Bay to Bay Paddle and Fish
By John F. Pawlak

This journal entry is about a kayak-fishing trip one way from Mission Bay to San Diego Bay that two good friends and myself took on May 24th 2003.   Accompanying me for the day was Johnny Ceviche, a 52-year-old from La Mesa, CA whom engineers plant maintenance.  Johnny has been fishing ever since he was 5 years old and fishing from a kayak (Scupper Pro TW) now for three years.  Rick Dahl is a 43-year-old Manager of at a brokerage firm who lives in Tierrsanta, CA and has been fishing from a kayak (Cabo) now for 4 years.
We launched from the beach at Allenís kayak shop in Mission Bay at 5:30 AM and paddled out with the out going tide.   Once we were out of the bay we were greeted by (6) dolphins that had a school of bait surrounded and were leaping out of the water and splashing around.  The ocean was calm and there was no wind to speak of so we enjoyed a nice leisurely paddle through Ocean Beach.  Directly north of the OB fishing pier I caught (2) Barracuda while trolling a Rebel Fastrack.

We then enter into the Point Loma Kelp Beds.  I believe this is the biggest kelp forest in all of San Diego County. My estimate is that it is at least 5 miles long and at one point 1 mile wide.  The kelp forest wraps all the way around the point, stopping only where it reaches the main channel to the San Diego Bay.

Johnny and Rich found a school of mini macks that were holding tight to the out side edge of the kelp and caught some for bait.  They would spend the better part of the morning fish the out side of the kelp in hopes of catching a Yellow Tail or White Sea Bass with no luck except for one nice kelp bass that took one of Rickís 5Ē Spanish Mackerels.

I fished with plastics for bass.  Iím not a very consistent bass man, but today I was able to catch more than a few.  Started out working the outside of the forest, casting along the edge.  The bass that I caught this way were the classic checkerboard calicos.  About 9:00 a southwest wind picked up pretty good and so I paddled inside the kelp to fish in places where only a kayak can go.  I was searching out the house-sized openings that are completely surrounded by thick kelp. While casting into one such hole I noticed a flash just as I was ready to pull my lure out so I stopped my retrieve and allowed the bait to sink, then sure enough the biggest bass of the day hammered it. It was a 4-pound butterscotch colored kelp bass.  In fact all of the bass that I caught on the inside of the kelp had this same coloring.  The big bass wiggled free as I was holding it out at arms length and trying to take a picture of it, but thatís OK because I choose to release all of the big breeders and only keep one meals worth of the many 12 to 14 inch bass that were caught today
At a bout 11:00, Johnny and Rick gave up on the live bait and switched to plastics.  I thought that I had been doing pretty well until Johnny started catching a bass a cast. Finally I just put my gear away and watched him catch one fish after another in hopes of picking up a few of the masters tricks.

Today I saw no other kayak fishermen and the private boaters and one sport boat were confined to the outside of the kelp.  There is a lot of kelp here that is only fishable by kayak.

This is a really big area so Johnny and myself kept in contact with VHF radios.  Johnny also put up a flag so that he could be identified from a mile or two away, which worked out really good.

Around 1:30 we decided to head back in, staying off the main channel and helped along by the incoming tide. We landed at the Shelter Island boat launch ramp at 3:00 PM.  My Etex GPS recorded the total trip to be 18.2 miles.

If you live in or near San Diego and you want to try something different, especially on the holiday weekends when your favorite fishing spots will be crowed, than you might want to give the Point a try.  Many of the local kayak fishermen specialize in bass and this place is a bass fishermanís paradise.

If the paddle is to far for you than I think this place would be perfect for a short-range mother ship fishing trip.  If you can find someone with a 12 to 16 foot boat equipped with a bait tank.  A group could leave Shelter Island with a half a dozen kayaks in tow and head first to the bait barge for a scoop of anchovies, then motor to the inside of the kelp where the mother ship could safely anchor while the kayakers went fishing.

At the end of the day we were a bunch of tired, but happy wonderers.

Eagle Eye