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Event Article: Rockfishing in Central California

Central California Rockfishing: Locations, Tackle, and tips on how to catch (continued)

Lures: This is yet another section that can have its own chapter. There are many lures made for rockfishing that vary in size, color, and styles for vertical fishing, and then there are custom rigs that people like to come up with.



A shrimp fly can be made of many types of material, but most are very simple in design and still very effective


Let's begin with the basic, shrimp flies. These are very popular and one very effective lure in catching both rockfish sitting at the bottom or suspended. You can simply buy these pre-rigged or individually, and some anglers even spice these up with additional plastics such as tubes or teaser worms used for bass fishing.


Here's a Megabait Live Jig that has gone through a lot of bottom bouncing for rockcod


Irons, jigs, hex bars, whatever you want to call them, are a must have lure for rockfishing. These jigs are usually molded out of lead and come in many sizes, shape, and patterns. Some have a treble hook and some have a single hook, and stinger hooks can be added at the top for greater chances of hook up. Any of these metal jigs will catch rockfish but they all have different action when lured. Some have more action than others and those are the ones you want to have in your tackle box. Some of my favorites are the Megabait Live Jig, Shimano Butterfly jig, Sumo Irons, diamond jigs, and River2Sea Knife jigs and Sea Rock jigs.


A big Grass rockcod caught in shallow waters


Shrimp flies and jigs can and will catch big fish but for those anglers who are only targeting large rockcod and lingcod they would toss a soft plastic on a heavy lead-head/jighead. A lead jighead would be rigged with a large plastic tube bait, squid, grub, or a swimbait. Run these along the bottom and you'll be rewarded with a nice sized catch.


Jigs come in all colors and sizes. The shapes will determine the action of the lure


There are many lures you can buy to bottom fish but those anglers that like to play prefer customized lures and rigs to increase their catch ratio. Some anglers would use a metal jig at the bottom while a foot or two above they would add a shrimp fly or hoochie as a teaser, or to just target suspended fish at the same time bouncing the bottom with the iron to catch those bottom dwellers. Jigs can also be customized with different paint jobs, glow in the dark tape and also other reflective tapes cut and placed onto the lures. There are many lure choices today with every lure being effective, now all the angler has to do is choose which one matches their technique and produces the best results.


Shimano is designing a new rockcod fishing system call the Lucanus Jig System, employing a squid or bug-like jig shown above along with an introduction of a new rod and reel to match the game


Baits: Aside from working lures you can use live or frozen baits. Live or dead anchovies, frozen squid, and other local bait fish can be used to target rockcod. The traditional three way live bait leader used for halibut or striped bass fishing is the most popular setup which can be bought or custom made.


Rockfish find livebait such as these anchovies irresistible


When fishing with rookie fishermen I like to set them up on shrimp flies tipped with frozen squid. This will give them a lot of action even on slower days making the trip more fun and memorable.


Next Section: Must have gear and additional tips 










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