Something Different at the Cabrillo Mole Pier in Catalina

evanluck

Well-known member
#1
Tried to change things up at Cabrillo Mole Pier in Catalina. Trying to shift our approach looking for a keeper Calico Bass and some bigger fish. I sized up my high low rig from size 6 to 1/0 and 3/0 circle hooks. My buddy Duke brought some live crayfish for bait.

Bottom line, it was the slowest day we’ve experienced so far at this spot. Not really due to our approach so much but other factors. Perhaps we are in that transition period between the colder winter and warmer spring and the bite was sleepy as the colder species like Sheephead and white fish are less prominent while the warm species have yet to really become more active.

When the bite really slowed down I went over to the left side of the pier and dropped my line into the rocks that are visible from that side. I caught three small sculpin there in fairly short order. The live cray fish got lots of attention but we did not see any real advantage over a big piece of squid. This might have been different had there been more big Sheephead around. We did accomplish our goal of a keeper Calico (Duke got a 14”) and we caught way more Calicos than any other trip with quite a few shorts very close to the 14” keeper size.
thedukeofbass.jpg

We also fished a couple hours after dark (left on 9:45PM boat). Duke caught a good size sculpin and we both caught quite a few decent size but short calicos. Best fish of the day for me was a 36” horn shark which bit on a whole squid that I had rigged on a 3/0 circle hook as the bottom hook of a high low rig. We also caught a fair amount of short Sheephead and white fish throughout the day.
hornshark-1031px.jpg


Did a few casts with a Hookup Bait tube lure tipped with squid. No takers on the lure. Probably too light to get down to where the target species for this type of lure would be hanging out. A couple fished with the same lures also for a longer stretch and got no bites. Also did 10 or so casts with a 42g colt sniper with no luck. Also did not see anyone else catch bonito on the pier. There were schools of small opal eye and a few larger ones. We fished a float both with a sabiki (to try to catch bait fish) and a couple smaller hooks with peas for Opal eye. We caught a few blacksmith on float rigs before deciding it was more exciting to keep fishing the bottom.

We saw lots of unusual small fish activity. There was schools of fast swimming bait fish breaching the surface of the water. As far as we could tell they were not running from predatory fish. We thought it may be grunion. Also close to sunset there was lots of small blacksmith that came to the surface and would slowly gulp air and go back down.

Here is a video of me fighting the Horn Shark and a clip after it was landed.
 

K1n

Active member
#2
good going on the catches!! sometimes, changing up in attempt to get larger quarry will have a negative impact on fish counts until you figure everything out.

Regarding the tube bait:
Using tube baits is often times as simple as fishing it dead stick style. Allowing the bait to fall on slack line so it does the "death spiral" into the depths. You can fish it with a pronounced jerk/pause retrieve to fish the upper/middle columns of water and even a straight slow grind in catches fish. Do not give up on fishing tube baits, they produce. I don't fish the "popular brand" for personal reasons but if you dig around, there are a lot of other options out there that fit the bill and are more customizable regarding weight/size and my favorite: price. Keep the reports coming.
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#3
Thanks for the tips on the tube baits. I'll try it for longer next time.

good going on the catches!! sometimes, changing up in attempt to get larger quarry will have a negative impact on fish counts until you figure everything out.

Regarding the tube bait:
Using tube baits is often times as simple as fishing it dead stick style. Allowing the bait to fall on slack line so it does the "death spiral" into the depths. You can fish it with a pronounced jerk/pause retrieve to fish the upper/middle columns of water and even a straight slow grind in catches fish. Do not give up on fishing tube baits, they produce. I don't fish the "popular brand" for personal reasons but if you dig around, there are a lot of other options out there that fit the bill and are more customizable regarding weight/size and my favorite: price. Keep the reports coming.
 

MisterT

Well-known member
#6
Thanks for the report. The fact that fish were caught is a good day. Slow fishing day is better than a skunk. ;)

I have yet to catch fish on my Coltsniper. I'm hoping at least mackerel will hit it. :LOL:
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#8
Evan, Nice fishing. A couple of things. I'm not clear on the on the crayfish, did you perhaps mean ghost shrimp? Crawfish are a freshwater species and though we've tried frozen crawfish they've never proven effective.

As for the bigger baits and hooks, match the size of the hook to the bait. A whole squid is going to need a large hook, strip bait or pieces of bait smaller hooks.

As for the change in fishing, I think part is indeed due to the change in season but I also think it could show the impact of more fishing and a back to regular population. It's hard to say.

Night fishing — I've seen a few horn sharks caught during the day and night and generally in the area you are fishing. Nighttime can also yield some swell shark and even an occasional bat ray but I haven't seen any other sharks. That also seems to be the time for some of the larger bass (although adult bass primarily feed during the day). And of course the night hours are best for moray. Overall though it is slower fishing at night, mainly some rockfish (several varieties) and salema, although if the mackerel show up it can be steady action on them. I planned to fish some night hours on my last trip but it didn't work out. That's one reason I brought the smelt.
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#9
Yes. They were freshwater crayfish that my friend bought live the evening before and kept alive in a live well. They stayed alive well enough on the hook and did get bit.

My thinking was they may be a bait that would get ignored by anything with the exception of large Sheephead. The but the cray fish got nibbled at and eventually got stolen without hooking the fish.

