Big Halibut | Deep Cranking San Diego Bay

Discussion in 'Bay Fishing' started by Risentidefishing, Dec 5, 2020.

  1. Risentidefishing

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    Had a free day with good weather and tides on Tuesday and spent it doing a little prefishing for some upcoming tournaments. Started the day running over to Mission Bay where the bite was absolutely BRUTAL. 15ft+ visibility and only a few small nibbles (probably smelt) in 3hrs. Think it needs a good storm to stir things up for the daytime fishing. Honestly can't remember the last time it was that slow in there.

    Zipped back over to San Diego Bay to save the day and started getting into some fish right away. Still a bit on the slow side but a lot better than in MB. When the bite is slow one of my favorite ways to catch fish and cover water is with deep diving crankbaits. I think a lot of people think crankbaits only work when the water is warm in the bay but it is actually quite the opposite. Most of our best crankbait fishing will be from now until spring time. My favorite right now are the Berkley Dredgers and I always carry three colors in four different depth ranges. I'll usually switch between a natural baitfish, chartreuse, and brown/orange crab type color depending on water clarity, structure type, and light penetration. You'll want to carry a 14.5 (9-11ft), 17.5 (11-13ft), 20.5 (13-15ft), and 25.5 (15-18ft). I always size up my crankbaits relative to where I'm fishing. If my depth finder reads 11ft I'm throwing the crankbait rated 11-13ft as they never make it as deep in saltwater.

    For tackle you really want a slow action Crankbait specific rod as it helps deflect off of cover and keep the treble hooks from pulling out. Any 6:1-8:1 gear ratio reel will work but I've found 7:1 to be a happy medium. If I new I was only going to be using the 20.5 and 25.5 I might opt for the 6:1. Another thing I like to do to optimize my fishing time on the water is use quick clips to switch between lures. I like the P-line style clips and remove the split ring from the line tie spot on the crankbait to make changing lures easier.

    To fish them I start by bombing out my cast as far as possible (preferably down wind) and fast winding it down until I touch bottom or feel like I'm in the desired strikezone. From here I'll slow down slightly but still like to maintain a fast pace. Some people like to slow wind them but I've had best results going fast and covering more water. That's the real advantage of fishing crankbaits. While retrieving you will want to be mindful of how your rod angle effects your lure depth. I normally start with my rod tip down to get to the maximum depth quickly and will raise my rod from there to make small adjustments to the depth. As you get closer to the boat drop your rod tip back down to gain a little more depth before your lure starts to come up. If you are fishing around docks, rocks, and mooring cans you can also swing your rod out to either side to help angle your lure closer to the structure. When I'm fishing around docks I do best when my crankbait is on the bottom within a 3-5ft range of the shady side of the piling, although either side can produce. One benefit of putting time in with the crankbait is that it's a favorite of San Diego Bay Halibut as you'll see in the video below.



    In the video I'm fishing a sandy flat around moored sailboats. Without a chart and depth finder it may all look the same but there's actually three different depth zones. This was on a lower tide and the water depth was 16-17ft which allowed me to get my crankbait down places that probably rarely if ever see one. At the time I was using the Dredger 25.5 in Homer color (chartreuse/green back). When the fish hit I knew right away it was a halibut by the big throbbing head shakes followed by dead weight. My friend actually pulled a 32" inch Halibut on a deep diving crankbait from this same stretch back in April so I knew it was somewhere they liked to hang. One thing I like to do when I get a big Halibut close to the surface is loosen my drag a few clicks as you'll see me do in the video. You also never want to have the fish's head break the surface so as I get it up I actually pay out a little line to encourage the fish to take another run. This buys me enough time to pull out my gaff and stick a shot right into the belly. ALWAYS shoot for the belly. Anywhere else and you're going to have a crazy fish on your hands. Final tip, I use a custom made gaff with a huge barbed marlin hook to help keep the fish from popping off the gaff. Once they're on they ain't coming off. This fished measured in at 34" and a little over 13lbs. Hope this helps and maybe convinces some of you to put down the swimbait and learn a new technique!
     
    #1 Risentidefishing, Dec 5, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
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  2. barepixels

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    that's cool. thanks for the write-up. congrats man
     
  3. Slater

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    Nice job on switching from the net to the stick'em hook.....
     
  4. galen

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    At what point did you realize “ This ain’t no bass!”? :emoji_hushed:
     
  5. Risentidefishing

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    First couple big headshakes and heavy dead weight was a dead giveaway! Was thinking halibut or angel shark until I saw it come up
     
  6. Slater

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    Then you were thinking, lunch.....
     
  7. Werfless

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    Angels taste better than the halibut, IMO...
     
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  8. Risentidefishing

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    I’ve heard they’re excellent too. What’s it like fileting one of those things? Wouldn’t even know where to begin
     
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  9. Werfless

    Werfless The Coach ..RIP my friends
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    Not so hard.. start at the top and start cutting. You may want to outline the fillet with a hook blade razor knife or carpet blade. Can cut into fours like a Halibut, or side off, shark bones other than teeth and jaw are just cartilage, so it depends on what you want to put your knife through
     
  10. dmorgan3

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    Conventional wisdom is that low tide is slow fishing. But I have had times where using a deep diving crankbait in a channel next to grass flats in South Bay caught one spottie after another in a negative tide. A swimbait or curly tail grub did not do the same. And low tide has been the best time for halibut for me too. I would use crankbaits more often if it wasn't for grass catching on them.
     
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  11. fisheromen

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    Believe it or not you can drop shot a crank.
     
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  12. Werfless

    Werfless The Coach ..RIP my friends
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    Or c rig
     
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  13. fisheromen

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    Or rubber core weight. Anything to get it down.
     
  14. dmorgan3

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    I have trolled a small Rapala using a dropper loop and sinker from a float tube to get down to midsummer trout in the Eastern Sierras. It works, the Rapala is good since it has a lot of action at low speed. I used a light baitcasting outfit with 6 lb. line. Good workout too.

    Seems like the dropshot tag end would interfere with the crankbait bill.
     
  15. Treble Chuck

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    slack low tide has always been my favorite time to throw artificials in the lagoons or deep shoreline holes. funny. Personal best Hali is 29” out of Ponto and a 24” WSB same spot both on a dead slack tide, lead head root beer gummy dragged over the bottom.
     
  16. Treble Chuck

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    And spotties galore. Over the years I started to tear up the little ones jaws and now I crimp/file down the barbs because muh feels bad
     
  17. Treble Chuck

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    1F4E6306-39D8-4BC3-A52A-F24EE819C44C.jpeg
     
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