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California Ocean Fishing – All About Barracuda
Pacific Barracuda (Sphyraena argentea), now the most common large predatory fish in southern California, is a success story in conservation efforts. Aside from banning gillnets, the only effort to bring the Barracuda back to previous common numbers was the imposition of a 28″ minimum size limit on these toothy game fish. This allowed the almost all barracudas breed.They reach up to 4 feet long but are usually under 3 feet.A 4 foot will only weigh about 20 pounds because the fish is so long and thin.Most keepers are in the 6 to 10 pound class.
Barracudas are found throughout Southern California and range from surface to deep water. Although their main haunt is the fringes of kelp beds where they stalk unsuspecting baitfish and ambush them as they stray from cover, they often scan coastal areas for schools of fish. bait. The fertile plains where sandbars breed attract many small baitfish and of course, where there is prey, predators will not be hard to find.
Although the (large) Atlantic barracuda can sometimes be dangerous, the Pacific barracuda is completely harmless in the water. They are not a threat due to their small size and habit of only hitting what they can eat whole. However, some caution when handling a landed fish is required. These fish are strong and have long rows of sharp teeth. Many anglers have needed band-aids when they carelessly caught a fish that fell onto the deck. The best way to grab a barracuda is to grab it just behind its head, slip your fingers under the gill plates, and hold its neck. They can be quite squishy and difficult to hold. Some anglers use a short hand gaff consisting of a barbless double hook attached to a 12″ piece of 1″ diameter hardwood dowel. This is especially effective for those of us with “desk hands”.
Catch the barracuda
Successful Barracuda Anglers Barracuda are primarily a summer fish, but lately they have been almost a year-round proposition. In early spring, they ascend from their deep water dens to areas near the shore. Fishing is irregular in February, March and April. In May becomes consistent and usually bears at least until September or October.
Barracudas are easily caught on bone jigs or bait. They will also strike flies and top water plugs, but only when they burst to the surface in midsummer near kelp beds or when you catch a school, out in the open, chasing a ball of water. ‘bait. Favorite jigs are blue and white, purple and white and an old favorite of mine green and black – especially for cloudy days. You can also catch them at night when they seem to prefer shiny chrome type jigs. If there are short fish, later in the season, single hook jigs are preferred. Often chewing on a treble hook will cause real damage to the fish’s mouth. It is a shame to reject a fish after mutilating its mouth and marking it for sure. Personally, I only use single hooks on all my Barracuda jigs.
Streamer flies in blue and white to simulate anchovies or green and white to simulate sardines will be the best bet for fly anglers. You will probably go through a lot of flies because when these fish strike they strike HARD and are used to killing their prey instantly with their crushing jaws. Their fight is vigorous and strong, making sharp turns, shaking their heads and generally giving the light angler all they can handle. An eight weight rod is the minimum and a ten weight rod is best with a shot head and sinking line.
Barracuda will also take the bait. Live anchovies or sardines lined up near the kelp or sent out with a Carolina rig with a sliding sinker, are the hot ticket. Be careful though, their teeth are sharp and will easily saw through a mono leader. Some anglers use short leaders. This will result in fewer strikes but far fewer losses.
Preparing the barracuda
Barracudas are almost always filleted by anglers on party boats. There is more to the fish though, so I usually have them gutted and plugged into the boat, then take my time at home to cook them. I often scale and slice them at home, then cut the long, lean slices into portion-sized pieces with the skin on one side – perfect for barbecuing or smoking. the Kama (necklace) is also a great cut of meat, so I save those as well. If you are lucky enough to get Barracuda eggs from females early in the season, go for it. It’s excellent!
Barracudas are also excellent table dishes. They have a strong fishy flavor like salmon or tuna, so they may not be for everyone, but if you like fish, you’ll love barracuda. Due to their high oil content, they are also excellent to eat smoked. Barracudas are best grilled, baked, poached, sautéed or broiled. Frying is not recommended because of the oil. Eggs are delicious when roasted and eaten with rice, or when simmered in soy sauce and sake (nitsuke.) Collars are best just salted and grilled.
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