Hooker heaven

Good weather and rockfish opening equals higher passenger and fish count for San Diego fleet

Fishermen disembarking the Dolphin. "The biggest, nicest half-day boats on the West Coast are these Poole Hulls from the '80s."
  • Fishermen disembarking the Dolphin. "The biggest, nicest half-day boats on the West Coast are these Poole Hulls from the '80s."
  • Image by Alan Decker

As mostly decent weather and doable seas coincided with the week of the March 1 rockfish opener, the passenger numbers and fish counts nearly doubled over previous weeks, even though nobody got out the last two days of February. The local high spots are producing good vermillion rockfish along with a few lingcod and whitefish for the ½- and ¾-day fleet. Calico and sand bass numbers dropped as the kelp was mostly abandoned for the deeper reefs that have been unavailable to anglers since December 31. Still, the private boats and kayakers targeting the kelp are reporting a decent bite on the calicos and the sand bass are biting in the flats.

San Diego Bay has been putting out some real good spotted bay bass fishing along the eelgrass edges and an occasional halibut in the deeper holes. Down the coast in Baja waters, the yellowtail continue to bite the yoyo iron in 100-200 feet of water or so near the high seamounts that dot the nearshore waters from Ensenada to El Rosario. Further south along the Pacific coast, the fish are moving higher in the water column as the water warms and will eat fly-lined bait and surface irons. Along with the good yellowtail fishing just south of the border, there is real good rockfish, lingcod, whitefish and sheephead action in 80 to 200 feet of water all the way through the cool water zone that stretches from Punta Banda to the northern Vizcaino Bay.

Dock Totals 2/26 – 3/4: 975 anglers aboard 50 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 287 yellowtail, 9 calico bass, 9 sand bass, 2,405 rockfish, 274 sanddab, 2 rubberlip seaperch, 14 halfmoon, 37 lingcod, 3 halibut, 40 bonito, 265 sculpin, 60 mackerel, 1 cabezon, 23 sheephead, 150 whitefish, 2 bocaccio, 3 finescale triggerfish and 1 spiny lobster.

Top performing boats of the week:

February 26: The Pacific Queen called in with 64 yellowtail and 15 rockfish from their 1.5 day Baja coast trip with 33 anglers aboard. The Liberty carrying 36 anglers south for a 1.5 day run returned to the dock with 57 yellowtail and 12 bonito in the hold. The Tribute returned to the dock from a 1.5 day run with 32 yellowtail, 10 bonito, 5 lingcod, 15 whitefish and 85 rockfish for their 17 anglers. The Eclipse, on a 2 day run with 28 anglers aboard called in with 6 bonito, 11 lingcod, 32 yellowtail and 239 rockfish in the hold.

March 1: The Electra, with 14 anglers aboard out of Oceanside returned to the dock with 34 rockfish, 33 sanddab and 1 whitefish.

March 2: The Dolphin with 15 anglers aboard their ½ day run called in with 4 sheephead, 4 calico bass, 81 rockfish and 6 sculpin.

March 3: The Outer Limits reported 10 whitefish, 11 lingcod and 160 rockfish for the 16 anglers aboard their overnight trip.

March 4: The Chubasco II called in 75 whitefish and 75 rockfish for their 15 anglers aboard a ¾-day run.

Fish Plants: 3/10, Santee Lakes, Trout (TBA — fish up to 12 pounds, tagged trout worth prizes), 3/13, Lake Jennings, Trout (1500)

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