Captain Hook’s Gallery: Fishing in Rosarito
The Baja California peninsula, with its Mediterranean coastal climate and pristine beaches, could very well be one of the best values and most convenient options for north of the border residents looking for a high quality, low priced weekend getaway. Rosarito Beach, which is located less than 20 miles south of the San Ysidro crossing, boasts numerous shops and restaurants, as well as a great hotel and sportfishing pier.
Decades ago, Rosarito Beach was a popular surf fishing destination for many Southern California anglers, and those who diligently worked the shoreline could expect to catch a variety of species such as croaker, corbina, perch, sand bass, halibut and several types of rays and sand sharks.
Rosarito Beach was later targeted by the Spring Break crowd, and an increasing number of trendy bars and eateries began to pop up along Boulevard Benito Juarez, with local tavern owners profiting from the steady flow of weekend and holiday visitors. This was about the time that the vision of Rosarito as a worthwhile place to cast out a fishing line began to fade.
Fortunately for intrepid anglers, several years ago Hugo Torres, owner of the Rosarito Beach Hotel and former Mayor of Rosarito Beach, was finally able to realize his long-time dream of building a sportfishing pier near his property. The sprawling platform now stretches over a quarter of a mile out into the ocean, eventually coming to an end at an emergent cluster of large rocks.
This natural habitat helped to turn the area near the pier’s furthest extremity into an “all-you-can-eat” buffet for hungry halibut, bass, perch and other seasonal gamefish species. Fishing from the pier much closer to shore with light tackle for quality barred surfperch that are swimming barely beyond the inshore breakers can be extremely productive as well. Access to the pier is available to the general public for a small fee, and is free for hotel guests.
It is not uncommon to catch surfperch between 2 to 3 pounds from the pier near the churning surf within a few hundred feet of the beach. The most popular bait for barred surfperch is soft-shelled sand crabs, but fresh local mussels, cut bait, and small, plastic grubs in motor oil or red flake also work well. Perch fishing is usually best on an incoming tide, when they tend to feed inside the breaker zone.
Those who prefer fishing with bait should try attaching a #4 or #6 treble hook to the end of a 4 to 6 pound test, fluorocarbon leader about 20 inches in length. Tie a barrel swivel to the opposite end of the leader, then pass the line from your reel through a half to three quarter ounce egg sinker, and tie the line to the other eye of the swivel so that the sinker sits positioned above the leader. Use the same, basic Carolina-rig when working plastic grubs through the suds.
Further out on the structure, some of the most popular fish to target are the California halibut that cruise the sandy bottom near the pilings in an opportunistic effort to ambush a quick meal. Live bait is one of the most efficient methods for catching halibut, but it is not always available. Luckily, halibut will also readily attack 3 to 5 inch plastic swimbaits in colors like blue or green, which resemble small forage fish such as the smelt, sardines or anchovies. They will also inhale plastic grubs of a similar length, with the best colors generally being chartreuse, orange or green. Grubs in smoke or clear colors with high metal flake content are also effective.
Just off the end of the Rosarito Beach sportfishing pier, massive rocky outcroppings and adjacent patches of golden kelp are home to a variety of fish which will readily attack small pieces of cut squid, clams or baitfish.
Whether or not you happen to catch a few fish, the Rosarito Beach Hotel’s pier offers an invigoration opportunity to get a breath of fresh ocean air, a little exercise and a picturesque view of Rosarito Beach from a rare and unique vantage point. As time progresses, it’s a safe bet that this popular pier will continue to draw throngs of intrepid anglers and other visitors from San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties who are looking forward to enjoying a few relaxing days under the warm Baja sun.
Once they’ve arrived, visitors will also be delighted to discover that the legendary hotel’s sportfishing pier is flanked with the sort of quality entertainment, shopping, and upscale dining that have made Rosarito Beach such a popular destination for decades.
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