Saltwater fishing report: White seabass bite erupts at Catalina
White seabass are among the most sought after saltwater game fish in Southern California. They're popular because of their freight train-like fight and the tender flakiness of their ivory-white flesh -- and perhaps because they're so finicky that when a wide-open bite does erupt it becomes truly special.
Philip Friedman, the founder of 976-TUNA who provides regular reports for Outposts, was at the backside of Catalina on Thursday at daybreak, when one of these phenomenons occurred.
He was aboard Options, a six-passenger sportfisher out of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach, with sons Philip Jr. and Patrick, Earl McVicar and Arturo Velasquez. They'd obtained live squid from a commercial boat and McVicar got things started by catching a 25-pound yellowtail at first light.
They then sat and waited, frustratingly, while watching anglers aboard nearby boats battle 20- to 40-pound seabass. This is another typical thing about seabass. If you're not on the precise right spot, you can miss the bite, and when the bite shuts down it literally shuts down.
But the feeding croakers ultimately swept past Options, and each angler and the three crew members filled their one-fish limits. Philip Jr. also caught a legal-size halibut, and Velasquez, a novice angler, hauled from the depths a 100-pound black seabass, which was released because black seabass are protected in California.
What's good news for seabass anglers is that Options Capt. Tino Valentine and other skippers have been metering thousands of seabass, and on Tuesday the bag limit increases from one to three.
Meanwhile, on the albacore front, Friedman reports that the longfin tuna remain in an area 120-plus miles south of Point Loma, but that a northbound migration appears imminent. Anglers aboard several San Diego-based vessels will be searching for closer schools of albacore this weekend.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo: From left, Philip Friedman Jr., Earl McVicar, Patrick Friedman and Arturo Velasquez display Thursday morning's catch aboard Options. Credit: Philip Friedman