December 2018 Fishing Report, Southern California (#243)

Ken Jones

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Southern California December 2018 Fishing Report, SoCal (#243)

Remember — Lobster season is now open. Follow all regulations and make sure you have a lobster card in possession.

San Diego County Piers

Imperial Beach Pier – No report this month. Any volunteers to be a reporter for this pier? How To Get There: From I-5 take the Palm Ave. (Hwy. 75) exit and follow it to where Palm Ave. and Hwy. 75 divide. Follow Palm Ave. to Seacoast Dr., turn left and it will take you right to the pier.

Ocean Beach Pier —Shirley at the pier’s bait shop said most of the action has been on mackerel although an occasional bonito also enters into the mix. Some bass out toward the end along with the usual sharks and rays. How To Get There: From the north, take I-5 to the Sea World Dr. exit and follow it until it turns off to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. From the south, take I- 5 to the Nimitz Blvd. exit, then follow that road to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Follow Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to Newport Ave., turn right and follow the road to the pier parking lot.

Crystal Pier – Sue at the pier’s bait shop said most of the action has been on mackerel and, since the start of the lobster season, on lobster although people have to seek them out during the day since the pier is closed at night (and the pier is hard to hoop given the way the pilings are situated and the wood extends out past the railings). A few croakers still show up inshore and both sharks and rays continue to bite on the bottom. How To get There: Take I-5 to Garnet Ave. then take Garnet west to the foot of the pier.

Pepper Park Pier — No report although there should be a few mackerel and bass. We need a reporter! How To Get There: From I-5 take the 24th Street off-ramp west to Tidelands Avenue and go left (south) on Tidelands to the end.

Bayside Park Pier — No report although some croakers and sharays should be available. We need a reporter. How To Get There: From I-5 take the J Street off ramp and go west. Take J Street to Tidelands Ave., turn right. Take Tidelands to Sandpiper Way, turn right. Take Sandpiper to Bayside Parkway, turn left and follow the road to the park.

Embarcadero Marina Pier — No report although some mackerel and bass (kelp, sand and spotted) should be hitting along with some sharays. We still need a reporter! How To Get There: From the I-5 south, take the Front Street exit south to Market (just stay on Front Street, it runs into Market), take Market west to Harbor Dr. Turn left on Harbor Dr. and take it to 8th Ave., turn right onto Convention Way (formerly Harbor St.). Follow it a short block to 5th Ave. and the pier. It seems that with the new Convention Center the city is constantly working on these streets near the pier and renaming them; if you get confused remember that the park and pier are immediately to the southwest of the Convention Center. From I-5 North, approaching from the south, take the J Street exit, then go straight, three blocks up to Market, turn left and take it from there.

Ferry Landing Pier (Coronado) — Need a reporter although bass (a variety) always seem to be around as well as a mix of sharays (mostly round stingrays and bat rays). How To Get There: From San Diego, take the Coronado Bay Bridge (Highway 75) to Coronado. Once over the bridge you are on Third Street. Simply follow it to B Avenue, turn right, and follow it to the front of The Old Ferry Landing — the intersection of First Street and B Avenue. The pier sits behind the shops in the complex.

Shelter Island Pier — Minh, at Angler’s Choice, 1910 Rosecrans St, reports that most of the action continues to be on mackerel on the top along with some yellowfin croaker on the bottom. Also expect the usual sharks and rays. How To Get There: Take I-5 or I-8 to Rosecrans (Hwy. 209) and go west, turn left at Shelter Island Dr. and follow the road until you see the pier and the entrance to the parking lot.

Oceanside Pier — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said things have slowed. Croaker action inshore is slow although the barred surfperch bite is picking up and two shortfin corvina were taken by regulars using bloodworms. Mid-pier sees some sargo with most again being taken by the regulars. Opaleye continue to show around the pilings while mid-pier to the end also sees some bass—both calicos and sand bass—with one of the sand bass being a nice-sized 17-inch fish. Nothing much is happening on top. The mackerel seem to have disappeared although large jacksmelt are beginning to show (as is usual during the winter months). Shark fisherman do continue to fish for thresher sharks with limited success; the week I called saw three landed and two lost but all were small, 6-foot-long or so puppies. Lastly are the lobsters, which continue to be taken at night (but the numbers have dropped off since the season opener). How To Get There: From I-5 take the Harbor Dr. exit off the freeway, follow it and it will wind down to the harbor; where the road splits stay to the right on North Harbor Dr., and follow it to the pier.

Oceanside Harbor Pier — Forrest, at Angler’s Tackle, 1413 North Coast Hwy., said the fishing has been slow. How To Get There: From I-5 take the Harbor Dr. exit off the freeway, follow it and it will wind down to the harbor; where the road splits stay to the right on North Harbor Dr., and follow it to the pier.

