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by: George Van Zant
Rock jetties can be found from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Most are extensions from marinas protecting boat traffic to deep water. Others are constructed to form harbors. The Los Angeles, Long Beach breakwater forms one of the the largest man made harbors in the world. Anglers prefer to name it the Long Beach breakwater or the "Wall" because 80% of it fronts the north and south city boundary lines.
The well placed rocks extend for nine miles. The two quarter mile long entrances are called the San Pedro light and the Long Beach light because of the lighthouses' that guard over them. The rocks start at Cabrillo beach in San Pedro and end 2 miles off Alamitos bay in Long Beach. The base is 45 to 60 feet deep on the outside and 35 to 45 deep on the inside. The entrances are 60 feet deep to accommodate the freighter traffic. The depth is unusual for this kind of ocean structure. No other breakwater comes close to these depths.
No other place can match the diversity of potential angling adventures. The ocean currents abruptly ram head-on into the rocks and flow upward with all kinds of nutrients and forage food for many varieties of predators. The tidal exchange though the gaps sometimes has the water moving at 5 to 10 knots. Kelp stringers line the breakwater on both sides. What else can you as an angler ask for? There's all kinds of different fishing techniques you can use to catch a variety of fish.
You can pull a skiff into the rocks on the inside and drop bait into the holes and catch sculpin, a variety of perch, large cabazon, and bass. Don't try this on the outside though it's too rough and dangerous. The breakwater is also notorious for large halibut. Basically, halibut like to lay in and around the rocks located on the points. Fish for them at the base of the formation. That's the area where the rocks and sand meet. Position your boat over the hard sand bottom which will echo on your depth finder. If you don't have a finder, fish within 50 yards of any point. Use large brown bait on 10 lb to 12 lb line.
Traditionally, the main objective for anglers has been the calico bass. The best time to fish for them is early and late in the day or at night. The favorite attack by most is drifting and casting the rubber tails like Fish Traps and Big Hammer Tails. A great feature of the breakwater is that the westerlies can blow your boat for 200 yards before the rocks get too close for comfort. You can wear out your arm over this period because calicos will strike the lures on the drop within 5 yards of the surface rocks. Any further away draws a blank so you have to continually reel it in for the next cast.
The "Wall" houses' the largest calicos' on the coast but they are also the most difficult to get into the boat. Their apartment of razor sharp rocks has an infinite maze of corners and turns. 30 lb test line is the minimum you can use, and you also have to deploy a powerful fast bend rod. Lighter lines produce many more strikes but it's impossible to land a fish over 5lbs. With the reel drag hammered down you literally haul them out of their living room.
Another method is to fly line large brown bait into their habitat. This is probably the best for the monster bass, but you still have to cast the 30 lb line. Reel backlashes are prevalent and an 8 to 10 pound calico on the other end can be true chaos. Don't hesitate wind them in backlash and all. One turn of the reel can make a difference. Take heed, every backlash produces kinks in your line that severely reduces the line strength.
White sea bass also dominate certain areas of the scene and are easier to fight than calicos'. Hooked up, they like to run away from the rocks to fight it out 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. Attach a three foot leader to a swivel and clip it on a 4 ounce torpedo sinker. Small live mackerel and sardines are the best baits. Hook them through the nose with a Mustad 9174 hook, size #2/0 or larger. Troll at idling speed and when your rod goes down, don't touch it until it the fish is definitely on. Sea bass seem to always mouth the bait for a period of time before they finally engulf it. Trolling position of your boat should be at a depth of 10 to 15 feet over the rocks and the sinker must bounce on them. Once you get a hookup, cast live bait into the area. Start with a 1/4 ounce sinker like a large split shot and add more weight if you don't get a strike. White sea bass are very gregarious, they travel in groups. Once you get a strike you know there are more in the vicinity. Plan your techniques well because it's not unusual to hook a 30 pounder. Finally, sea bass only bite in the first gray of morning and the last hour before dark.
Trolling up and down the rock line using various plugs can produce barracuda, bonito and calicos'. 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 at faster speeds. In the following order the best colors are anchovy, mackerel and sardine blue. Experimentation can easily be
accomplished by starting at the beginning or end of the breakwater. 9 miles allows plenty of time to change plugs and trolling speeds to discover the conditions that produce strikes.
If you want a real blast try this. Two bait receivers are moored behind the protective rocks. One is near the San Pedro light, the other at the Long Beach end. Stoke up your bait tanks with live anchovies. (and sardines if they have them.) Don't worry about over crowding them, you will be unloading them shortly. Anchor your boat 30 yards off any one of the five ends and throw out at least 5 nets of chum. Flyline a hot anchovy or sardine with 10 to 12 pound test line into the chum. Bonita, barracuda and the bass will turn the water to froth as they decimate the chum. Keep the chum line going and your rod will continually be bent until the bait runs out. And if you're lucky a rare silver salmon may decide to eat your bait.
Added: Sun Apr 13 2008
Last Modified: Fri May 22 2009
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