When should I go fishing?

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: May 7, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Mola Joe
Subject: When should I go fishing?

First let me say congratulations to all halibut catchers out there. It's been a banner year so far and it makes me happy if I motivated anyone to get out there and try this kind of fishing. I've been receiving some e-mail asking what I think about one beach or another, or what tides do I like. It seems catching halibut in the surf is finally catching on a little bit. As far as trying to figure out if a certain beach is good for halibut, there's only one way to find out. If you don't fish it, the odds are nobody else is going to either. So few guys throw plastics in this part of the bay, most of these beaches here see almost no activity. Catching halibut in the surf is not new, but with the various web sites and the Internet getting popular the last 5 years or so, more are finding out about it. I fish Hermosa, Manhattan, or Dockweiler because they're close to my house. I know for a fact that Torrance Beach is another hot spot but it's a little further for me so I choose to stay close to home. There's a group of guys that fish Rat Beach (right after Torrance) and do very well. They do it with no fan fare, and talk to only a few other locals. (I’m sure they're going to love me saying this)
You'll just never know unless you try. Don't be afraid to try new spots. I've always done well for halibut at Hermosa and Manhattan growing up, but one day decided to try the stretch of Dockweiler that has become one of my better halibut spots. No one fished this beach. I've never seen anyone throw plastics here except for me and a couple of friends for the past 10+ years.
As far as tides for the beaches I fish, I like as close to the high as possible for halibut. I say these beaches I fish because all beaches are different. Hermosa can be a bitch if the waters moving too much. After the peak, it can lay down flat for an hour or so and fishing can really turn on. Other beaches may be good for halibut at low tide if they're full of holes that fish can move up into. I always seem to do better at Dockweiler when the waters really flooding in, opposite of Hermosa. Time spent on a beach is going to determine when you should be there.
Here's another answer to a question I got twice this week. No, I don't catch fish every time I hit the beach. At the start of a new week, I look ahead at the tides. I plan my trips according to what the tides tell me. I already know if I'm going to fish Thursday or Friday after work my halibut rod stays at home and my crab trap and corbina rod comes out. It really puts the odds in my favor and keeps the skunk down to a minimum. If I were to throw plastics during these bad tides, more than likely Mr. Skunk would pay a visit. Same goes for the mornings this weekend. It's corbina time, not halibut. It's not really as confusing as it sounds. Put your time in, walk the beach, learn the tides. Surf fishing is not as easy as walking up on a pier or taking a boat out. Even when everything adds up right with tides and weather, things like kelp thrown in the picture or not finding soft shells can screw you up. It's a challenge, but it makes it that much more rewarding when the pieces of the puzzle fall together and that 27-incher glides up the beach. Don't give up if you're not catching fish. Be ready to change with the conditions, and the fish will come. Have fun out there and tight lines!

Posted by Frenchy

Great information again Joe. When you talk about Torrance Beach, are you referring to the area between the pier and Topaz Jetty, or the area south of Topaz Jetty? How is the beach south of the Jetty around the Avenues B-I? There is beach access from the stairs above the beach. Andrew

Posted by johnr

Good info Mola...coming from a boat fisherman, surf fishing is a lot more challenging than boat fishing. In a boat I had all my waypoints in my Loran's memory and also boaters share waypoints. Reefs don’t move. Wanted rockfish or lings, no problem just punched in the location for Santa Cruz reef, Capitola reef, etc. and off we went following the plotter on the Loran. Soon later we were catching fish. Can't count the number of lings and rockfish caught and released.
For moving fish like Salmon or Albacore, again no problem, tackle stores share Lat/Long numbers. Insert the numbers in the Loran/plotter and there we are. Also boat people share info on the radio all the time...what occurs on this board has been occurring with boat fishermen for many years.
Boat fishing does take a lot more preparation, planning, time, and of course much more expensive. With surf fishing just take the pole along to work and it's easy to get in a couple of hours in here and there and beginners can start with a bottle, line, and hooks if they can't afford a rod and reel yet. John