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Anglers seeing good signs ahead of summer season

By Zach Cavanagh

Spring is typically a transitional time in the fishing seasons before a strong summer, and the fish are biting more and more on Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching expeditions.

In his weekly report, Captain Brian Woolley said the fishing along the coast has been improving every day, especially on the half-day trips. While the water hovered between 61-62 degrees and there was still some red tide water found, bass has still been the predominant catch. Woolley said that sliding sinker rigs were catching the bass, and reverse dropper loop rigs were pulling in sheephead and sand bass.

Out on the three-quarter-day trips, the boats are staying out in deep water, with good days of vermilion rockfish and other mixed rockfish. Anglers on these trips are also catching some sculpin. When the anglers get their fill in the deep water, the three-quarter-day trips also clean up with some bass to round out the day.

On the longer trips out to San Clemente Island, the Fury has seen good signs of yellowtail. Woolley said that schools of 15- to 20-pound yellowtail are showing up on the sonar readings, but not yet biting, as schools that big should be. The yellowtail that were caught came on live bait, surface irons and the “yo-yo” iron. The island trips are still catching some bonito and nice showings of bass. Woolley said action there is about ready to go off, with decent signs all around.

Dana Wharf regular angler Lee Obergfell (left) poses with his halibut catch aboard the Clemente with Captain Chad Steffen. Photo: Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching

Dana Wharf also recently completed another successful five-week session of after-school kids fishing camps. The summer 2021 Kids Fishing Camps are on the way, but all three sessions of the four-day camps are already sold out. However, there is a waiting list for those still interested.

There are also kids finish clinics every Sunday for $10. Each clinic includes a free ticket and finish equipment for a Sunday afternoon half-day trip.

For more information on kids camps and clinics, call 949.496.5794 or go to

Here are the latest fish counts from Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching:

May 12 – 4 boats, 86 anglers: 5 yellowtail, 45 calico bass, 10 sand bass, 15 sculpin, 34 sheephead, 86 whitefish, 29 rockfish, 25 vermilion rockfish, 13 barracuda, 23 bonito, 12 halfmoon perch, 1 blue perch, 95 bass released.

May 11 – 4 boats, 86 anglers: 85 vermilion rockfish, 25 rockfish, 15 calico bass, 12 blacksmith perch, 5 sculpin, 3 sand bass, 3 sheephead, 3 whitefish, 1 Spanish jack, 103 bass released.

May 10 – 3 boats, 55 anglers: 32 sheephead, 30 sculpin, 20 calico bass, 15 vermilion rockfish, 12 rockfish, 8 sand bass, 4 whitefish, 2 blue perch, 95 bass released.

Sarah Rahmani shows off a yellowtail catch out at San Clemente Island aboard the Fury on Sunday, May 9. Photo: Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching

May 9 – 7 boats, 115 anglers: 16 yellowtail, 97 vermilion rockfish, 38 calico bass, 20 bonito, 16 sand bass, 12 whitefish, 11 sanddab, 11 rockfish, 7 sculpin, 7 sheephead, 1 halibut, 162 bass released.

May 8 – 9 boats, 164 anglers: 7 yellowtail, 61 vermilion rockfish, 54 calico bass, 52 rockfish, 33 whitefish, 28 bonito, 15 sanddab, 11 sheephead, 5 bocaccio, 4 sculpin, 3 sand bass, 225 bass released.

May 7 – 2 boats, 24 anglers: 53 rockfish, 51 vermilion rockfish, 5 bocaccio, 3 halibut, 3 sculpin, 2 bonito.


Zach Cavanagh Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at

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