San Clemente Pier 12-4/12-5 / Newport Jetty 12-6


Well-Known Member
Got to San Clemente Pier around 4:20AM on both days. All action that I got on both of these days was on my smaller high low setup. I was fishing also fishing a bigger setup with a fish finder with a whole market shrimp on a 3/0 circle hook. No significant bites on hook up on that setup.

12-4 was a better day. Bite was steady not great but steady enough to keep things interesting. I caught small yellowfin croaker, 2 small spotfin croaker and a few smelt. I was using cut pieces of market shrimp as bait. There was a guy fishing near the pier that pulled up a black surf perch, a wall eye perch, and a yellow fin croaker fishing on the right side of the end and two different guys hooked up on bigger fishing on the reef that we think were sheephead. One yanked the bait out trying to set the hook too hard, the other fought his fish 3/4s of the way in but lost it.

12-5 was a very slow day. Just a few nibbles here and there. No mackerel around the pier and even the smelt bite was intermittent and trickier to find. I ended up catching a walleye surf perch, and a black surf perch. The walleye I caught on shrimp. The black surf perch was on a whole live lug worm. The black surf perch was the most satsifying catch as the bites I was getting on day had been tiny sampling bites and then they would stop with the bait still on the hook. The black surf perch hit hard and fought my smaller setup like a much bigger fish until I got him 3/4s of the way in and then he kind of gave up. There was one other black surf perch caught while I was there but I didn't see any other fish.

On 12-6, I went to the Newport Jetty. My initial plan was to fish high-low rigs, one bigger and one smaller like I have been doing at San Clemente and to try to catch a bigger Sheephead. Withing a few casts I had snagged both of my setups and broke them off at the bottom hook. Some Chinese gentlemen next to me were working as a team and reeling in very nice sized mackerel. I rigged up a size 8 Hayabusa sabiki under a float and the mackerel bite was on! After landed about 10 good sized mackerel. I switched to a jig head with a good piece of mackerel loaded onto in like a swim bait. I caught three more mackerel on this setup. Then I went back to the sabiki and caught and released 5 more. So much fun! Mackerel fight so well for their size!

I stopped fishing at 1PM to clean my fish. I was happy because I lugged some extra gear out to make the cleaning and keeping of fish easier. I brought my hard 5 gallon bucket and a smaller 3 gallon bucket with a rope. I also brought a burlap bag to store the fish in after I cleaned them. I like to bleed and ikejime (japanese fish slaughter method) the fish I catch and this was the first time where I felt I was setup properly to do it. Also it helped being actually at the end of the jetty cause there is that flat concrete platform out there. I was able to ikejime each fish after I caught it, place it in a shallow buck of ocean water to bleed and then place it in a clean bucket of cold ocean water. Then after I cleaned the fish I put them in the burlap sack and dipped the sack in ocean water twice before I got them to the car. The result was a much less stressful time keeping the fish fresh and much better quality of fish that I have ever been able to bring back off the jetty. Not having to use ice made the trip out there easier. I like the burlap sack alot!

The other people fishing also caught steady mackerel and there was a group of guys fishing for Opal eye pulling nice sized fish out fishing with sea moss under a float. There were also two octopi caught on hand lines with weight treble hooks baited with mackerel. A new friend I met who had been only fishing for a month also caught a small half moon perch.

Never experienced a mackerel bite like that on the jetty because the last few times I went I was targeting bonito using lures and feather/splash rigs. It was great having so much action on the jetty. The feeling is different reeling in fish closer to the ocean level when compared to a pier.



Active Member
Hey thanks for the detailed report! Nice line-up of mackerel. I too really enjoy fishing with a float. When the macks or jack smelt take the bait, it looks like your gear was snagged by a fast moving submarine. Great fun!