Recently, I had the opportunity to kayak fish Leffingwell Landing while participating in the Estero Kayak Challenge Fishing Tournament. I had a blast and fished a new place… which involved a lot of paddling, covering a lot of ground and catching a lot of fish and fish species. Always a win in my book!
Leffingwell offers easy entry with a roadside boat ramp for small boats only, and roadside parking. I almost drove my truck down the cement ramp to the sand, and offloaded my kayak 20 yards from the water. The bay protected itself, as it was a cove offering a point of land extending to the north.
Depending on what your fishing for, I fished water up to nearly half a mile out that offered bottom structure that fluctuated between 8-20’, with and without kelp. I caught Brown Rockfish, Tree Rockfish, Blue Rockfish and a few Cabezon throughout this area.
Following this zone to the north about a mile is a wash rock that offers a depth rise from about 35’ to 15’. Here, I caught a monster Brown Rockfish that spun my drag and bent my 7’ medium-heavy rod with 30 lb. braid with little effort. It ended up being a 18” fish and 3-4 lbs. I caught a load of Blue, Gopher, and Brown Rockfish here as well.
At one point I wandered straight out from Leffingwell Landing and slightly to the north, into about 100’ of water. Here I found an underwater pinnacle that rose from approximately 100’ to about 25’ of water. This pinnacle had multiple kelp beds on it and I could drift either side of the kelp bed and fish right over the drop. At this location, I could not keep the Blue Rockfish off of my line! I caught multiple fish above 16” and many in the 7-9” range. It started off fun, but after a few minutes, it became annoying because I could not even get my bait on the bottom without hooking into a rockfish.
At one point I hooked up a smaller rockfish on my 8 oz. lead head and dropped it down somewhere around the 35’ mark of this pinnacle. Within seconds I hooked something big! After fighting it to the side of the kayak, I saw a large Lingcod was mouthing my bait but was not hooked. I muscled it to the side of my kayak and used my gaff hook to snag it and pull it into my kayak. I was stoked! I used my gaffe, had it hooked, and the approximately 24” Lingcod lost its mind! Because it was basically hanging over both sides of my kayak and my grip was horrible, the fish fought me and slapped its way off of my hook back into the water. With a wave of its giant tail, it was gone… I may not have the trophy, but it was worth the fight!
During the tournament, I never traveled south of Leffingwell. This area was consistent with the north zone I previously discussed and was covered in kelp beds and a wash rock or two. Many people did fish this zone and I saw some large Lingcod, Cabezon, and Rockfish of varying species, including a Red Vermillion in the 20” range. I also saw a Halibut and 21” Sheepshead caught from that area.
The majority of the anglers in this tournament were fishing the same kind of gear. I was fishing a lead head jig ranging from 4-8 oz. with a 5-9” Big Hammer-type swim bait, and a shrimp fly on a dropper loop about 2’ above. I would tip both of these with a full-size, uncut frozen squid. Depending on the target species, some anglers used only iron jigs tipped with squid or anchovies, and others used double dropper loops with double shrimp flies/rubber crappie jigs/shrimp and squid with a weight on the bottom.
The bottom line is this place was a blast! I caught a lot of fish, and a wide variety of species. From what I caught and what I saw, your options are not limited here. The landing offers amazing entry and exit – if you pay attention to the weather and prepare your gear accordingly, the sky is the limit. If you are looking for a place south of Monterey that offers a solid Rock fishing experience, definitely put this place on your list.