Another day at Dixon Lake, another fat three pound rainbow trout for the smoker.
Doctor totals 1/9 – 1/15: 578 fishermen aboard 31 half to 1.5 day trips from San Diego landings in the past week 8 blacksmiths, 36 bluefin tuna (up to 100lbs), 2 blue bass, 71 calicobas (50 released), 43 crescents, 1 halibut, 52 lingcod, 125 lobsters (86 released), 975 redfish, 275 sand bass, 596 sculpin, 4 triggerfish and 119 yellowtail.
Salt water: While a bit of bluefin tuna action off Cedros Island is keeping the attention of a few boats still sailing south for 1.5 to 3 days, the Baja yellowtail action off the coast is heating up again. After a short break, the powerhouses returned to the coastal waters off San Quintin and continued their seasonal bite from Santa Rosalillita, around Punta Eugenia and on to the southern end of the Vizcaino Peninsula. Lots of good sized fish have been caught by friends off Quintin and down south, some fish coming in at around 50lbs. While the Pacifica had a rough day on bluefin tuna with only 4 landing for their 22 fishermen aboard a 1.5-day trip, the Polaris Supreme reported that 36 fish landed up to 100 pounds during their three-day run with 24 fishermen. 13 fishermen aboard the Pacific Voyager 2.5-day voyage focused on the redfish and yellowtail bite closer to the Baja coast and scored well, with 119 yellowtails, 60 redfish and 52 lingcods coming over the railing.
Further down the line, yellowfin tuna up to over 200lbs are shown for the long haul fleet fishing the Ridge and Alijos Rocks, with all indications that the excellent fishing can continue. In our nearshore waters, it’s all about the bass, as with sand bass. While the calico bite was hit and miss depending on the current, the sand bass bite, especially from the Point Loma flats to the ‘pipe’ of Imperial Beach, was consistently good, with most fish caught over 14 inches. Rockfish bite well for boats venturing south of the border to the lower 9-Mile Bank and other high spots within a half- to full-day range in Mexican waters.
The surf occasionally bites halibut, and along with surf bass, they provide an extra off-season winter break for anglers focused on it. Forget sand crabs as bait, they have gone deep as their winter time normally is. Try crankbaits like Lucky Crafts or Gulp sandworms, grubs, and even their imitation sandcrab baits for action. The best times are when the tides are moderate, the surf is low to medium, and the bottom of the tide to hit hard-to-reach holes and fish to the top when the tide comes in.
Fresh water: This past week has been all about the trout, even though the winter bass fishing has been decent. But, and taste is subjective, which stuffed trout is edible and prefers table fare over green bass. I’ve been a few times in the last few weeks and I’m working on the most productive methods for trout. While it makes a difference how many days before fishing they were stored, there are the usual types of bait when fishing for trout. At the top of that list is Chartreuse Power Bait, especially with glitter. I like to present it on a 24″ to 30″ long leader with a weight just heavy enough to get a decent cast. Since the stocked fish tend to circle the lakes and coves close to shore, one doesn’t need to cast much more than a few dozen yards, and usually less.
I’ve soaked worms, especially nightcrawlers right in front of the trout on sight, and no feeders so far. Mealworms might let them go but I haven’t tried them yet although I know trout love them. Other popular trout bosses may be restricted in area lakes, such as Corn, so be sure to check bait restrictions before heading out to fill your fishing basket.
For lures, my favorite Kastmasters, little spoons like Thomas Buoyant, little Crocodiles and spinners like Roostser Tails and Mepps have all done little to encourage tank-raised trout to bite. I’ve found guys working a 1/32nd ounce minimum, mostly white or yellow where trout congregate, have done really well. During the time I caught a 3lb trout that was in Power Bait, an angler fishing in the same bay caught six fish using mini jigs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one in the box, so I just had fun watching it catch. This also brings me to the line size. I was fishing with a 6lb test which is on the heavy side of what works. The guy with the minimals used a 2lb line. Although he was the ‘catcher’ fisherman in the bay, he inadvertently released four when they broke the line as the fish fought hard on the bank. My advice is to focus on the 4lb test, fish power bait or mini jigs (in white, seconded by yellow) and, to secure the frenzied hooked fish, get a long handle net. Some of these stuffed trout weigh up to 8 pounds and require a little finesse to not only hook, but land.
Trout fight very hard on the shoreline once. They feel their end no matter how deep their senses go. I do know that migrating white pelicans prey on them along the coast and I’ve seen a few scooped up. Two ospreys were also working at Whisker Cove in Dixon while I was there. Birds hit the fish in the shallows where the trout tend to cruise for days after being planted, which is apparently what they do in tanks where they are raised. Each fish caught would attract two or three pelicans that would fly over to watch the action. However, white pelicans don’t ‘dive’ from above like our native brown pelicans do. White pelicans swim in groups of three or more and try to drive the fish so far that they can submerge their heads and scoop the fish with quick thrusts. If they were the dive type we see in our local coves and beaches, the trout wouldn’t stand a chance. So far, it seems that our diving brown pelicans haven’t fathomed the freshwater action in San Diego County’s lakes during the winter. Birds of prey, on the other hand, find the trout stock very palatable and golden eagles, bald eagles and ospreys all take part in feeding it. Go get some!
fish plants: January 24 – Lake Jennings, trout (1500), January 25 – Dixon Lake, trout (1500), January 27 – Lake Poway, trout (1500)