Orange County Piers

San Clemente Pier — Scott at the “Pier Grill” at the end of the pier reports that there are still a lot of mackerel along with an occasional bonito, all out toward the end of the pier. He’s also seeing quite a few bass, both kelp bass and sand bass, along with a few small white seabass and halibut. Shark and ray action has been somewhat slow although a couple of threshers were taken by the regular shark fishermen. Lobster continue to be taken at night but the numbers have dropped from the opener. How to Get There: From I-5 take any of several exit streets west to El Camino Real, follow it to the center of town, and from there take Del Mar down to the pier.

Dana Harbor Pier — Breck at Hogan's Bait And Tackle, 34320 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point said there’s been some croakers taken by those using lugworms and mussels. A few small halibut have been reportedly taken on artificial lures along with a mix of bass on plastics. In addition, some large jacksmelt have also begun to show up. How To Get There: The pier is located in the Dana Cove Park area of Dana Point Harbor. From the Pacific Coast Highway take Green Lantern Road south to the harbor, turn left on Cove Road, and follow it to the pier.

Balboa Pier — Our reporter Snookie said: “No more big halibut [KJ—she caught a 12-pound halibut on November 18], but some little ones are showing up now. All of these are in the surf area. My buddy got a 36-inch butterfly ray, which I netted in my 28 inch net. That was a trick, but it worked. I net them and have someone else lift them. That one was 26 pounds. Have seen a few others but smaller caught since. We have been getting lots of sardines for bait. That is great for the fish, but the birds also love them. The loons, cormorants, and the Western grebes are just sitting there waiting for us to cast our lines out. They are getting too smart, but we will figure out something. The best being a slingshot is illegal. Darn! The jacksmelt are in to some degree, but they seem awfully small so far. Our most interesting thing the past few weeks has been a great white shark. I and my buddy saw it a couple Sundays ago in the surf area, and he (or she) was eating something. Boy, can they thrash about. I figure if they love stingrays when young this had to be a big bat ray. Oh, this shark was at least 10 plus feet long. The shark detector didn't work because it came along the shore from Newport Pier area. Their new system is geared to show big fish coming in from outside. Don't know what they can do about that yet. This week we had two shark alerts about 10 in the morning each day. They sent out a drone, but apparently didn't discover anything. They came Friday and watched again, but nothing. Interesting! By the way the shark was in the same area we saw the big one." How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take Newport Blvd. which will turn into Balboa Blvd., follow it west to Palm Street. Turn right and follow it to the pier and the adjacent parking lot.

Newport Pier — Generally about the same report as at the Balboa Pier. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take the Newport Blvd. turnoff and proceed west watching for signs directing traffic to the pier. The pier sits at the foot of McFadden Place.

Huntington Beach Pier — Michael at Let’s Go Fishing on the pier, says things have slowed down due to the weather He says it’s been really windy, waves have been breaking all the way out to the shop, and not too many fisherman are braving the conditions. He says his buddies have taken several halibut both keepers and small ones but most of the action has been on small round stingrays (a lot) and small skates (thornback rays). With few fishermen there have been few fish caught. How To Get There: Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Huntington Beach and the pier.

Seal Beach Pier — Jimmy, at Big Fish Tackle, 1780 Pacific Coast Hwy., says the weather has affected fishing but it’s the normal mix of fish: mackerel on top with some yellowfin croaker and an increasing number of surfperch taken on the bottom inshore. Quite a few gray smoothhound sharks and shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) are also being taken. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway simply take Main St. west and follow it to the pier.

Los Angeles County Piers

Belmont Pier —Jimmy, at Big Fish Tackle, 1780 Pacific Coast Hwy., says anglers are getting quite a few yellowfin croakers inshore, halibut mid-pier (where the porta-a-potties are located), and both mackerel and sardines on the top out at the end. Also expect some smoothhound sharks at the end. How To Get There: From the north take I-405 to the Lakewood Boulevard turnoff, and then go south to 7th Street, turn west (right) until you come to Ximeno Ave. and then turn left. Follow it to Livingston Dr. and go west. You will see signs by Ocean Ave. and Termino Ave. indicating the pier. From the south take the Pacific Coast Highway to 2nd. Street (Westminister becomes 2nd. Street when it crosses PCH), go west, follow to Livingston Dr. Follow it to signs by Ocean Ave. and Termino Ave. indicating the pier and parking lot.

Shoreline Aquatic Park Piers — No report this month but some mackerel and the usual white croakers should be available with a cast out from the pier. Expect a few bass and perch/sargo/croaker along the inshore area. How to Get There: From downtown Long Beach, take Pine Avenue south to Shoreline Drive. For the northernmost pier #1 follow Shoreline Avenue west and follow it around the lagoon to where the street ends. For the southernmost piers #2-#5 follow Shoreline Drive east to the markings for Shoreline Village, continue past the shopping complex, and follow the road out to near the end of the peninsula. You will see the piers.

