow your bait to roll around and find the strike point where fish were hiding.  Ghost shrimp, clam, blood worms and sidewinder crabs work.  Our biggest fish (in a batch of about 100 before running out of bait) were on the sidewinder.  Most fish were large with more than twenty over 14”.

When fishing on beaches that have rock structure be sure to downsize your sinker ( I used a 1/4th oz sinker) and shorten your leader to about 12’.  This will help keep to keep you from getting snagged and allow the current to “naturally” present your bait to fish.

This week we have a bit of weather coming in.  Although there will be wind with this storm we still have a very strong Southern current that continues to bring warm water up into our area.  Tide-wise we have some good tides early in the week making their way to some great tides for both bait catching and fishing later in the week.

I hope to see everyone next Saturday, November 2, at Fisherman’s Landing Tackle Day.  I will be holding a free seminar on the back deck of the Searcher at 9:30am.  No reservations are required just come on down.  I will also be in the Cousins Tackle booth selling my book for a measly $10 and would enjoy seeing folks to sign books and tell tall tales of surf fishing!

Look forward to seeing you there,


Home of the All-in-One Surf Tackle Kit

Friday, October 18, 2013

This last month has been a whirlwind of seminars, work and some very good perch fishing.  The best news is that my line of surf rods is finally here and will be out in about two weeks.  I will have them on both my site and in tackle shops.  After working with several companies to design a rod I was lucky enough to meet up with the folks at Cousins Tackle in Huntington Beach.  With the help of Bill and Wade we have designed and tested four surf rods that are guaranteed to catch surf fish!

See them at Fisherman's Landing Tackle Day, Sat. November 2nd.  I'll be there giving surf fishing seminars and in the Cousins Tackle booth with the new rods.  Please stop on by and have a chat!

In late September we had our last of the summer surf clinics at Bolsa Chica where the fishing was great for quite a few perch and small sharks with a few corbina thrown in...

Then it was up to Leo Carrillo State Beach where the perch fishing was fantastic with more than a dozen over 13" and a few 15 inchers!

From San Diego to Malibu several seabass, halibut and striper have been caught in the surf.  Although these fish are difficult to target they are definitely out in the surf and possible to catch.

For the past few days I have been fishing around the Bolsa Chica area and found quite a few nice sized perch.  The yellowfin and spotfin have not been biting lately but it won't be long before they are looking to forage before the winter.  I like to use clams (little neck, razor clams) this time of year as that's what they are eating.  You may notice the small "bean clams" at the beach at low tide and these beds are what surf fish are feeding on now.

This weekend and next week have some great tides for both fishing and collecting bait.  Go down at low tide to an area that has rocks which are covered at high tide and look around in the sand for clams, worms, crabs and ghost shrimp.  I use gloves and a small cultivator to turn over sand and rocks.  You'll be amazed at what you find and how well it works to catch surf fish.

Home of the All-in-One Surf Tackle Kit

Monday, September 2, 2013

     This August has had some ups and downs in the surf.  We started the month red hot with corbina everywhere.  But with strong West winds and no South swell the water temperature dropped and slowed fishing way down.

     The good news is that the water is warming and that has led to a shedding of sand crab shells making them a great bait to use right now.

     This upcoming week has some great tides for both fishing and making bait.  I would look to fish with sand crabs, ghost shrimp and worms for a few more weeks.  In early October look to change up your bait to clams and mussel for the early fall bite on spotfin croaker and the last of the summer corbina.  Halibut are active all year so anytime is a good time for the Lucky Kraft sytle lures in size 65mm and 110mm.  Also, don’t forget about how good Krocodiles and Kastmasters can be in ¾ ounce size this time of year.

      Regarding our seminar at Carpinteria State Beach…What a great place for a seminar and an even better place for surf fishing!

     Thank you to everyone who came to the seminar and also to the State of California for hosting us and to my buddy Bill Burhans for his help.

