Malibu to Santa Barbara

by Chuck Melber

Michaels 20+ pound Santa Rosa Halibut

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Somebody pinch me... Am I dreaming? What month is it? Oh yea, March?! I cant help but smile all day long with this sun shine, and how late it is staying light. After a wet winter this is a very welcome return to the Southern California weather we all love. As if the beautiful weather and potential for el nino fishing isn't enough reason to smile, it looks as though we are going to have a Salmon season this year!

Salmon Update:

After two years of federal closures The Pacific Fishery Management Council has approved of three potential options which would allow for a limited opening to the Chinok salmon run this spring. A final decision is still a month away, but no matter how the cards are dealt we can expect to be allowed some time on the water mooching and trolling. Its time to dust off the dodgers, fire up the kicker motor, and re rig all of those old twisted leaders of yours. It might also be time to buy a real door stop because you'll be needing that two pound cannonball thats been propping open the door to your office.

Private Boaters:

Private boaters out of Santa Barbara are taking full advantage of early weather windows to get out on the water and search for some fish. Michael Johnson headed out to Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands on his 21 foot Parker “Offgassin” this past weekend. He heard the Calicos had been been on the chew at a few shallow water reefs and was excited to start the season off with a bang. Unfortunately the swell was up, and we was greeted by 8-10' waves breaking over the reef. Perfect if he had brought a surfboard, instead of a fishing rod. Plan B: Take advantage of some of the best Rock Cod fishing along the west coast. He was at Santa Rosa anyhow, it would be a shame not to.

He boogied over to his secret rockpile that always kicks out quality Reds and Chuckleheads with the intention to start the season with Limits. As they drove over the spot the meter lit up with clouds of bait and fish, Game on! Michael dropped down with double dropper loops and a 10 once weight. Thump.... Thump, thump thump.... and Fish on, only this didn't quite feel like a Red, Maybe a Ling? Nope, HALIBUT! As the fish neared the surface a Chinese Fire Drill ensued as his fishing buddy scrambled for the gaff (which was left in the garage) and then to find the net (which was pretty small) buried under the SCUBA gear. 

Nice Brown just in front of Santa Barbara Harbor

After the fish made a mad dash away from the boat, the two anglers were able to coax it into the net, and onto the deck, high fives all around, and time to try again. A few more drifts produced two big bites which broke off, as well as bunch of Cod. There's not much hope for Michael now, for he is fully struck with Halibut Fever.

Closer to home Tony took his cousin Frank out for a morning of catching at some of the reefs outside of Santa Barbara Harbor. After a slow start at the launch ramp due to engine troubles the boys made is out past the break-wall and started looking for the fish. As the morning wore on, the water got nicer and the fish started biting. Sand Bass, White fish, Browns, Reds, and Sugars, you name it and they caught it, making for a great time on the water. While none of the fish were monsters, they were all quality, and the best day Tony has had on his boat. Good job Tony!

Down the coast small reefs and kelps are starting to light up with bait and Bass. The water is still a little bit cool so fishing isn't amazing, but with a bit of effort, there are plenty of fish to be had. It is only March after all, and with conditions looking they way they do now, I'm hopeful about whats to come. If fishing plastics is your thing, colors with brown have been working well, as has my personal favorite, clear with red flake.


For the first time in a while, I can say the weekend weather looks as good as can be. Temperatures are predicted to hover in the mid 70's along the coast, and the there is supposed to be virtually no wind. From now through Sunday the weatherman is predicting 10 knots or less all day every day. Not only that but the tide change is right in the middle of the day with high tide on either side of noon through the weekend. I suspect there will be many of you getting out there to have a look around this weekend. And I hope to hear how your trips went.

I'll be backpacking and surf fishing in Point Reyes this weekend, hopefully catching some big n fat perch.

Thats it for this week gang, Tight lines and Screamn drags

If you have any questions, comments, or reports to share, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] 

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