As we settle into a much cooler weather pattern, memories of an 85-degree Christmas seem more distant than a mere three weeks. We’re also dealing with persistent high winds.
Oceanside, the cooling water temps benefit our wintertime pelagic species, such as sailfish, kingfish and cobia. With ever-increasing numbers of these prized species, fishing for them will improve markedly.
Most of the sailfishing right now is taking place in 150 to 200 feet of water, with pilchards, goggle eyes and small bluerunners providing the best action. Mixed in with the sails are plenty of king mackerel in the 10- to 15-pound range.
On the wrecks, there’s some pretty good mutton snapper fishing when conditions allow. Nice size amberjack in the 30- to 50-pound class are there as well. Pilchards, pinfish and ballyhoo work best.
While you’re drifting the wrecks for the bottom species, drop a bait halfway and you will quite often pick up bonus kingfish. Make sure you have a little bit of #5 wire to prevent breakoffs.
The yellowtail snapper are still biting on the reef, although as the waters continue to cool, this bite may slow a bit. Where we normally use lots of chum to attract the snappers’ interest, this time of year less is needed.
The patch reefs and channel humps are really coming to life with loads of lane, mangrove, mutton and yellowtail snapper, porgy, hogfish, cero and king mackerel and some cobia. Shrimp on a jighead produces the most action for the widest variety of species.
Cobia have a tendency to follow the snapper to the back of your boat. So, it pays to be prepared with a live pinfish to throw right in its face. Often, the cobia will gobble it right up. A chartreuse bucktail with a curly-tail grub will also elicit strikes from the cobia.
Temps in the bayside waters have dropped into the lower 60’s, which slows the bite down considerably. It could take a week for things to stabilize. Or, it could take a month. Until then, your best shot at consistent action is Oceanside.
The week’s best
The SeaSquared boats fished Hawk Channel and the patch reefs for the most part. Our anglers brought back nice catches of all the snapper species plus hogfish and porgy and released some grouper.