Rock jetties can be found from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Most are extensions from marinas protecting the marina entrance; however others have been constructed to form harbors. Here is a link to some of the harbors in Southern California. http://www.sailorschoice.com/Harbors.htm
Fishing jetties is one of the most productive places an angler can fish as there are few places that can match the diversity that the structure itself can provide. The ocean currents and waves break onto the structure and into the rocks with an upward flow of all kinds of nutrients and food for many varieties of predators. At peek tide change the current has been measured at a speed of 5 to 10 knots (1.15077945 miles per hour = 1 knot). The fish sit in holes and wait for their food to go by and when it does they strike hard. Kelp often grows off the jetty on both the inside and outside walls. There are all kinds of different fishing techniques you can use to catch a variety of fish, even crabs and lobster.
Some jetties you can walk out on from shore and fish, while some are only accessible by boat, either small kayaks or large sport fishers. For the walk out jetty, a good technique is to drop bait into the inner jetty holes and catch sculpin, perch, large cabazon, and bass. Don't try this on the outer jetty wall as its likely too rough and probably dangerous. For those you can fish in float tubes, kayaks, skiffs, long boards, and other boats, the most effective option is to fish with plastics. I like using split tail grubs with a small strip of squid on it for smell and taste. Remember to bring extra gear, fishing in the rocks you will always get snags and likely lose a lot of gear until you know the rocks better. I prefer to fish out of small boats for jetty fishing, first they allow me to get close to the rocks; and second, they are easier to maneuver providing you are using an electric trolling motor. But make sure your trolling motor is quiet; the fish are used to the roar of the ocean, not the churning of a boat motor.
The largest of them all and one of the largest manmade harbors in the world is the Los Angeles/Long
Beach breakwater. Anglers have named it The Wall or everyone knows of the Long Beach Breakwater.
The wall is nine miles long. The rocks start at Cabrillo beach in San Pedro and end two miles off Alamitos
bay in Long Beach. There are two quarter mile long entrances. The entrances are 60 feet deep to
accommodate the freighter traffic. The depth is unusual for this kind of ocean structure and no other
breakwater comes close. This wall is right here in my backyard and I have been fishing it for years.
First of all, it is important not to get hung up on how far or how close you should be to the wall. Do what
is comfortable for you. I like to park the boat about 20 yards off the rocks and watch the drift, and then I
cast into the rocks just short of hitting them. As soon as my lure hits the water, I put the reel in gear with
the tip of the rod pointed straight ahead. I am slowly reeling and as soon as I feel a tug, I set the hook
hard and I don’t stop reeling. Most of the time, if they get any line in the first part of the fight, they will battle and win that fight 99% of the time. Sometimes, I will set the boat at the farthest I can cast. Letting my bait bounce off the rocks all the way down until I get to the where the rocks stop and meet the sand. It is a hard sand bottom, so I will bounce it off the bottom on its way back. Once I am under the boat, I then reel it up and start over. Fishing this way has produced a lot of strikes. You will mostly likely be catching bass, calico bass, sand bass, and sculpin here in Southern California waters. We can also catch rock bass, pile perch, surf perch, lingcod, flounders, and halibut.
The Long Beach Breakwater is known to harbor halibut. However, this is a different method of fishing, as halibut like to lie in the sand just outside of the rocks located on the end or in the openings of the jetties. If you are in a boat you would want to position your boat over the hard sand bottom which will echo on your depth finder. If you don't have any electronics, try fishing within 50 yards of any point. Use large blue/brown plastics with white bait on 10 lb. to 12 lb. leader line. The main line I use is 30 lb. Spectra as it cuts through the kelp better and I tend not to lose as many fish getting tied up in the kelp. Look at the end of a jetty or the opening as a grid system. Work each section of the grid completely before moving to a new section. By working the grid system you are covering a lot of territory and not wasting time going over the same spot 20 times. Remember to mark the spot on your GPS when you catch fish, so you can find the spot easily next time. If you do not have a GPS take note of the rock formations, how far down the jetty you are and of course how far off the wall you are. The more you pay attention, the better you will do and the more fish you will catch.
Personally my objective is to catch calico bass. The more, the better, of course. But I often remind myself, its ok to just catch one or two for dinner tonight. Calicos grow really slow, so if you catch an 8 lb. calico, he is over 20 years old. LET HIM GO!! He is a breeder. Take your picture and let him go. Remember it’s our responsibility to manage the fishing grounds too. The 12” to 13” ones are the best for eating anyway. Calico bass are good for tonight’s dinner or within the next few days, since bass does not freeze very well.
