This being my first trip to Mission Bay, and also my first time targeting Spotted Bay, Striped and Calico Bass, I had a lot to learn. The curve was not as steep as I thought it would be and I found you have to be able to adapt and learn as you fish in order to be successful.
The first morning in the bay, April 13th, I fished for six hours and didn’t catch fish until the fifth hour! I tried weighted lures, divers, jigs, and swim baits in combination with every color and method of retrieve I could think of. It was at that time I finally found the color, bait, and retrieve method that best worked to catch fish.
For me, the only thing I could catch fish on was a ribbed 3-4 inch white, white/blue, and clear/white/blue paddle tail swim baits with a 3/8-1/2 ounce silver or white jig head. I used medium action Bass rods with bait casting reels.
Remember, Mission Bay, at its deepest, is around 15 feet deep. There is eel grass and plant structure everywhere.
The technique that worked best for me was a long cast either into the weeds or into the sand where weed beds were close to. Once the swim bait hit the bottom, I would do a slow retrieve back to the kayak, giving it a small twitch or jerk one in a while to change up the action. If I felt kelp or seaweed I would give it a quick jerk clearing the weeds and keep fishing. Sometimes this different presentation resulted in a strike.
The last hour I fished, I caught nearly a dozen short Spotties. Nearly all were caught when I jerked the bait to clear the line, or when there was some kind of change in the presentation. Throughout my weekend in the bay, I learned this was the presentation that worked every single day.
Watching my fish finder, I soon learned that if I casted parallel to the weed line, I caught more Spotties, and even opened up my catch to Croakers and Halibut.
Fishing in this manner, I caught over 40 Spotties, multiple Croakers, and a legal Halibut throughout the weekend. I had the best days of fishing I have had in a long time. I can’t say it enough – catching these guys was a blast and the accidental catch of a Halibut and Croaker made it even better!
After fishing the Mission Bay Classic Kayak Tournament (see how I did here!) and talking to my fellow anglers, I learned the 147 anglers caught Spotties, Calicos and Halibut of all sizes, everywhere throughout the bay on multiple baits and lure types. So, if you are ever in the San Diego or Mission Bay area and want to do some fishing, check the local reports and definitely have some fun catching these fish.
Check out our video of my last morning of fishing (including that beautiful Halibut!) in Mission Bay here!