Newport surf fishing red hot

Surf fishing is wide open all along the south coastline. Prime spots

off Huntington Beach are kicking out barred perch, corbina and

yellowfin croaker while the calmer surf line between the Newport and

Balboa piers has been the beach to fish for perch, a fair number of

corbina and halibut. The water temperature is holding in the low 70s

and this is making fishing very comfortable during the early morning

hours and on into the night time fishing period.

Angler's Center in Newport Beach is always a good place to find

out what's happening around Newport and a stop by the tackle shop

last week to check on off shore fishing ended by setting up a fishing

date with reel service manager, Ed Dillon of Newport Beach, to fish a

good morning tide on Thursday. "We have a medium high tide at 8:27

a.m. which should produce pretty decent fishing until the summer

crowds hit the beach at 9 a.m. Lets plan on meeting at 6 a.m. at the

Stuft Surfer Cafe to walk down to the beach and start fishing. I'll

go out the night before and catch us a bunch of sand crabs so we

won't have to waste time finding crabs when the fishing gets going,"

stated Dillon, who has fished the surf and Newport Bay for nearly a

half a century.

Dillion invited Jim Decker of Newport to join us for the morning.

Decker is a heavy crane operator, but spends his days off crewing on

sportfishers out of the harbor and is one of the best "local's" when

it comes to fishing ultra-light tackle. Decker showed up with a small

conventional reel filled with two-pound mono and on the way down to

the beach talked about the world record 47-pound thresher shark he

caught on two-pound test recently. Also joining our fishing party

would be my wife, Toni, who loves to fish the productive waters

around Newport.

Dillon set us up right in front of the lifeguard tower were he

went through the proper rigging for fishing small sand crabs. The rod

and reel selected by this outdoor writer was a Daiwa SS700 reel,

spooled with six-pound Maxima and matched to a Daiwa "Inshore"

seven-foot spinning rod. Dillon was outfitted with his home made,

20-year-old noodle tip fiberglass rod, quality spinning reel,

four-pound test Ande line, crab box, leader case, hemostats (used to

remove the hook), Polaroid sunglasses and, just in case we ran short

on bait, he dragged along his custom crab catcher.

The terminal tackle we all ended up fishing was a 1/2 ounce

sliding egg sinker, small red glass bead (to avoid line chaffing),

tiny barrel swivel, two feet of Seaguar fluorocarbon leader material

and a size No. 6 Owner Mutu-light circle hook. "You won't have to

cast too far as the fish are in close feeding on the sand crabs being

washed around by the waves. Just try and cast behind the foam of a

small wave and keep a tight line. These circle hooks are great at

hooking a fish without having to set the hook and when it comes time

to releasing the fish they are by far the best hooks to use when you

plan on releasing a lot of fish," were the words of wisdom passed on

by Dillon.

The sand crabs were on the small side so Dillon suggested we put

two on the hook. "These perch and corbina are after the eggs in the

crabs so the more color we can show them the more bites you are

likely to have," added Dillon. This writer was the first in the water

and on the first cast hooked a small barred perch. Dillon was on his

first cast and he also hooked a nice perch while Decker's second cast

produced his first corbina of the season, a feisty two pounder.

The waves and backwash were perfect as the bite got better and

better when the sun tried to break through the clouds. Joggers were

everywhere and the lifeguards were just getting started for a long

day when the best fishing started. Toni had joined us and for nearly

1 1/2 hours one of us was hooked up to a perch or corbina the whole

time.

Dillon caught a number of perch in the 1- to 1.5-pound class, Decker was happy to add his corbina to the days total and Toni had a

great time releasing small perch while our yellow lab, Timber,

watched all the action from his tethered position on a stretch of dry

beach.

Surf fishing can be a lot of fun for the entire family and it

doesn't cost very much to get involved in this century old pastime.

Most any kind of spinning tackle is ok, but a reel with a smooth drag

is a must, especially when you hook into a hard pulling corbina,

adult perch or legal halibut. The lighter the line the better and

those Owner circle hooks tied on to fluorocarbon leader material are

a must if your quest is to catch the prize fish of the Newport surf

-- the corbina.

There are some options to surf fishing when sand crabs are not

available. According to Dillon the second most popular bait is a rock

mussel taken out of the ocean. Don't use bay mussels in the surf as

they just don't stay on the hook. Other baits that are effective

along the surf from Huntington Harbor to South Laguna include: razor

clams, blood worms, cut mackerel, squid and when the bite really gets

hot don't overlook rigging up a black with silver flake two inch grub

on 1/4 ounce jig head. For those looking for the ultimate sport in

surf fishing try fly fishing. The best pattern selection for a fly is

a small brown and orange wet fly with plenty of soft hackle fished on

a sink tip line with a tapered fluorocarbon leader.

There is a limit of 10 fish under the miscellaneous category in

the Department of Fish and Game Rules and Regs and anyone over the

age of 16 must have an ocean fishing license in their possession. The

best hours to fish are two hours before a high or low tide and, to

avoid swimmers, try and set up a fishing time that puts you on the

beach by 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Free tide books are available at

Angler's Center, Davey's Locker, Newport Landing Sportfishing and

West Marine.

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