Malibu to Santa Barbara May 7th

by Chuck Melber

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Greetings my fellow fish enthusiasts. I hope this message finds you all in the best of health, the best of spirits, and with some great fishing under your belt so far this year. It has been a nice year so far with plenty of fish caught, although it has been admittedly slower than I was predicting. It was great to have a salmon season available to us, and there were even some fish caught south of Point Conception.

A group of Santa Barbara area salmon enthusiasts made the most of the short window of opportunity and worked the usual areas hard. Their dedication to the fine art of salmon trolling, religiously working scattered bait and changing set ups resulted in a handful of fish for the season. As you all know this area is hit or miss as far as salmon go, sometimes the fish show up in big numbers, and other years there isn’t one to be found anwhere. And with so few boats working the zone, it becomes much harder to pin down the fish and make the most of the short window of opportunity given this year.

To the north salmon fishing was a bit of a different story, and while it never went wide open it was a steady pick in often rough conditions. Like those who fished to the south, if you put in the time and effort the reward was there in the form of some delicious salmon steaks and fillets.

Fishing at the islands is holding out on the precipice of being glorious. There is a steady pick of fish out there, but not quite in the quantity or quality I would like to see. As always the cod bite is great with plenty of fish being caught if your looking to put some quick food on the table. The calicos are biting as well although they do require a bit more effort, and as the water temps keep ratcheting up you can expect the bite to get better and better.

In stark contrast to last year, the fishing along the coast is starting to heat up. The bass are being found in ever increasing concentration in the kelp and on reefs from Malibu through Goleta. However, many of the fish are of a younger generation, and are in the 12 to 17 inch range. While that may not be a trophy to write home about, it is a great catch on lighter spinning tackle.

In the past, when feeling really sporty I have used a seven foot medium action rod rated for six to ten pound line, a small shimano spinner, and either straight six pound mono or 20 pound braid. I usually fish it either a three inch swim bait or a fly lined live ‘chovie, all I can say is, you haven’t lived till you manage to get a four or five pound calico boatside on that kind of set up. 

Given the smaller size of these fish, it is very important to remember to release the smaller ones so they can breed a few times before finding their way into a folded tortilla.

The “1 mile” out of Santa Barbara has been producing some nice catches as of late too. It offers the perfect opportunity to get out for a quick fish without having to put too much money in the fuel tank. Not only that but the protected waters of coastal Santa Barbara are perfect for taking a first time angler out without the fear of sea sickness.

The “1 mile” reef is more a complex of various stones approximately one mile in front of the Santa Barbara Harbor, so there isn’t any one location to fish there, rather there are many. So when you go out meter around a bit, and look for the usual signs of reef, kelp, etc. With any luck you might stumble across a previously unknown spot loaded with fish. Sheepshead, Halibut, Calico, Sand bass, White sea bass, and rock fish can all be caught there at various times, and often it is hard to say what you will pull up next. Lately anglers have been catching Sheepshead, whitefish, rockfish, and a handful of bass.

If I were fishing there tomorrow, and wanted catch any of the bottom dwellers, I would use a dropper loop with as light of a weight as I can get away with, and either a squid strip.

Or if you would prefer to focus on bass, with the occasional rockfish thrown in I would fish a three to five inch swim bait with half once lead head.

Also, one never to disappoint, surf fishing along our beaches has been nothing short of glorious this year. Up and down the coast anglers are getting into quality bites. Bared surf perch abound, although now that the breeding season is over in not quite the same size as a couple of months ago. But with the warmer summer time water keep your eyes pealed for corbina and other croaker to be working the shallows along the beach.

That’s it for this week gang, good luck out there. And until next time Tight Lines, and Screamn drags.

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with any quest


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