By Zach Cavanagh

With certain fish closed off for the early season, sculpin has been the big catch in early January. Photo Courtesy of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching

While there are certain fish out of play with the early-year closure, there is still plenty biting at Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching.

In his weekly report, Captain Brian Woolley said that the sculpin fishing has been very good. On the half-day trips, it’s a tough go with rockfish, whitefish and sheephead all closed until March — they have to be released when caught — but anglers have been getting great sculpin action. Woolley said sculpin are aggressive and love jumping on the swimbait currently being used.

The fleet has also seen a surprising amount of yellowtail in the cooler water. On Saturday, Jan. 5, the San Mateo found some kelp off the beach and hauled in 17 yellowtail. Woolley said that once the weather front goes though, they might get another shot at the fish in that area.

The Halibut Derby continues with not too much change in the last few weeks. The opening-weekend 25-pounder still tops the leaderboard, and there are still only four catches above 20 lbs. Woolley said there is a good amount of bait along the beach that should get some of the halibut out of hiding.

Here are the latest fish counts out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching:

Jan. 8 – 2 boats, 47 anglers: 109 sculpin, 3 sand bass, 21 sculpin released.

Jan. 7 – 2 boats, 39 anglers: 3 calico bass, 2 sand bass, 75 sculpin, 60 bass released.

Jan. 5 – 5 boats, 77 anglers: 17 yellowtail, 8 sand bass, 85 sculpin, 1 blacksmith perch, 2 mackerel, 36 bass released, 12 vermilion rockfish released.

Jan. 4 – 3 boats, 93 anglers: 2 sand bass, 35 sculpin, 1 halibut, 1 triggerfish, 12 sculpin released, 11 whitefish released, 15 rockfish released, 20 vermilion rockfish released, 7 bocaccio released, 15 bass released, 4 halibut released.

Jan. 3 – 2 boats, 99 anglers: 217 sculpin, 3 sand bass, 1 halibut, 1 blue perch, 25 bass released.

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