Originally posted on 2/26/2020. Updated on 4/28/2020
A White Sea Bass (WSB) in California is on many angler’s bucket lists as it a favorite for its table fare and a challenge to catch.
Over the past 3 years, a big majority of WSB were caught on California’s coast on a Hookup Bait (HUB). From Ventura’s Channel Islands, Santa Monica Bay, Catalina, Kelp lines from Newport to Oceanside, San Diego, Coronado Islands, and Ensenada. This data comes from social media, fishing reports, the many success stories we love and receive at Hookup Baits and from our own personal experiences from the HUB Crew. We would like to share this information to help anglers in trying to catch one of these elusive ghosts that we are blessed to have living on our coast.
Where to Look?
Let’s start with the Channel Islands and work our way down to Ensenada.
Each area’s technique differs a little. But the main thing they all have in common is keeping the bait in the zone. WSB are usually suspended so keeping the bait in the middle water column is important. A lot of the WSB are caught while fishing calico and sand bass while the bait is sinking or being retrieved through the zone. If you are going just for WSB you’re going to want to make a long cast, let the bait sink halfway down then do a slow lazy retrieve with a pause every 5 to 10 cranks. Slow trolling also works.
Channel Islands Area
This is where the majority of the WSB catches have come from the past few years. The WSB in this area have been really keyed in on the red crabs each spring. And nothing imitates and looks like a red crab in action like the Red Crab 5/8 HUB. These fish have been from the surface to 40 feet down. Casting and letting it fall a little, then doing a slow retrieve trying to keep it in that mid-water zone has been the best way to get bit. The 5/8 has the right combination of weight to be castable and a slow sink to be able to keep it in the zone longer. The only problem we have heard of is the hooks on the original 5/8 baits being too small to handle the bigger WSB, so to correct this problem this year we are releasing what we call the WSB Special. A 5/8 with the biggest strongest hook that you can pour on a 5/8 head. Problem solved. This bait will be only available in Red Crab and Mint. A lot of anglers like using the Red Crab in the morning and then switch to the Mint when the sun gets high and bright.
Santa Monica Bay
Most of the white sea bass reports we get from this area are from kayak fishermen. They are slow trolling the 1 and 1.5 oz Big Game HUB’S in Sardine Green, Mint and Chovy. There has been quite a few 40 to 50-pound WSB out of this area throughout the summer using this Technique.
We had a couple of reports of WSB from here this summer. Some were caught on the Red Crab 5/8 and also the Big Game size in Mint and Sardine Green while fishing the kelp lines around the island.
Newport to Oceanside Area
We received reports of both kayak and boat fisherman catching WSB along the kelp lines in this area this year. Most of the WSB in this area came on the 5/8 Red Crab. There were also a few reports of guys getting some while calico fishing with the 1 oz. Mint or Sardine Green.
San Diego – Home of Hookup Baits
We fish this area weekly year-round. Over the past few years, 5 WSB from 40 to 60 lbs have come aboard the HUB boat along the SD coast. 3 of those were caught on a 3 oz Mint XL HUB. The others came on the 5/8 in Sardine. We have also received many reports from sport boats and private boats of WSB catches while calico and sand bass fishing in this area with the HUB’S. These fish came off both deep structure and kelp line areas.
Two legal-size WSB came aboard the HUB Boat last year while fishing the islands for yellowtail and bass. Both were caught on the Mint color in the 5/8 and 1oz. size baits.
There was a good late summer WSB bite down here and we received lots of reports of anglers catching them on the Big Game Sardine, Mint, and Chovy baits. The Red Crab baits work very well down in this area for a variety and I imagine you can get a WSB using the red crab color in northern Baja as well.
Which Hookup Baits to use?
So, with all this data that the Hookup Baits crew receives from up-and-down our coast we have put this list together of the top WSB baits:
The new WSB special bait will be released at Fred Hall Long Beach this year. This bait is 4″ long, 5/8 oz. in size and will be available in Red Crab and Mint with 3X strength Owner hooks. This option gives anglers a bait that suspends well in the water column yet has the hook strength to hold any white sea bass.
The Big Game HUB’s are available in 1 and 1.5 oz. sizes as a 5″ bait. The Red Crab, Sardine, and Chovy seem to be the best for WSB.
Go Big or Go Home
Hookup Baits XL 3 oz. in Mint and Sardine are 8″ baits and made for when the fish are eating big baits.
So if you’re looking to get one of these good fighting, great eating, elusive “bucket list” fish that California anglers are privileged to have on our coast this season, make sure you have these baits in your arsenal to greatly improve your chances of success. Hope this helps, thanks for reading, tight lines, and good fishing!!!
This article will be published by Fish Taco Chronicles in their Fred Hall Show Magazine Spring 2020, Volume 25 – Number 1 edition, Southern CA Favorite Fishing Magazine.