Cabrillo Pier (San Pedro) — Alex at Rusty Hook B&T, 245 N Gaffey St., San Pedro said he had just returned from Kansas and really didn’t have a report although typically a few small halibut and bass (both calico and sand bass) should be available. Not much was happening on the top when he left. How To Get There: Take the Harbor Freeway (I-110) south; it will turn into Gaffey St. Follow it to 22nd Street and turn left. Follow 22nd St. to Pacific Ave. and turn right. Follow Pacific Ave. to 36th Street and the entrance to Cabrillo Park.

Green Pleasure Pier (Avalon, Catalina Island) – It’s the normal mix of fish — rock wrasse, senorita, opaleye, sheephead, jacksmelt, and kelp bass. Use sea-worms, frozen peas, mussels, and market shrimp. How To Get There: The trick here is to get to Catalina. Ships and helicopters make the journey several times a day from the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Newport Beach. Information is available on all of these by calling the Avalon Chamber of Commerce on the Pleasure Pier (213) 510-1520 or the Visitor's Information & Service Center (213) 510-2500. Once in Avalon there should be no problem in finding the pier, which is located at the foot of Catalina Avenue.

Cabrillo Mole (Avalon, Catalina Island) — Bonito are present some days and gone the others. However, the resident population of fish should be present—kelp bass, opaleye, sheephead, halfmoon, blacksmith, kelpfish, and scorpionfish (sculpin). How To Get There: The trick is to get to Catalina. Ships and helicopters make the journey several times a day from the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Newport Beach. Information is available on all of these by calling the Avalon Chamber of Commerce on the Pleasure Pier (213) 510-1520 or the Visitor's Information & Service Center (213) 510-2500. Once in Avalon there should be no problem in finding the mole that sits right where most boats disembark.

Redondo Beach Pier — John at the Redondo Coffee Shop and Bait Shop on the pier said almost all of the action continues to be on mackerel although bonito make an occasional showing. Nothing is hitting on the bottom. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway, take Torrance Blvd. west to the foot of the pier and the parking lot.

Hermosa Beach Pier — No report this month although a few mackerel should be around as well as some croakers inshore and flatfish mid-pier. How To Get There: Take the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) to Pier Avenue and follow Pier Avenue west to the pier.

Venice Pier — No report this month although a few mackerel should be found at the end and an increasing number of surfperch.` How To Get There: Highway 1 to Washington St., turn west and follow Washington St. to the pier.

Santa Monica Pier — Yosh at the piers bait and tackle shop, said things are very slow, in fact dead on almost every species. He said it’s windy and they had some rain and although there are still tourists at the pier, the number of fisherman is down. The one good news is that a number of halibut have been taken. It’s not a lot of fish but the ones caught have been good sized 26-30 inch fish for the most part. He said a friend caught a 32-inch halibut and gave it to Yosh since he was seeking out threshers not halibut. Can’t imagine someone turning up their nose at a 32-inch halibut; a lot of good meat there. How to Get There: From I-405 take Santa Monica Blvd. west to Ocean Ave. Turn left, go to Colorado Ave., and turn right onto the pier.

Malibu Pier — Ginny at Wylie’s Bait and Tackle says she’s finally back into the shop after having been kept away during the fires and road closures. She says people are again fishing the pier and she’s getting reports of lots of mackerel and increasing numbers of jacksmelt. The only reports she has had on bottom fish were some small perch and a few rays and sharks. She says it has been windy and that’s also put a damper on the fishing. How To Get There: The pier fronts on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) so just drive until you see it.

Ventura & Santa Barbara County Piers

Port Hueneme Pier — No report this month although there should be a few mackerel along with increasing numbers of barred surfperch showing up. How To Get There: From Highway 1 take Hueneme Rd. west until it turns into Port. At Ventura Rd turn left and follow it to Surfside Dr. Turn left again and follow it to the park.

Ventura Pier — No report this month although fishing for surfperch should be getting better and better. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Seaward Drive exit west to Harbor Drive, turn right and follow it to the pier.

Stearns Wharf — Mike, at the Bait Shop on the pier, says the water temperature has dropped which has affected fishing and the number of fishermen somewhat but that fish are still being taken. He says quite a few barred surfperch are being taken by anglers fishing near the Sea Center with mussels and shrimp while out at the end of the wharf mackerel continue to come and go. He says fair numbers of leopard sharks continue to be caught along with a few bat rays and thornbacks. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take Castillo St. or State St. west to the beach and follow signs to the pier.

Goleta Pier — Tiffany, at Hook, Line and Sinker, reports that the weather has been iffy at times affecting the number of anglers but when conditions are right the normal mix of fish are showing. Expect some mackerel at the end (on top) along with shark and rays action (on the bottom). Mid-pier to inshore yields some halibut while the pipe reef continues to kick out small rockfish and bass (both kelp bass and sand bass). How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Hwy. 217/Airport exit. Follow it to Sandspit Rd. and the Goleta Beach Park turnoff. Follow this to the park and the pier.

Gaviota Pier — The pier continues to be closed while the state moves with its typical glacial speed and bureaucratic response in efforts to actually get it open. How To Get There: From Highway 101 simply take the Gaviota State Park turnoff down to the beach and pier.