Evan, Nice fishing. A couple of things. I'm not clear on the on the crayfish, did you perhaps mean ghost shrimp? Crawfish are a freshwater species and though we've tried frozen crawfish they've never proven effective.

As for the bigger baits and hooks, match the size of the hook to the bait. A whole squid is going to need a large hook, strip bait or pieces of bait smaller hooks.

As for the change in fishing, I think part is indeed due to the change in season but I also think it could show the impact of more fishing and a back to regular population. It's hard to say.

Night fishing — I've seen a few horn sharks caught during the day and night and generally in the area you are fishing. Nighttime can also yield some swell shark and even an occasional bat ray but I haven't seen any other sharks. That also seems to be the time for some of the larger bass (although adult bass primarily feed during the day). And of course the night hours are best for moray. Overall though it is slower fishing at night, mainly some rockfish (several varieties) and salema, although if the mackerel show up it can be steady action on them. I planned to fish some night hours on my last trip but it didn't work out. That's one reason I brought the smelt.
 
#10
Tried to change things up at Cabrillo Mole Pier in Catalina. Trying to shift our approach looking for a keeper Calico Bass and some bigger fish. I sized up my high low rig from size 6 to 1/0 and 3/0 circle hooks. My buddy Duke brought some live crayfish for bait.

Bottom line, it was the slowest day we’ve experienced so far at this spot. Not really due to our approach so much but other factors. Perhaps we are in that transition period between the colder winter and warmer spring and the bite was sleepy as the colder species like Sheephead and white fish are less prominent while the warm species have yet to really become more active.

When the bite really slowed down I went over to the left side of the pier and dropped my line into the rocks that are visible from that side. I caught three small sculpin there in fairly short order. The live cray fish got lots of attention but we did not see any real advantage over a big piece of squid. This might have been different had there been more big Sheephead around. We did accomplish our goal of a keeper Calico (Duke got a 14”) and we caught way more Calicos than any other trip with quite a few shorts very close to the 14” keeper size.
View attachment 2203

We also fished a couple hours after dark (left on 9:45PM boat). Duke caught a good size sculpin and we both caught quite a few decent size but short calicos. Best fish of the day for me was a 36” horn shark which bit on a whole squid that I had rigged on a 3/0 circle hook as the bottom hook of a high low rig. We also caught a fair amount of short Sheephead and white fish throughout the day.
View attachment 2202


Did a few casts with a Hookup Bait tube lure tipped with squid. No takers on the lure. Probably too light to get down to where the target species for this type of lure would be hanging out. A couple fished with the same lures also for a longer stretch and got no bites. Also did 10 or so casts with a 42g colt sniper with no luck. Also did not see anyone else catch bonito on the pier. There were schools of small opal eye and a few larger ones. We fished a float both with a sabiki (to try to catch bait fish) and a couple smaller hooks with peas for Opal eye. We caught a few blacksmith on float rigs before deciding it was more exciting to keep fishing the bottom.

We saw lots of unusual small fish activity. There was schools of fast swimming bait fish breaching the surface of the water. As far as we could tell they were not running from predatory fish. We thought it may be grunion. Also close to sunset there was lots of small blacksmith that came to the surface and would slowly gulp air and go back down.

Here is a video of me fighting the Horn Shark and a clip after it was landed.
Enjoyed the report. Great video. Impressed you carried a hoop net for the trip!!!
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#11
Thanks for the report. The fact that fish were caught is a good day. Slow fishing day is better than a skunk. ;)

I have yet to catch fish on my Coltsniper. I'm hoping at least mackerel will hit it. :LOL:
I haven't caught anything on a coltsniper either. Hooked up once and it came off. I've caught a bonito and a calico on a jigpara micro jig and I've caught a bonito, a barracuda, and a mackerel on a feather fly and splashing bobber rig. That is all the fish I've caught on artificials.
 

MisterT

Well-known member
#12
I haven't caught anything on a coltsniper either. Hooked up once and it came off. I've caught a bonito and a calico on a jigpara micro jig and I've caught a bonito, a barracuda, and a mackerel on a feather fly and splashing bobber rig. That is all the fish I've caught on artificials.
I have more confidence with a jighead+plastic or gulp over the coltsniper. My coltsniper at this point is just getting beat up from rocks.

Bonito on a sabiki + 2oz sinker with a quick twitch / jerk has always worked well for me especially late summer / fall season. These days I try to avoid using sabiki and use hard baits or a jighead+plastic or gulp just to challenge myself. I need to head out and go fish more often though.
 

evanluck

Well-known member
#14
I have more confidence with a jighead+plastic or gulp over the coltsniper. My coltsniper at this point is just getting beat up from rocks.

Bonito on a sabiki + 2oz sinker with a quick twitch / jerk has always worked well for me especially late summer / fall season. These days I try to avoid using sabiki and use hard baits or a jighead+plastic or gulp just to challenge myself. I need to head out and go fish more often though.
I think I would like the feeling of fishing a plastic and I have caught sculpin using a gulp grub with a jighead tipped with squid.

In general I prefer fishing experiences that are more serene than necessarily exciting. So I like fishing with bait because if feels calm to me and I like the game of feeling the bites and trying to hook the fish. The game with lures is about presenting the lure in a way that causes the fish to bite which feels much more active to me. But in the end my bias boils down to success and confidence level. I catch so many more fish using bait that it has been hard to switch even though I see the merits of lure fishing.