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For some folks, March is all about watching basketball or enjoying spring. For us, March is all about rockfish fishing!
This month marks rockfish season and we couldn't be more excited about what is happening in the waters around San Diego and northern Baja. Read on to learn where rockfish and other fish species are currently biting, as well as a round-up about the 2021 bluefin season.
But First, Why Rockfish?
Rockfish may not have the mythic allure among fishermen like say giant bluefin, but don't sleep on rockfish - they are a blast to hunt, reel in and eat! Rockfish are not difficult to catch once you locate them. Drop your bait into rockfish-filled waters and wait for the tug. Sometimes a rockfish will put up a decent fight - that is until they start to surface. As they enter shallow waters, rockfish inflate like a balloon due to decompression sickness.
Since rockfish are relatively easy to reel in, they are great for newer anglers, kids, or seasoned fishermen who want a fun-filled day of bringing home lots of rockfish. Go at the right time of year (like now!) and you are likely to reel in loads of rockfish - usually up to the daily quota.
Did we mention they are tasty too?!
Rockfish have a decliate, nutty and sweet flavor. The meat is medium-firm, lean and has a fine flake when cooked.
Killing the rockfish game!
Where Rockfish Are Biting Now
1. The first spot to nab rockfish now is near San Diego, just north and northwest of the Coronado Islands. Here you can bring a mix of high-quality red rockfish, many of which are in the two to five pound class, onto the deck. We are finding that squid is working best here at a depth of 280 to 500 feet. In this area, boats are coming back almost everyday with the upper limit of quality rockfish in their haul.
2. The second area that is on and poppin' with rockfish is in the Lower 9. There are loads of high-quality red rockfish, lingcod and other mixed red rockfish biting in about 450 to 600 feet of water.
Keep an eye out for cowcod in this area, though. Cowcod is one of the handful you cannot keep or bring back to U.S. waters. We advise that you bring a descending device and heavy weight to send back down any caught codcows.
Some locations in the Lower 9 are packed with codcows. So if you find yourself reeling in a couple of codcows or more, it's best to move onto another spot away from them.
Captain's Tip: Keep an eye out for cowcods and move on if you start catching them.
3. The third area brimming with rockfish just waiting to be caught is down on the Upper Finger Bank. Like the Lower 9, this is another deep water fishing area, at around 450 to 600 feet.
Anglers hitting this area are scoring limits of reds and other mixed red rockfish - all high quality! We are seeing catches regularly weighing in at 4 to 6 pounds. Live sardines, live mackerel, squid, and jigs are all working wonders in the Upper FingerBank. The live mackerel is proving to be particularly rewarding with big red rockfish and lingcod just going crazy for it! Throw one on the line and before you know it - a rockfish is on deck!
4. Right off San Diego's coastline, in the La Jolla and Point Loma areas, rockfish are swarming the lines. We are hooking rockfish here in shallow waters of about 100 to 300 feet. This area is only about 15-20 minute ride from our slip on our ultra-fast and oh-so-smooth Boston Whalers, so you will nabbing rockfish before you know it. (Then again, all of these spots are a close ride from our slip, but this one is the closest.)
That bluefin is bigger than him!
2021 Big Bluefin Roundup
Last year was another fantastic season for big and even giant bluefin tuna. They moved early in the season (mid-spring) into northern Mexican waters and continued north into U.S. waters by summer. Most populations settled in the Cortez and Tanner banks through fall. A significant amount of the big-boy bluefin stuck around the entire year (including winter!) feeding on squid.
Since the bluefin are not venturing too far and getting fat on squid, this year is looking to be another banner year for bluefin fishing!
Don't wait!!! The season is hot and we are booking up fast, so reach out today!