This week I had the chance to do some fishing off Catalina Island in Southern California. I was traveling the L.A. area with local tackle rep Duke Smith, calling on tackle shops in the area. We also scheduled a day of fishing to try out some product and get a better understanding of the fishery and what products work for this dynamic fishery.
the Southern California Saltwater Fishery is very unique. The vibe, the people and the fish are all awesome. From the salty older crowd to the up and coming younger scene, they all love the resource and together create an exciting, vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that makes me want to be a part of it. All the tackle shops I visited were full of local anglers looking for the latest products to fish. Everyone from surf fishermen, kayak guys and big boats captains mingled together to talk about their day and look for the right lure. Without exception, every store had a knowledgeable staff, that made you feel like you were part of the in ”in crowd” and were happy to teach me about what works for them.
I especially loved the unique selection of tackle, made specifically for this market. Most big national brands are available at every store, but there is also a healthy supply of locally produced product that is both beautiful and productive. All you have to do is take one look at the wall of “Irons” in any store and you will see that these guys are serious about their local fishing. It was refreshing to see such a unique fishing scene, that has not been homogenized and has such an awesome local flavor.
There is a great regional tackle selection in all the local stores that you will only find in S. Cal.
On day three of my L.A. tour, we scheduled a trip with Pelagic Patrol Sportfishing out of Newport Beach, and Captain Puria Keshmiri. They run a super clean boat, and Captain Puria knows how to get on the fish. The goal for the day was to go to Catalina Island and try to catch a variety of fish using different methods so that we could get a good flavor for the fishery.
On the way over we ran across a huge pod of dolphins chasing bait. It wa an absolutely stunning sight, but it also meant that there may be some fish under the bait that the dolphins were chasing. We quickly rigged up a couple of Rapala X-Rap Mags and starting trolling them behind the boat.
It was early in the season for this type of fishing, but I was happy to give it a shot just to see what it was about. As expected, we had no luck trolling so we pulled our rods and headed over to the island. The rest of the day would be spent fishing various kelp lines, points and humps around the island, looking for Yellowtail, White Sea Bass and Halibut.
Beautiful Pod of Dolphins swimming around the boat!
we started of fly lining live sardines around the kelp patties. Using a VMC 7120 Live Bait hook, and Sufix Blue Camo 832 Braid tied to a fluorocarbon leader. We nose hooked the sardine and let it free swim around the kelp. The bite was pretty slow today, and we were not able to get any bites from Yellow Tail or White Sea Bass, so we switched to Halibut to see what we could find.
Some of tackle we used today: VMC Hooks, Sufix 832 Braid and Rapala X Raps
For halibut, we used a similar rig, but added a small VMC treble to the Fly liner hooks as a “stinger” and added a 6oz weight about 18 inches up from the hook to keep the bait swimming off the bottom. It did not take long for a us to catch a few beautiful California Halibut and one nice Sheep Head. The California Halibut are smaller than what I am used to, but every bit as beautiful and tasty as the ones you find in the Pacific NW.
Everyone caught fish today!
Although the fishing was a little slow today, the scenery and the opportunity to learn about this amazing fishery was fantastic. I feel like I have a basic understanding of what it is all about, but I want to return when the water is warmer and the tuna and other pelagic fish arrive…that is when the L.A. fishing scene is at its finest. If you have not had the opportunity to fish this area, I highly encourage you to visit some local tackle shops the next time you are in the area and try to get out on the water. You will discover a fresh, exciting and welcoming fishing scene that you will want to be a part of.
Thanks for reading,