The Barn Kelp, some ten miles north of Oceanside, has been putting out some good fishing lately. I took as half-day trip up there aboard the Oceanside 95 with skipper Mark Whyte this morning, and true to expected form for sports writers of all types, I killed the bite.
We got the 3 bís all right, bass, barracuda and bonito, but only in single digit numbers. We got a 4th b, a ďbut,Ē short for halibut, from a pleasant if green-tinged ocean just beginning to run a south swell. We saw many terns, pelicans and gulls in our chum, but with a north-bound current running like a river, we didnít see many fish coming up in the river, down-current from the big boat.
Whyte noted the water temperature was about 67. He tried north rather than south, he said, because it was already over 70 down toward Encinitas and Swammiís. For whatever reasons the fish didnít want to bite for us. I got a nice bonito and a legal calico bass, which I released for the camera. The bonito came aboard with a gaff and was requested by an angler with an empty sack.
Bill Roecker caught this bonito on a flylined sardine at the Barn Kelp, fishing on Oceanside 95.
I canít remember the last time I caught a bonito near Oceanside, but it must have been eight or ten years ago. Todayís experience aside, fishing for bass has been pretty good lately along the south coast. Itís about time for the kelp bass to spawn, I think, and when they do you can catch them almost too easily on plastics and flylined baits.
Why do they bite then? The spawners get pretty testy when they see small fish entering their spawn zone (which is up near the surface), and they bite just like freshwater bass do when a critter enters the zone of the nest.
Our jackpot was won by Brett Reitz of Salt Lake City, on a sardine plunged to the bottom with a small torpedo sinker in 56 feet of water. Savvy, old-time deckhand Mike Roach estimated the flattieís weight at 18 pounds. It made a nice bag of fillets for Reitz to take home. He said he used a 1/0 Mustad hook 20-pound line and a Shakespeare rod and reel. Reitz said it was his best halibut ever.
His Best 'But: Mike Reitz of Salt Lake City won the half-day jackpot for a good California halibut.
The word from the Grande, fishing offshore this morning, was that fish were biting early. If you havenít dusted off your gear yet, itís time to get out and start fishing. Keep the breeze in your face and your bait in the water, and something good will happen.