Want to catch plenty of fish in a beautiful setting? Well try Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, CA . Halibut, corbina, bass, perch sharks and rays are all waiting to be caught off the sandy beaches and rocky jetties of the bay. No need for heavy tackle as 6-10 lb test line is all you need. Sit in a beach chair waiting for a big one to take your bait or drift near the docks from a float tube , kayak or even paddle board. This is a great way to introduce kids to the sport of fishing or just enjoy an early morning casting by yourself. Calm waters mean no sea sickness or getting soaked by crashing waves. So come on down to Long Beach and enjoy some Alamitos Bay fishing.
A standard 6 ft freshwater rod and reel with 6 lb test line is all you really need here. I even fish with 4 lb test which at times is the best way to get bit. The only problem with that is when a 30 lb bat ray takes your bait, your angling skills will be tested then if the ray doesn’t strip off all your line. When walking the sand or rocks and casting as you go, one simple “Trout” rod is enough. If you want to fish bait in one spot while relaxing, add a 10 lb outfit or 2. Use a sand spike to hold your rod and reel. Tackle for bait fishing would include a #4 hook Carolina rigged or a standard surf fish setup with a pyramid sinker. Again, use light line and small hooks in these calmer waters. Favorite lures would include twist tailed grubs attached to 1/16-1/8 lead heads. AA shrimp tail grubs, and Kalin grubs are good choices. Root beer and smelt colors work well. Just cast out and retrieve slowly, bouncing along the bottom like escaping crabs.
By far the number one bait in any bay is going to be ghost shrimp. Someone once asked, “what eats ghost shrimp?” I said whatever gets there first. The nearest place to get ghost shrimp is Big Fish in Seal Beach. They have the best selection of live baits in the area. They can also be caught using a suction pump. Go to the mud banks at low tide and look for mini volcanoes. That is where they live. Insert the pump tube over hole and suck them out. Blood worms, mussels and clams are great baits in the bay as well. Frozen anchovy and squid work well for the sharks and rays. Small hooks and light line is the key. Use just enough weight to cast. Bay fish do not like the resistance of heavier sinkers. If you are able to get live smelt or anchovies you may get a bite every time.
My favorite lure in the bay is a AA shrimp tail in black and white with an 1/8 oz round jig head. It mimics the small smelt that live in the bay and can be bounced along the bottom in a way that triggers strikes. Any Gulp Alive bait is good including blood worms, crabs, shrimp and jerkbaits. The blood worms and crabs can be fished with just a splitshot or Carolina rig. I like using small leadheads for the shrimp and jerkbait. Small Rapalas and crankbaits are good for bass and halibut. Fly fishing is very popular here and I have seen them catch quite a few small fish. Remember to fish near structures like docks, pylons, jetties and along drop-offs or weed lines.
Where to Fish
Try the sandy beaches from 55th Place through 69th Place. Remember, we are talking about the inside bay portion here. We will talk about the ocean stretch later. There is parking near the basketball courts, along Ocean Blvd and a parking lot at 72nd place. Bring quarters. They don’t take anything else and the parking patrol will write tickets. Personally I like to fish near the jetties near 69th place and 63rd place and 55th place is good as well. A good strategy is to walk and cast from one jetty to the other and back. Change lures/baits as you go until something works, then stick with it. Try fishing from the rocks located at the 72nd place parking lot. Walk carefully, but you can catch some bigger bass, halibut and sharks. Try a longer 7 ft pole and use 10 lb test line off the rocks.
When to Fish
One great thing about saltwater fishing is that tide movement is more important than being up at 4 a.m. Moving water caused by the changing tides trigger feeding patterns in the bay fish, so check out the Long Beach tide charts online when planning your trip. For shore fishing I like 2 hours before a low tide for the bay and 2 hours before a high tide for the surf. Of course on a warm summer day going early morning or late evening may be your only chance to have room to cast. Fishing is good in the bay year round but winter time when the storms and big surf are tearing up the beach the fish seem to head into the protection of the bay. Hardly any beachgoers will get in your way then either. In the spring the big halibut and bass tend to head back to the beach and follow the Grunion runs. Spotted bay bass, perch and turbot make the bay their permanent home.
Float Tubing, Kayaking, and Stand-Up Paddle Boards
A float tube, basically a U-shaped, canvas-covered inner tube that you sit in, is a great way to fish the bay. By using swim fins to propel yourself you are able to get out to the deeper structure like moorings and docks. All the docks in Alamitos Bay are privately owned and no one is allowed to fish from them. But you can float your tube over to the docks and pilings and drop your bait straight down. You can run out of ghost shrimp in a hurry from catching so many fish this way. One word of warning, the currents can get strong in places here and easily out pace how fast anyone can kick. Make sure to kick ashore when it feels like you are being pulled away. A float tube is a great investment to an angler. They are inexpensive, versatile fishing platforms that we will talk about in many future articles including the Sierras.
Plastic sit-on-top Kayaks are the next step up in portable fishing platforms. With the many available rack systems you don’t even need to own a truck anymore. The best part about fishing from a kayak in Alamitos Bay is the amount of water you can cover. Circling Naples Island and it’s hundreds of boat docks is nothing in one of these. Head out to the jetty opening on an incoming tide and get a free ride on the current back to your launch site. Drift the deeper sandy areas with a big plastic swimbait for the larger halibut or stray white sea bass. Fish the thousands of boat docks near the restaurants on Marina Drive. The range you gain from kayaks makes the extra cost worth it, though they are much more affordable than boats.
Stand-up paddle boards are super popular right now and I have seen more and more people fishing with them. Many manufacturers are even designing them for fishing and paddling. As long as you have great balance casting while standing up, you can have great advantages like vision and reach. They are lighter than kayaks to transport and are easily converted back to the fun toy they began as. If you already own a stand-up paddle board give it a shot at fishing in the bay where the calm flat waters will make for a fun day of fishing. Rental kayaks and paddle boards are available at the corner of Bayshore and Ocean.
So get out to Long Beach and try fishing the Alamitos Bay. You should have a great day of fishing and there are lots of good restaurants nearby including the new Ballast Point Brewery. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss our next article and please like us on Facebook.
“Anytime I can sneak in a moment to fish, I am a happy camper” ~ George Foreman, Heavyweight Champ