Here’s why: Sand bass because they’re “fairly plentiful and usually are bigger and pull harder than spotties”; spotted bay bass because “they’re so plentiful and easy to catch”; halibut because there’s always a chance of catching a big doormat-sized fish; bonefish because “it’s such an exotic species.”
4. Stock says bonito, barracuda and mackerel are bonus species in the bay. They mostly come into the bay in the summer and can be located by looking for diving birds splashing into schools of baitfish. He uses Kastmasters and Crocodile spoons for bonito and barracuda.
5. As for technique, Stock likes to cast, reel slowly and every so often lift the bait such as the Berkley Gulp shrimp. He prefers using a football-shaped jig on 3-inch Gulp shrimp because it allows the bait to lie flat. He uses triangular-shaped jig heads for 6-inch MC Swimbaits. Also, rather than setting the hook on spotted bay bass when it first bites, he just continues to reel until he feels pressure and allows that reeling action to preset the hook before any full swing to set the hook deeper. Most of the time it’s not even necessary to do a full swing. The fish is on. For halibut and sand bass, he uses a hook-set right away.
“Those spotted bay bass are so floppy when they’re hooked that if you set the hook hard right away, you can tear a hole in the lip and they’ll come in loose and get off,” Stock said. “But on halibut and sand bass, I like to give a good set.”
6. Stock’s recommended areas to catch various species in the bay are: Shallow, grassy flats for spotted bay bass. The south bay below the Coronado Bridge is a big area. He likes channel edges with structure for sand bass. Fish them on edges with 90-degree angles, places where upwelling will put bait up against the bank. His favorite halibut area is the main channel below the Coronado Bridge, at the point where the Glorietta Bay channel converges with the bay’s main channel. Bonefish are the rarest of the catches, but his favorite area is to start down by the Loews Coronado Bay Resort and let a northwest wind carry his boat on a drift to the east. “The key is to keep making drifts,” Stock said. “I’ve caught most of my fish on ghost shrimp.” He said bonito can be found in the Sweetwater Channel, an area that often holds some resident bonito. Barracuda and bonito often school out in the swifter current at the mouth of the bay.
Ed Zieralski: (619) 293-1225; firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ed Zieralski
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
It’s a good day to fish by the docks of this bay
Bay fishing tips: How and where to catch ’em
Whether it’s looking up at a massive aircraft carrier such as the Midway or motoring by the HMS Surprise from the movie “Master and Commander,” fishermen in San Diego Bay soon realize fishing there is as much about soaking in incredible sights as it is about boating fish.
If Jeff Stock has learned anything about guiding on San Diego Bay, he knows the city’s ever-growing skyline, the planes landing at Lindbergh Field, the Navy ships and pleasure craft and the constant whir of it all make for a special experience.
“I had some clients out during the Red Bull air races, and fishing was good, but they just wanted to pull up and watch those planes roll by,” said Stock, who guides in the bay, inshore and offshore for conventional and fly-fishing clients. “That’s what’s great about the bay. There’s always something different going on.”
Not that there aren’t plenty of fish to catch.
“There are so many species available here it’s tough to come up with a true San Diego Bay Slam,” said Stock, who in addition to guiding manages Bluewater Tackle and San Diego Fly Shop stores in Solana Beach and Temecula.
Stock has been fishing San Diego Bay since his father took him there on a Valco Bayrunner when he was 6. He learned his lessons well. Just last January he and his fishing partner Jake Ness, also of Bluewater Tackle, finished seventh in the San Diego Anglers Open Bay Bass Tournament.
“Our goal this year is to improve on that,” Stock said of the Jan. 19 tournament.
Stock knows many of the bay’s secret spots, and he has plenty of his own areas, thanks to fishing instincts only the best anglers have. He also has the good sense to cap off a half-day fishing trip with a 10-year-old fisherman by stopping by a Russian submarine, motoring past the Star of India and pausing later to watch the newest blast from the Navy’s big wake hovercraft.
If a client wants hard-core fishing, Stock is the man for that, too. He has his 20-foot Sea Fox boat set up perfectly to adapt for bay, inshore and offshore fishing. One of his specialties is putting fly fishermen on mako or blue sharks.
On a recent December day, he had his three fishermen on fish on their first drop in the bay. A sublegal halibut nailed a 3-inch Berkley Gulp shrimp to start the morning run. Soon, spotted bay bass began cooperating, slowly at first, but by late morning, it turned into a good winter bite. At one point all three anglers hooked up simultaneously, a triple on the cooperative little spotties.
Although the bay is loaded with different species, if fishermen want to catch a number of fish, then spotted bay bass and sand bass are the likely targets. Halibut also is an option because, at times, San Diego Bay is loaded with them, too. Lately, with the explosion of the bay’s bonefish population, anglers actually build trips fishing exclusively for them. Stock knows where they hang out, too.
“There are times when everything from schools of mackerel to schools of bonito and barracuda are pushing bait fish, busting bait under a flock of birds,” Stock said. “It’s an incredible fishery, and we’re just so lucky to have it right here to use all year-round.”
To reach Stock, call him at (760) 518-0277 or e-mail him at email@example.com to enter a drawing for a free trip.
Ed Zieralski: (619) 293-1225; firstname.lastname@example.org