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Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 5:44 am | Fair 38º


Captain’s Log: Angling for Beach and Inshore Wintertime Fishing Opportunities

The temperatures may be cooler but the fishing can be hot this time of year.

It sure feels great to take advantage of a nice weather window and spend a few hours fishing. Fishing regulations change dramatically Jan. 1, yet there is plenty of good beach and inshore fishing to relax the mind. Here are two to try.

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
Walk along a beach or breakwater and cast to feeding fish. Beaches are carved up by winter storm surf and tidal action creating pockets of deeper water where converging waves or rip currents dig grooves in the sand. Flows of sand partially fill such grooves but leave dimples in the sand. Those dimples are often a few feet wide and form perfect holding spots for foraging fish waiting for their next meal to drift by with the wave action.

Successful anglers this winter are making repetitive casts to pockets and revisiting spots frequently because fish move around and use these pockets briefly but often. Die-hard surf casters know they may cast unproductively at a pocket a dozen times and suddenly get nailed on the next cast when foraging fish move in. Some of the best natural baits are sand crabs, mussel, bloodworms and ghost shrimp. When casting artificials on small leadheads or sliding sinker rigs, try Berkley Gulp! Best shapes have been sand crabs, shrimp and worms. Foraging fish will include halibut, corbina, barred surfperch, small sharks and rays.

The second wintertime opportunity is to take a short boat ride to fish small runoff spots inside bays and harbors. To a fish that has lived on the same fare for most of the year, this is a time of wild wanton opportunity to feast on unusual feed. To take advantage of that uninhibited feeding action, position the boat just off of trickling tributaries or storm drains. Make repetitive casts towards the inflowing water. The most natural presentation is a bait or lure moving with the running water. Make it look as if your bait has come down the tributary or drain and is being washed into the waters of the bay. This scenario is perfect for casting small plastic grubs on tiny leadheads. Bounce them along the bottom with the water flow and hang on tight as they enter water several feet deep. Spotted bay bass, sand bass and halibut will all hang out in these spots to feed.

Similarly, fish from small boats near the mouths of local harbors for halibut, calico bass, sand bass and rays. All of these species forage throughout the channels of harbor entrances where food flows in and out regularly with the tides. Baitfish are common targets of these species, so rig up with a live bait. When using artificials, try Berkley Powerbaits on leadheads and work them by casting out, letting it flutter to the bottom and retrieving very slowly and letting it settle back to the bottom a few times along the way. Fish feel a bit lethargic in this cold water, so a slow presentation is rewarding.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.


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