San Clemente 1/6 - a variety pack of croakers

evanluck

Well-known member
#1
Started fishing around 5:30AM. I need to adjust my approach for these morning trips. I need less gear, a more focused approach, and I need to release all fish that are not target species.

I fished two setups. 1 fishfinder baited with a whole squid and the other a high-low rig baited with blood worms and alternating between shrimp and mussels. First fish I caught was a small black croaker. Did not feel it bite. Just reeled in to check my bait and it was there. It bit on blood worms. All the fish I caught today were on blood worms but both shrimp and squid were getting attention. Perhaps the mussels too but they may have just been falling off the hook. The next three fish I caught were all spot fin croakers. 2 small sized and 1 big enough to call medium. The bigger one was an exciting fight pulling hard and head shaking like crazy. I finished the day catching a small yellowfin croaker that jumped on my pole while I was cleaning the spotfins. There was also a small wall eye surf perch in there somewhere.

My mistake was getting too distracted with my larger setup. I'm fishing that whole squid on a fish finder to try to catch a larger kelp bass or sheephead. But right after I cast it, it gets almost constant attention from what I assume are spot fins. They just nibble at the bait until the squid head is gone or the entire squid is gone. I needed to recognize that earlier and cast farther out into the reef to avoid the spotfins or at least ignore the nibbles as the bait size and hook size on that setup makes catching these smaller spotfins unlikely. I also snagged this setup on a huge piece of kelp that took me 20 minutes to reel/hand line up to the pier. There was the remnants of a shark rig tangled in the kelp (sputnik sinker, swivels and heavy mono leader).

Mid pier I spoke to a guy who said he caught a bigger spotfin and a good size jack smelt. I made a post about our last trip to San Clemente on a Facebook group that is focused around surf fishing in California and I inspired a guy from there to try this pier out. He picked my brain for suggestions about rigs, bait and tactics and had similar success as me catching 3 spot fins, 1 white perch, and a couple small yellow fins. Felt good to encourage someone to try pier fishing and to see him have success right away!
 

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evanluck

Well-known member
#3
I agree the spotfins fight harder than the yellowfins but what I like about the yellowfins is that they don't nibble. When I get a little fish that bites aggressively and hooks itself 9 out of 10, it's a yellow fin croaker.

Spotfin croakers are fun to catch. Yellowfin Croakers I can barely notice when they are on the hook.

Good sizes!
 
#4
Started fishing around 5:30AM. I need to adjust my approach for these morning trips. I need less gear, a more focused approach, and I need to release all fish that are not target species.

I fished two setups. 1 fishfinder baited with a whole squid and the other a high-low rig baited with blood worms and alternating between shrimp and mussels. First fish I caught was a small black croaker. Did not feel it bite. Just reeled in to check my bait and it was there. It bit on blood worms. All the fish I caught today were on blood worms but both shrimp and squid were getting attention. Perhaps the mussels too but they may have just been falling off the hook. The next three fish I caught were all spot fin croakers. 2 small sized and 1 big enough to call medium. The bigger one was an exciting fight pulling hard and head shaking like crazy. I finished the day catching a small yellowfin croaker that jumped on my pole while I was cleaning the spotfins. There was also a small wall eye surf perch in there somewhere.

My mistake was getting too distracted with my larger setup. I'm fishing that whole squid on a fish finder to try to catch a larger kelp bass or sheephead. But right after I cast it, it gets almost constant attention from what I assume are spot fins. They just nibble at the bait until the squid head is gone or the entire squid is gone. I needed to recognize that earlier and cast farther out into the reef to avoid the spotfins or at least ignore the nibbles as the bait size and hook size on that setup makes catching these smaller spotfins unlikely. I also snagged this setup on a huge piece of kelp that took me 20 minutes to reel/hand line up to the pier. There was the remnants of a shark rig tangled in the kelp (sputnik sinker, swivels and heavy mono leader).

Mid pier I spoke to a guy who said he caught a bigger spotfin and a good size jack smelt. I made a post about our last trip to San Clemente on a Facebook group that is focused around surf fishing in California and I inspired a guy from there to try this pier out. He picked my brain for suggestions about rigs, bait and tactics and had similar success as me catching 3 spot fins, 1 white perch, and a couple small yellow fins. Felt good to encourage someone to try pier fishing and to see him have success right away!
Great job! How was the kelp today at end of pier? I think last weekend I went there it was so bad I moved to mid-pier after a couple casts...
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#5
Great job! How was the kelp today at end of pier? I think last weekend I went there it was so bad I moved to mid-pier after a couple casts...
That annoying red kelp is no longer a factor at the end. It is there in a minor way but not really affecting the fishing the way it was before.