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Breakwall Seabass

Breakwall Seabass

Posted on November 1, 2012 by Captain Jeff Jones


Every fall and early spring we get a fair amount of white seabass that move into the waters around the federal breakwall. Fishing them can be fun and rewarding, especially when you hook a big boy. The techniques are simple, but the shots are few. Follow these simple tips to maximize your chances, and enjoy the thrill of catching an exotic within a few miles of the launch ramp.

Seabass and squid are two words that are used together almost as much as peanut butter and jelly, but for breakwall seabass, you need to fish the bigger sardines or medium mackerel for best results. They will bite the live squid, but over the years I’ve caught way more on bigger finbaits that on the squish. 4/0-6/0 short shank live bait hooks work well, and 25-40# flourocarbon will get bit all day long. Small baits and squid will get you a lot of bites from sand bass and sculpin, which will take your attention away from the prize.

Seabass bite good on the wall during an incoming tide, through the slack and sometimes a little after as the tide just begins go out. Look at a tide calendar and find this tide scenario during and early morning or late afternoon, and your chances go way up. Right at slack tide the seabass are off the wall a ways, typically just outside the line of lobster buoys. Otherwise they are right about where the jetty rocks meet the sand, which is still not real close to the breakwall itself.

For fishing the wall proper, there are two basic methods that work well. One is slow trolling a nose hooked bait as slow as your boat will go, parallel with the wall. You’d think that a heavy torpedo sinker or even a bounce ball rig would be best, but these fish are in the middle to upper water column when they are in bite mode. A 1-2oz egg sinker held 24″-36″ up from the bait with either a Carolina Keeper or swivel works great. If two rigs are going to be slow trolled, try a straight flyline for the second outfit. Hold the rod, and place your thumb on the spool of the reel (in freespool). You’ll feel the bait get nervous just before a bite, especially with a graphite rod and spectra. The second method is anchoring and chumming, just like you would at Catalina.

For the anchoring and chumming method, the decision to fish a specific spot needs to be made only when a certain set of conditions are found. The real gold mine is a spot of birds working and diving right up against the wall. You could run up next to the spot and cast out a flylined bait to hook one seabass, by why do that when you can quickly anchor and get them biting good and hook more than one. A proper set of anchor gear is imperative for almost all of Southern California fishing, so you should have that already. Fishing the gaps or end of the breakwall is also good for anchoring and chumming. Seabass tend to congregate at the ends, again not right up tight to the rocks but off where the wall meets the sand. A ground fish “shark chum” bucket works excellent for breakwall seabass, and most of your bites will come on flylined baits.

Spots really do matter when fishing seabass on the wall, and there are only a few areas that produce regularly. I already mentioned the east end of the breakwall, and the east end of the LB gap is another great spot. Drifting the gaps is commonsense because of the traffic in these areas, so chumming isn’t really an option. The outside is almost always better that any of the inside, and finding structure along the wall can pay off big time. There are spots along the outside of the wall (most kept very secret) that you can find while slow trolling. Just keep a keen eye on the fishfinder and mark them when you see them. The bend in the middle section is also productive, as is the middle of the eastern section.

During the slack tide period, the area outside the LB gap, and a little to the east (outside the lobster buoys) is a great place to drift for seabass. This is an area where live squid does work often, and you’ll want to keep your baits on or near the bottom as you drift. There are more seabass here at times, but there can be a lot of shorts, and rarely do you catch any tankers out here. What is out here and big are the halibut, but thats for another article.

This is by no means an easy fishery, and you will have to practice patience and get dialed in before you start to see results. The most important thing is not to get discouraged or distracted, and change your game plan before you have the chance to hook a tanker. Refine your techniques and you’ll have a shot at a local seabass, they have been biting there for years and years. Fish the tides, make sure you have good bait and put in the time, you’ll be surprised to see how good this fishery can be.

Already getting a little grief from some of the guys that fish this stuff and keep it quiet. Here's the deal. It's a big ocean, and there is a lot of places where a guy can catch a fish. But there are more places where guys fish where there isn't much to catch. I really get frustrated when I hear that guys are fishing hard and not catching much. I think to myself "why should these guys have to learn things that hard way, just because someone else did?" The fact is, the guys that are bitching about others learning about THEIR spots, were taught these spots by someone anyways! Even my grandfather, who taught me so much when he was alive, was taught by someone. Rarely (if ever) have I found any truly "self taught" captains out there. I feel its hypocritical to say "you can't teach these guys about seabass on the BW!" Especially when it comes from a guy that was himself, taught. Thats the end of my rant. Go catch one and make me proud guys!
Wish I had a boat I could hop on and I would give it a try
The way to a fishermans heart is through his fly
and honestly even if someone tells you where to fish you still need to know how to fish! the way i see it is we are all in this together. we all share the love and appreciation for something. i will never be too prideful to accept advice and will never be too selfish to share anything i can. we appreciate your help and advice cap. jeff.
men and fish are alike. we both get in trouble when we open our mouths.
thank you
and yes we all have been taught
Let God lead the way!
Give a man a fish he eats for one day, teach him to fish he eats forever!

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