4 saltwater fishing tactics to use in California

nshore fishing, especially in quiet bays, does not require the expensive high-end equipment that true ocean fishing does. Before I start, let me say that my recommendations are what has worked for me over the years. It may not be the best or only choice available. For inshore fishing, you really need two set-ups. One for light duty fish like snook, redfish, flounder, pompano, speckled trout, Spanish Mackerel, and smaller fish. The second set-up is for larger, more aggresive fish like sea bass, striper, tarpon, tripletail, cobia, bluefish, dorado, small to med. sharks, and other bruisers you might come up against. For the light rig, you want a reel that can handle the abuse that salt-water fishing can dish out. Your favorite bass-fishing Ambassaduer reel is not going to work in the salt. You need one constructed of stainless steel, graphite, or anodized aluminum, with 3 to 6 stainless steel bearings. The more bearings, the smoother the reel operates. You will need a gear ratio of at least 5 to 1 up to 6.2 to 1, and beyond. Look for a spool that is longer than the short, stubby freshwater types. This will allow you to cast light baits farther. The reel needs to be able to hold at least 150 yards, or preferabley 250 yards of 12 pound monofilament. Rod length is your choice, but if you are fishing from shore, or a pier, a long rod is not necesary. A 7-8 foot, Med action graphite rod will do nicely. Just make sure it has Fuji guides and a strong reel seat. For the heavy set-up, the same reel specifications apply, only now you need a larger reel that can hold 350 yards of 20 Lb. test monofilament. If you use a level-wind reel, make sure you get one with a bait clicker. The rod construction still applies, only now you need a Med-Heavy action. A 7-1/2′ to 9′ rod is plenty. If you are going to troll, you need a good selection of jigs and saltwater lures for the species you want. In a nutshell, most of what you want will be imitations of squid, shrimp, mullet, eel, and cigar minnows. You might want to purchase a ‘spider’ rig for your boat, to allow you to troll with several evenly spaced rods. Fior bait fishing from a boat, pier or shore, you will need wire leaders, saltwater barrel swivels, hooks apropriate for the species you are fishing for, and a good selection of pyramid, egg and bell sinkers. Most bait fishing in bays will be bottom fishing with a double hook rig, For speckled trout, oftentimes, you can get your limit with a double jig set-up rigged under a popping cork. You can wade fish in some areas, especially along the Florida coat and the Keys, but you need to be aware of the hazards this type of fishing involves. First off, be aware of the times of incoming tides. This brings larger predatory fish like sharks and barracuda closer to shore. If you are fishing near breakers, watch out for undertows. They can be deadly. Do not keep fish on a stringer, or on anything attached to you. They draw sharks and other predators. Keep your catch in a bag or container that does not allow an exchange of water. This will hold the blood, and smells in the bag and maybe not attract unwanted attention from other fish-eaters. Never wade fish in saltwater alone. Never wade fish at night, or early morning or dusk. This is asking for trouble. Watch out for deep holes, coral, sharp bottom debris, etc…If you get cut, leave the water immediatly. Never wade barefooted or in sandals. Watch out for jellyfish and especially the Portugese Man-o-War. They can slip up on you unnoticed, and Man-o-War stings can be very painful and serious. If you get stung, leave the water and get medical attention as soon as possible. When walking, slide your feet along the bottom. This will give stingrays a chance to get out of your way without stinging you (maybe). If you step on one and get stung, DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THE SPIKE BY YOURSELF! Go to the Emergency Room at the local hospital and let them remove it safetly. And one last thng: Beware the stonefish. They live all along both U.S. coasts, especially along rocky bays. THEY ARE DEADLY. If you step on one, get medical help as fast as humanly possible. They can sting you through the heaviest boots. Avoid wading in locations known to have stonefish populations. A little common sense will keep you out of most trouble. If you notice the water appearance changing in front of you, ie: more choppy, darker water, swirls, etc…, don’t wade into it. It means stronger current, deeper water or maybe even a whirlpool or undertow. If you notice baitfish jumping clear of the water near you, leave the water. It means one or more large fish are chasing them, most likely a shark or bluefish. Bluefish will attack and bite you. Leave the water immedeatly and cast to them from the safety of shore. If you notice dolphins or porpoises around you, leave the water. Most of the time, these playful mammals will not bother you, but sometimes they get moody, especially if they have babbies with them. They can hurt you. It’s best to leave the water to them. After all, it is their home, and you’re just a visitor. Don’t wear out your welcome. Happy Fishing

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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