By Jorge Campos
Orange County has some of the best saltwater angling on the West Coast.
Newport Harbor offers an array of options, from fishing on piers and docks to sportfishing by boat off the coast.
The harbor attracts and protects baitfish because it is a natural safe haven for smaller fish swimming away from larger predators. The reason why the coast has such good fishing is the rocks and kelp paddies providing great environments for fish to grow in the naturally cold waters of the Pacific Ocean along the West Coast.
A fisherman can expect to reel in spotted bay bass, sargo and croaker fish in the Back Bay of Newport Harbor.
Calico bass, perch, bat rays, and an occasional halibut bite towards the jetty and on the piers like Newport and Huntington Beach.
In deeper waters, sheephead along with red snapper and rockfish are commonly found.
“Anything you catch can be prepared for good eating, but in my opinion sheephead and halibut are the best tasting,” according to Sean Crawford, a Newport Harbor deckhand and former Santa Ana College student.
In the harbor and on most shore fishing piers and docks, anglers should be geared up with a medium action 6 to 8-foot rod, 8 to 20-pound test line, a quarter to one full ounce weight, and a selection from snell hooks to a No. 2 hook to cover a wide range of fish.
The stronger the line, the bigger the fish but the smaller amount of line available to cast out.
Bait more suitable for harbor and pier fishing include live anchovy, sardine and chopped frozen squid, as well as chopped frozen anchovy and fresh mussel.
If in doubt, ask a deckhand. Something will bite at almost any type of bait they suggest.