An unusually early spring, plus a sale on good fishing line has left me thinking that it’s time to get my 2012 fishing license, buy new fishing line, plus other tackle and keen the tips of my stainless steel fishing hooks.
Although San Diego is known for its inshore yellowtail and overnight trips to the tuna grounds, it also supports a decent California halibut sport fishery. And I love catching flatties.
Halibut fishing is one of the most enjoyable things I do out on the coast. It doesn’t take a graduate degree in marine biology to target and catch California halibut. But it helps if you take a little time to understand where, when and why halibut appear.
I begin my yearly quest for flatties by driving up and down the coast. What I’m looking for are sandy beaches with kelp close to shore. My idea of an ideal beach is one where I can cast to within 20 feet of the kelp and count on a sandy bottom.
It’s taken about seven years to assemble what I think is an ideal halibut outfit: the basis of which is a nine-foot, two-piece, rod with a medium tip, and a medium and a decent size spinning reel loaded with good 8 to 12 pound test monofilament. I make sure that the guides of my rod are clean, which helps me cast farther. Trial and error on the San Diego coast has taught me to always use wire leaders and very sharp hooks.
I use one-ounce pyramid sinkers and tie my wire leaders about one foot above the weight. From sandy beaches, I try to fish at slack water following the morning hide tide, and I use a six-foot sand spike to keep my line out of the surf. One of the shortcomings of fishing here in San Diego is the near absence of live bait such a anchovies in tackle stores. So I’ve learned to be content with frozen ‘chovies. I change bait frequently.
Besides, I think it’s good karma to give my unused bait at the end of the day to the gulls.
There are a couple of under fished halibut spots on the Orange and San Diego County coasts. One of my favorites is sandy beach on the coast in Torrey Pines near the Hilton, and Las Pulgas Beach at Camp Pendleton. Further up the coast, the north end of Crystal Cove State Beach is another productive spot to try your luck.
If you’re Driving Southbound to San Diego on I-5, I have another suggestion; look for lagoons that open to the Pacific then figure out how to get to the sandy beaches near the rail road trestles that span the lagoon openings. There are four such places between San Diego and San Clemente and they are the only spots on the southern coast where I and other fishermen have consistently caught strings of flatties. The thing about inlet fishing is: you want to try to get your gear just beyond the outflow channels and keeping your rig in place may require a heavy sinker.
It’s spring the halibut are inshore, plus they’re hungry, so string up with good line, use wire leaders and keep your hooks sharp. The minimum overall size limit for California halibut is 22 inches and the daily bag limit is five fish (south of Monterey County). A valid CA sport fishing license is required. Tight lines—Jim Forbes on 02/25/2012.