Winter Spotted Bay Bass Report

As far as Southern California fishing goes, January and February are the months to service gear, re-up on tackle and get ready for the upcoming season. However, for inshore fishing, these colder months can be a great time to explore the bays and find some stellar bites. Over the past week, I’ve fished both during the day and night across Mission and San Diego Bay to compile this winter spotted bay bass report. Here is what I found.

Night Bite

The night fishing for spotted bay bass was consistent and aggressive with some quality fish mixed in. I fished through an incoming tide that peaked around 9 PM. I stuck with the winter inshore mantra of “low and slow” and fished a variety of soft baits. Grubs, swimbaits, flukes, and some crustacean imitations found their way into my arsenal.

Winter spotted bay bass with swimbait

Throughout the night I experimented with a variety of different retrieves. I hopped and dragged baits like jigs, I steadied retrieved them, and threw in a couple of quick handle turns here and there to get a reaction bite. What ultimately got bit best was when the bait hit the bottom, I would do two to three quick handle turns to get it off the bottom, then hold my spool and let the bait pendulum back down. Almost all of my bites came on this swing down.

Winter spotted bay bass release

Between my fishing partner and I, we found two main baits that accounted for most of our fish. The one I was using was the Scented Curly Tail Grub from Z-man rigged on a 1/4 oz WARBAITS Swimbait head without a weed guard. Often when fishing for spotties with swimbaits or grubs, you can go through an entire pack of baits easily due to short bites. However, with the ElaZtech material from Z-Man, I was able to fish the same plastic the entire night.

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The other that was responsible for the largest of our fish that night was the Megabass Dark Sleeper.

megabass dark sleeper

This bait is a fantastic versatile soft bait for spotties. It can resemble both a baitfish and a crustacean. It is also naturally weedless. One of the best features about it is that when you deadstick it, due to its wide build, it will stay upright on the bottom.

Day Bite

When winter fishing during the day, there are two main options: follow the conventional low and slow approach or try to illicit a reaction bite. My buddies and I went the reaction bite route and spent the day throwing spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

The fish were fairly spread and were not related heavily to structure. Most of the fish we caught were on weed lines and flats. They were also primarily in the 10-15′ zone and did not seem to want to come too high out of this to eat our baits. We fished through the high tide and found most of the best bites came on the incoming tide.

Now can be a great time to head to your local bay and pull on some of the most fun inshore fish to target! Whether it is at night or during the day, rain or shine, by exploring a variety of different tackle options, you can fish for spotted bay bass whenever you want.

Ira was born and raised in Portland, Oregon where he first found his love of fishing with trout, salmon, and steelhead. Over the years he grew to target any species he could find in the Pacific Northwest including albacore, musky, and sturgeon. After graduating high school, Ira moved to San Diego to...