Truth be told, I love fishing Newport Harbor and thought I would share some tips.
Fish is the last protein we hunt, and we can have lots of fun doing it with kids, family, friends and out-of-town guests.
“A fisherman can recognize another fisherman from afar,” goes a Russian proverb made famous by the character Gordon Gecko in the movie “Wall Street.” As in the green and sustainable world where the quote applies, like calls to like. Once you gain the trust of an angler, you learn almost as much about them and ways to fish as does a spouse. Anglers, like green buddies, are eager to transfer knowledge gained from a lifetime of passion.
Here are some options for fishing Newport Harbor.
First of all, this is California, so if you are 16 or older, you have to have a $43.46 license, available online or at any of the locations discussed below.
Now, you can go to Walmart and gear up, but for about the same price, you can obtain local fishing knowledge and insights at Grant Boys or Anglers Center up off Newport Boulevard, or Newport Landing and Davey’s Locker on the Peninsula.
How do you know what to do when you do not know what to do? Find an expert you can trust. For fishing, you gotta go see Doug. Doug “Skiffman” Turin has been behind the counter at Davey’s Locker, just under the Pavilion, for 30 years dispensing advice and renting skiffs.
Doug provided me a harbor map on one side and an overview of the types of fish with size and limit information. If you rent a skiff, look for structure. Structure provides safety and shade. The little fish hide close, the bigger fish hunt the little fish and bigger fish hunt them in the food chain my kids are learning in school. Doug will point out places like along the harbor entrance, Corona del Mar side, down to the Harbor Master and Coast Guard docks. If you smile and say please, I bet he tells you a couple other special places.
A half-day rental (5 hours) will run $85 and full days (6 a.m. to 5 p.m.) runs $115, including frozen bait. Live bait tanks are on the skiff. If anyone rents a Duffy, $85 an hour, and goes “green” fishing, email me, that is news.
Doug took the map and pointed to some good spots. The piers are good, some room to fish if you want to get ocean side. The public docks are good except when the intended users (i.e. boats) come in or they get crowded with other anglers. M Street Dock is a good spot to capture fish coming into the harbor. I like to go by the Elks, tucked under the bridge from PCH onto the Peninsula. Perhaps you have a friend who will allow you to fish off the back of their boat at the dock?
Doug can sell or rent you gear. The most likely fish to catch are bass, halibut, yellowfin croaker, white sea bass (there is a nursery in the harbor, watch size limits), sharks and rays. Me, I would love to hook a spotted bay bass (good size and good fight on light tackle) or halibut (yes, you can eat ’em). Bat rays are a great fight and will take lots of line, with the larger ones at 200 pounds.
The old timers will be aware of the tides, water temp, water color, and the moon and will be watching the birds. Doug shares that newcomers should focus on tides, as the fish like to eat when there is movement.
Kayak fishing tours are available at NewportHorborKayakFishing.com, or go to Paddle Power at 15th street and rent your own. Yes, you can fly fish the harbor with OCFlyFishing.com.
My best harbor fish story came as I was teaching my youngest girl to cast. I helped her for the first couple, then came her big chance to cast solo. “Don’t forget to let go with your finger,” the finger holding back the line. Her first attempt went sideways as her finger released too soon. A quick retrieve and she was ready.
“Come on Kate, big cast, let go the finger and point it at your target!”
With a great heave, Kate flicked the rod and not only let go the finger holding the line, but every other finger. Her effort sent the gear flying and left her teetering precipitously over the water. I had a choice to make: Save my expensive rod and real, or save my kid.
Happy to report that after another 30 minutes of fishing, we proudly caught a 6-foot fishing rod, no catch and release. Memory for a lifetime.
Comment online at newportindy.com with your fish stories. Send green thoughts to [email protected]