How to Catch Rockfish From Shore | Tips and Techniques by Bay Area Fisherman, Matts Withans (Fisherman’s Life)

Rock fishing. From shore. It’s one of the most entertaining forms of fishing to be experienced on the West Coast.  The treacherous hikes can lead you to the most beautiful and most secluded areas you’ve ever seen in your life.

To get started, it’s always important to make sure you’re not fishing in a marine protected area. Check the Department of Fish and Game website and make sure you’re clear before proceeding. Next, you want to find the most rocky location possible that is accessible. The more jagged the rocks the better and the farther they extended and emerge in the water the more likely it will be inhabited by fish. The next most important thing is to make sure the wind is low and the swells are calm. Try to avoid going out if the wind is higher than 15 miles per hour and the swells are more than 4 feet.

Matts Withans, Fisherman’s Life shares tips on Rockfishing

A seven to eight and a half foot rod is ideal for fishing from the rocks. It should have enough backbone that once you hook a fish, with a drag set tight, the fish should not be able to take a dive back into a hole. 30-40 lb braid is the perfect strength for shore rock fishing. The reel should be comparable to a Shimano Spheros SW5000.

The simplest way to start fishing is with a high low rig, 3 to 6 oz coin weight, and size 1 to 2/0 hooks. The leader should be minimum 25 pound test in order to pull weights and hooks out of rocks and seaweed if snagged.  Squid, anchovy and shrimp all work well as frozen baits. Cast into the deepest calmest spot and don’t move the weight for 10 minutes.  The more the weight moves the more likely it will find its way into a crevice and get snagged.  Keep your drag set tight almost to the maximum. If you get bit set the hook and reel in fast holding your rod tip high to avoid snags. If 10 minutes pass and you want to check your bait, reel in fast keeping your rod tip high so as to avoid as much structure as possible.  If the water is very calm, it is possible to fish with a 1 or 2 oz weight, fishing as vertical as possible to reduce snags as well.

Always bring several extra sets of hooks, leaders, and weights. Losing tackle from snags is inevitable when rock fishing.

“Different days and different conditions all contribute to different results.”

Matts Withans, Fisherman’s Life

If using swimbaits, the calmest conditions are always most ideal. 3/4 oz jig heads seem to be a good starting point. If the swim bait is heavy, dropping down to a 1/2 ounce jig heads will be plenty. If the current is strong, or the winds are high and the water is deep, it may be beneficial to use 1 oz to 1 1/2 oz jig heads in order to keep tension through your lure, line and to your rod, feeling for structure and bites.

Once you cast out, let your swimbait drop freely to the ocean floor while keeping slight tension in your line. Once you feel your jig head hit the bottom, give it a quick pop up and start a slow steady retrieve. Be extra careful to avoid dragging the bottom or risk a high snag percentage. Slowly and steadily retrieve for five seconds, and then let the swimbait drop to the bottom again. Repeat and cast around exploring different waters. Often times a fish will bite the swimbait and hold it in its mouth for several seconds. Resist the urge to set the hook immediately. Feel some weight and resistance after the initial bite, reel down and set the hook hard. You’ve got a Lingcod, Rockfish or Cabazon.

“The most important thing is to get on the water, gain some experience and enjoy yourself.”

Matts Withans, Fisherman’s Life
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A fisherman could be casting in the same spot for hours without a single bite, then all of a sudden get four hits in a row.  Different days and different conditions all contribute to different results. The most important thing is to get on the water, gain some experience and enjoy yourself.  Good luck fishing, wishing you the best of luck. I’ll catch you on the rocks!

About the Author:
Matts Withans is better known as the YouTube personality, Fisherman’s Life.
Visit his You Tube Channel to watch some very informational videos about fishing!

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