      I knew fishing was going to be good just after I arrived at the park on Friday.  We decided to walk the beach and check out where the best spots for surf fishing might be.

     The first thing I noticed was how warm the water was and how many millions of sand crabs there were.  In fact, there were so many crabs that their beds made a hump in the sand that created its own wave as water crashed over it!

    Not too many more steps and I couldn't believe what I saw:  A five or six pound corbina feeding in just inches of water.  Having lived in Santa Barbara for eight years I assumed that this was just a lucky encounter with a fish that is rarely seen above Ventura.  But how wrong one can be--when I saw another, even bigger fish, right at sunset.

      That evening provided some great perch fishing.  A fish every cast and sand crabs for bait right at your feet.

     The next morning our courageous group finished off some coffee and donuts and after a short seminar went down to the sand to fish.  Dozens of perch, a ray and a large corbina were landed.  Perfect tides, wind and waves made for a great day  at the beach.
     Carpinteria has a great camping area and some of the best perch fishing on the coast.  It's also offers off shore kelp beds which are an easy paddle from shore and are full of kelp bass and halibut.  One great thing about camping here is that you may not need to bring food.  Within walking distance is Carp's main street with dozens of restaurants serving everything from burgers and shakes to fine Italian.

Have a great week in the surf and send me a report at sometime!

Home of the All-in-One Surf Tackle Kit


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Great surf fishing continues this week with some outstanding fish reports.  I tried to get down to the beach several times this weeks as the tide was rising from high to low.  Because corbina and spotfin are only eating the largest soft crabs it took quite a while to find the perfect bait.  Although there are more sand crabs at the beach than I’ve ever seen most are hard and softies are tough to come by.
We have had a southwest swell and now a combined south swell pushing warm clear water up the beach.  The temperature has risen to around 70 degrees, which is up from 65 last week.  I found a good trough to fish and flung out the Carolina rig and sand crab.  The perch bite has been so wide-open they have turned into a menace and you really have to work to get through them to catch the big one.

Luckily, this yellowfin found my bait and got there before the perch!
In the meantime I hooked this huge (24+” wings) sting ray and took me for a ride.  Lifeguards have been treating dozens of folks with “stings” so please remember to shuffle your feet when walking our and back in the surf.  If you are unlucky enough to meet up with one soak the area in the hottest water you can stand and it will quickly reduce the pain…


Besides plenty of big corbina swimming around the surf has been full of little guys like this…


Time was running short and I had one big softy left.  I cast it out—but not even a tick.  I decided to walk down the beach a piece and ask another angler how he was doing.  Perch for him too so I moved on about 100 yards and cast out.  Once my bait hit the bottom my line stretched out in the current and ran north.  Line pulled tight, rod tip bent and I was on.  I fought the fish up and down the beach for about ten minutes until she washed up on the shore.  Warren was nice enough to take my picture so I could quickly let her go…

Warmer water coming up from the south is never bad.  This week I saw 17 corbina splashing on crab beds in the shallow surf, 2 big spotfin fighting over a crab bed in four inches of water and a school of grunion the size of home depot moving up the coast in anticipation of their evening landing.

Surf fishing does not get better than this.  Here are my suggestions for this upcoming 4th of July week:  I would watch the tides and fish the period from low to high tide.  That’s not to say other tides might be good too—but fish are keying in on sand crab beds and like to ride the tide up and over them.  I would fish with a large soft sand crab, mussel, ghost shrimp or bloodworm.  Morning and evening have been good.  If I were to fish for halibut I would go to and click on the grunion run link and fish beaches just after the previous evening’s run.  Lastly, I’d move along the beach to try to cover as much sand as possible in hopes of finding the really big one and catching it!

Check out my seminar page for information on the upcoming on-the-beach seminar in San Diego at South Carlsbad State Beach on July 19 and 20th.  Have a great 4th and remember:  “There is a fine line between standing on the beach and catching fish and standing on the beach and looking like an idiot!”  unknown…


Home of the All-in-One Surf Tackle Kit