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Catch Reports 2018

Palos Verdes 2/3

    One morning at the beginning of the 2016 opaleye season, I stopped by Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach to rake in a bucket-load of algae bait and found the whole park fenced off with the chain link mesh you can’t peer through.  Disappointed, I drove off mumbling to myself all the way to the west end of Edinger Ave. in Huntington Beach to check the backwater there.  No algae was growing along the mud banks.  Since I now had a free day to goof off, I popped by one of The Breakwall Crew’s original places we scored the green bait; under the metal bridge off Henry Ford Ave. in Wilmington but here too the silt was bare.

    Once home I inquired with Google what’s going on at Colorado Lagoon.  It seems the city was revamping the place by installing walkways along the shoreline and planting native vegetation.  Also they’re clearing out the tidal culvert pipe that leads to Marine Stadium and scooping out all the junk and debris from the lagoon proper.

    A year later during opaleye season 2017 while I was in the neighborhood I cruised by one day to find the project complete and we have two new informational signs to review.  The project sign says closed from 10pm until 5am.  I sometimes show up to harvest algae at 4:55.  I guess I can leave home 10 minutes later next trip.  Also it says stay on trails, no trespassing into habitat areas.  I am pretty sure the intertidal zone where the algae mats grow they are considering a habitat area.  This might be contentious.  On the other hand, they only constructed the frou-frou dog-people trail on the west side.  The east bank, even thought it was inaccessible last year, was untouched and is still maintained urban park style with the usual crab grass, dandelions and non-native pine trees.

    The nature sign also listed a few rules/guidelines but neither posting exactly alludes to a prohibition on filling a pale with algae at 5 in the morning.  The best part was, on this day at least, there is plenty of the stuff to gather whenever upcoming tides and ocean conditions are fishing favorable.

    The company I work for gave us King Day off this year.  Tides and a two-foot swell were perfect for opaleye opportunity off Palos Verdes.  I stopped by the lagoon at the prescribed time but as I searched with headlight along the banks, I found in less than a month since that last visit all the algae had disappeared.  I could find only a thin green film.

    Historically what I have noticed is, after a significant rainfall event the algal mats will regrow within two weeks.  A small squall blew through in January and sure enough today I found substantial growth of the quality stringy ulva intestinalis to load a bucket.

    At the cove off Paseo Del Mar, north of Pt. Vicente, we have a one-foot swell this morning and a high tide of 5.5 feet at 10:55.  This means when I make my first cast at 6 it will be low tide.  Once down the trail I huffed and puffed along the rocky shoreline to the tip of the point to the right, where I encountered perfect conditions; no wind and just enough swell to slosh the water between boulders without my clothes getting wet.  Normally at this spot, as it is north-facing, the water is too rough to fish.

    I chummed some of the muddier algae balls into what little white water there was then cast the five-inch WildEye mackerel for bass using my twenty-pound outfit.  In the early morning bourgeoning light I saw there wasn’t much space between the kelp stringers to fling the lure safely and after thirty tries I gave it up.

    I switched over to the algae opaleye bait rig but could tell after an hour of standing there watching for my bobber to go under it was going to be a boring day.  Not one hit was noticed by 7:30 when the tide started to return.

    I packed up and walked toward the cove to a higher rock and  tried there, all the while waiting for high tide in order to fish the very back of the inlet.  That is where ulva grows on the rocks and only at high water do the opaleye come in to graze it.  Meanwhile, I had no bites the next hour casting from various rocks on my way back in.

    Atop a flat rock at the back of the cove I parked my weary butt and tossed out.  I hoped the next two hours of incoming tide would have the opaleye up and in to feed.  A spearfishing diverdude hauled out a short distance away.  We chatted; he was after white seabass, which have been making a comeback of sorts around PV the past couple years.  I inquired where he might have seen any opaleye hanging out.  You knew he would point over to the rocks I just came back from over to the right halfway to the point.  I said thanks, packed up and headed back over there.

    I stopped to scout a rock to stand on when another fisherbro passed by.  We exchanged pleasantries then got down to business.  I mentioned diverdude said he saw opaleye over this-a-way and fisherbro confirmed he has landed many at that rock right there, pointing to a fine tall basaltic pillar just fifty yards away.  He invited me over but I said, nah, I’ll stay here for now then try the rockpile at the back of the cove right at high tide in an hour.  I’ll try his rock some other day.

    I chummed, had plenty of rocky bottom water depth in front of me with a large space between kelp stringers but in that hour I again noticed no bites.

    I retreated to that comfy rock at the back of the cove fifteen minutes before high tide.  Ten minutes later my bobber finally went under and I reeled in an opaleye!  Congrats to me but the problem was it was only worth about one-and-a-quarter taco and I released it without a photo.  I chummed some more and in the next fifteen minutes I noticed several other bites but I could tell they were all little guys picking the bait strands off the hook.  I saw no other bobber wiggles in the next thirty minutes and I said, see ya!

    I have noticed this before.  Early in the morning the larger opaleye bite then as daylight progresses the nibbling fish become smaller.  Now as I have that new Monday through Friday schmuck job, the perfect 8am high tide won’t be easy to time with only two mornings off per week.  For instance last weekend high tide was at five in the morning but then you wouldn’t be able to rake in any bait because it all would have been in the water out of reach.  You show up to the lagoon at 5am on a 8am high tide day you have easier access to the bait due to the lower water level.  Then when you start fishing at 6am you have two hours before and two after high tide prime time to get ‘er done.  Wednesday the 14th is that day.  The only other issue is the ocean swell.  You plan a vacation from work ahead of time but you of course cannot predict how large the waves will be.  I always check the swell chart before I drive all the way over there.  If its three feet or over, forget about it.