Otto’s March Predictions for Santa Monica Bay

The weather is always interesting in March. You know the saying: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This month can bring changes for fishing and diving enthusiasts. Here are some possibilities based on my experience from past years:

 Lobster Diving  Lobsters move into shallower areas near the end of the season, and if the swells aren’t too large, visibility inshore will be workable. Still, you will probably be looking at 3 to 4 feet at best. This shouldn’t deter you. Just take your time and be methodical and you will have a good chance of scoring somewhere in these areas.

All the inshore rock rubble areas between Sunset Boulevard south to Santa Monica Canyon in depths ranging around 30 feet can produce well. I like to drop off on a hard bottom reading in that area and then work one way, north or south, zigzagging between the rock outcroppings looking for bugs. You can also drop off in about 25 feet outside the rock wall at the south edge of Topanga Canyon and weave the same pattern heading south. There are a couple of large rocks here, but the best producing areas are usually the smaller lower rocky strings that outcrop in the sand and run parallel to the beach throughout the area. This type of diving requires someone to follow you with the boat, but it allows you to cover a lot of ground.

Other possibilities include Moonshadows inside and the rocky scrabble areas outside of Topanga.

 Halibut  Halibut usually move into the Big Rock area mid-March. Whether you’re diving or fishing, the edges of the reefs from Las Tunas to Big Rock can produce some large flatties. Also, the mud bottom outside Moonshadows and south towards Big Rock in 50 to 60 feet of water can be productive. If the current and wind are right this is a great drift for fishing.

Calico and Sand Bass  If the water warms up, the bite will improve. My favorite spots this time of year include Deacons, the artificial reefs, the wreck of the Star of Scotland, and both Marina piles. Palos Verdes can be a good shot if you prefer Calicos over sand bass and you don’t mind the longer haul.

Sculpin  All the usual spots including most of the artificial reefs north of Marina Del Rey and the areas off Manhattan  Beach in 40 to 70 feet of water should continue to produce.

Rockfish  Rockfish season reopens in March so the short bank off Manhattan and the deeper reef outcroppings in 250 to 350 feet along the drop off further out are good bets. Consult a chart of the bay and investigate the areas along the inside edge of the plateau outside of where an arm of the submarine canyon curves and cuts to the south outside of El Segundo.

Other Possibilities  It’s not unusual for barracuda or yellowtail to show up in the bay during March. The best area is usually right outside of Marina Del Rey.

March is usually a good fishing month but just a fair diving month although we all know nothing is written in stone. If the weather improves and the water warms up, things can really get hot in the bay. It’s a good time to go to sea. We’ll hope for the best, and as always, we’ll take what we can get. Good luck on all of your diving and fishing adventures.

About Otto

Otto Gasser grew up mostly in southern California and obtained his Doctorate In Educational Psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He was hired as a professor to teach in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, where he initiated a multilevel Scuba training curriculum on campus. Dr. Gasser spent 37 years at Cal Poly before recently retiring. During that time, he certified over 2,000 students in Scuba. He served as the University’s Diving Safety Officer and represented the campus on the California State College and Universities Diving Safety Committee. Off campus, Dr. Gasser spent ten years on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Association, three of them as President. Over the years, he has volunteered time on a number of county Scuba training programs and has authored several articles about diver training. Otto is now an active recreational diver. In addition to the California coast, his more frequently visited dive locations include Hawaii’s Big Island, Indonesia, and the Caribbean islands.
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