Fishing for Calico bass is best either early or late in the day or even at night. My favorite way to fish the jetty is drifting and casting the rubber tailed baits backed with strip of squid. If the wind and tide are right I can drift down the jetty for hundreds of yards before getting too close for comfort. I typically wear out my arm over this period because I cast my lure about every 5 to 10 feet all the way down. You want your bait entering the water within 5 feet of the where the rocks meet the water. Calicos will strike the lures on the drop, so have your line tight enough that you can feel them pick it up. You have to continually reel in for the next cast. If you cast short let it drop a few seconds as the wall of rocks go under the water on about a 45 degree angle. However, you will lose a lot of tackle if you are not paying attention. Remember you can use light line but I guarantee you this, any fish with size is going to rock you. I use 25 lb. and 30 lb. with my drag just about turned off, because if they get one foot of line on they will likely get broken off.
White Seabass (WSB) also dominate certain areas and at different times of the year. When you hook up with a WSB they like to run away from the rocks to fight in deeper water. They are difficult to find though, so you have to hunt for them. Slow trolling live bait seems to be the best. Use a heavy trolling rod with 30 lb. to 40 lb. test line. The method I like the most is called bounce balling, were we drop a 2 to 5 lbs. weight on a downrigger with a quick release swivel. I like my baits back at least 4 to 6 feet behind the bounce ball. My favorite bait is squid, but we do really well on small live mackerel and sardines also. Troll at your boats idling speed and when your rod goes down, don't touch it just yet, make sure the fish is definitely on then set the hook and make sure you keep the line tight. You should know that white seabass travel in groups. Once you get a strike, get ready there are more in the area. It is important that every person knows their job when a strike happens. The rule on my boat is the closest person to the rod gets it. Hopefully the person assigned to that pole is the one that gets it. Then REEL, everyone one else has a job to do: reel in the other rods, get the down riggers up and toss out some chum, oh and mark the spot on the GPS. If you go in with a plan of attack you will get more fish on the boat.
An important reminder: white seabass only bite in the first gray of morning and last hour before dark. Now have I caught them at 8, 9 or 10 in the morning? Yes. Have I caught them in the afternoon? Yes. Is it normal? NO. 90% of the time, we do not catch white seabass midday.
Trolling up and down the rock line using various plugs can produce a lot of different fish like barracuda, bonito, mackerel, white seabass, yellowtail, salmon, calicos, sand bass and sharks. Different lure are more prone to catching different kinds of fish. Deep running types like Magnum Rapalas and Rebels pulled at speeds of 4 to 5 knots attracts both sand bass and calicos. Barracuda, bonito and sometimes yellowtail like to hit them, but most of the time they like a faster running bait. When I troll the jetty I don’t just make one pass and at one speed. I change it up and I troll different kind of lures and at different speeds. Until I find what works, and not just which lure is working but which speed is working.
The color of your lure is important, you want to match the color of your lure to what bait is naturally in the water at the time of you are fishing. I like to go by the bait barge to see what kind of bait they have been catching, so I know what colors are going to work better. Here in Southern California you can use most any color you like, just as long as that color is blue and white. Blue is the most common color that represents most of all our baits here in SoCal including anchovy, mackerel, and sardines. Now don’t get me wrong, green, brown, white, yellow are all great colors too, but the color that catches the most fish on average is a blue and white jig, just keep that in mind. Remember in water the deeper you go the more the color drowns out, and some colors are easier to see at different depths and for those that scuba dive you know what I’m talking about.
On days where the sun is out and it’s a bright clear day, I like lures that are bright and very colorful; I like them to have bright white sides just like most of all our live baits have. On most of my trips the brightest jigs always out fish the dull jigs on bright days, but on overcast days, the dull jigs out fish the bright ones. So you need to pay attention to the weather conditions as they change, and make sure you change your lures to best fit the conditions. Next you need to pay attention to the water conditions. The clearer water tend to favor the light and bright jigs, while the cloudier water favors your black, purple and brown baits.
Hope this helps you be more productive on your next fishing adventure, if you have any questions feel free to send us an email at info@AllTheOutdoors.com.
Submitted by: Michael Dickerson, All The Outdoors
All The Outdoors © All rights reserved.