In Southern California, from January 1 to February 28 we endure a rockfish closure to allow these fish to go through their spawning period unmolested and replenish the fishery. It’s a good reason to shut things down, but painful for hardcore anglers nonetheless. While many use this time to for annual maintenance of their gear, it’s a hot time to hit the beach!
Wintertime surf fishing in Southern California offers a fun distraction that can easily help you while away the two-month closure. The beaches are much less crowded in the winter and the fishing is pretty dang good! In this article, you’ll learn the basics of how to get started…
Let’s face it… It’s winter and you’re probably not spending much time fishing. Most of the exotics have moved out of the area for warmer water, the bite on most local species has slowed as the water has cooled down, and rockfish season is now closed in U.S. waters. Hunting season is in full swing, there is snow in the local mountains and football is on TV. Even with all those things telling you to keep your fishing gear in the garage, I’m here to tell you that there is one type of fishing that is on fire right now and based on the crowds (or lack thereof) many Southern California anglers are missing out.
Barred surfperch can be found along the Southern California coast almost year round, but wintertime is prime time to target these aggressive fish. As the water cools, they move into the shallow surf zone to mate. Barred surf perch are unique in that they are one of the few fish to give birth to live young. If you happen to catch a pregnant female (usually during the spring) be sure to handle her with care and get her back into the water as quickly as possible.
One of the best things about fishing for surfperch is that it’s so easily accessible.
Photo credits: BD Outdoors (top), SoCal Salty (above)