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Tips for hunting in kelp beds

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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So.Cal. Fisher

New Member
Apr 16, 2005
Hi guys. I haven't been spearfishing for very long-about one year, and I love it! But up until now I've been sticking close to shore and the jetties. Where I would really like to hunt is in the many kelp beds that are just off shore from where I live. I just need some tips for hunting out there. Do I need a float?
Do I need a boat? I can swim to the beds, it's not very far(about a quarter mile). But I'm not very comfortable being that far out with dying fish strapped to my side. Are there any particular hazards I should be aware of?

Also, does any one know of a good website i can go to learn to set up my speargun with a float , etc.?

By the way, I will be fishing in the Sunset Cliffs and LaJolla area of San Diego.
You are in a great area to dive kelp beds from shore. Many large white sea bass are taken by divers swimming from shore or from a kayak down there.

You have two basic choices for rigging- either a reel or a float line. Either one should have at least 100 feet of line, even though the water may not be deep. A fish can go under kelp and then run horizontally and pull you under in just 25 feet of water if your line is not long enough.

If you use a float line, the best setup is to use a breakaway so that the shooting line and float line detach from the gun and you get to keep it no matter what. Diving in the kelp will prohibit use of a float other than some sort of egg float which simply serves as something to grab and hold on to if the fish takes all the line. A float large enough to fight a fish will tangle in the kelp and drive you nuts even if you stay on the surface, and when you go under kelp and come up on the other side it won't follow you.

You know, it just occurred to me that everything I've said is based on an assumption that you will want to shoot a big white sea bass. But of course if you just wanted to hunt calicos than a shooting line tied to your gun would suffice.

I better quit for now and go pick up my wife at the airport, but I'd be happy to help in any way I can. If you were willing to drive to San Clemente, I'd be happy to show you various rigging options.

These threads might be helpful:

[ame="http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?t=59484"]WHITE SEA BASS SoCaL[/ame]

[ame="http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?t=59039"]Float Line[/ame]

[ame="http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?t=58830"]How to rig Riffe breakaway system[/ame]
Last edited:
Thanks Bill. You really seem to know your stuff. Your advice on the floats makes sense. I guess i'm just worried that i'll shoot a fish and it will be much stronger than I expected and i'll lose my gun. :( And yes I would LOVE to land a nice fat Wht. sea bass. I've shot a few calico around the jetties, but they aren't the size I would like. They never are huh? :) I grew up hunting everything from squirrels to whitetail deer to turkeys, but spearfishing is the ultimate challenge. Do you know if Opaleye are good to eat? And if so, what is the size limit?
I've heard mixed reviews of Opaleye, but have never tried one myself. Some people point out that Opaleye line up behind the boat if you take a dump off the swimstep, but of course I wouldn't let that bother me. :)

I don't know if there is a size limit.
So.Cal. Fisher said:
Also, does any one know of a good website i can go to learn to set up my speargun with a float
Well charming!! Thats like going to see Giorgio Armani and asking him "Hey mate! dya know where I cant get some decent clothes?" rofl
Welcome to deeper blue So Cal :)
I am not trying to be smart but, If this was in Spearfishing it may get more replies.
Opaleye are strict herbivores. The usual bait for them is defrosted frozen peas. Their flesh is very sweet, so sweet, in fact that if I were to cook up a batch I'd have to drizzle lime juice over them to cut it back a bit. I have a very hard time believing what you were told as they are rock/reef dwellers according to all my books.
I know that they are supposed to be herbivores, but maybe its hard for them to tell what's coming when you take a dump on the swimstep, or maybe they are hoping you ate your vegetables last night. :)

I'm not sure what the significance of them being rock/reef dwellers is, but they seem to interpret that rather loosely. They are all over high up in the kelp beds. But of course kelp is attached to rocks, even if the rocks are 100 feet down.

In any event, if you like the taste and want to shoot some, almost nothing could be easier. They are very numerous and very tame.
Well, as herbivores maybe they're not smart enough to know they're supposed to live on the rocks? :D Anyway, "numerous and tame" sounds like a good start for us beginner types. Thanx for the headsup.
When I firtst started spearfishing I used to go to Mission jetty a lot because it was so convenient, but I noticed some decent sized Opaleyes that lived in the rocks of the jetty. I assume they were good sized though i'm not sure how big they actually get. It just didn't seem like much of a challange taking those fish. Thats why I wanted to learn the tricks of hunting the kelp beds.

Also, I was wondering if anyone has done any fishing out on the Cortez Bank?
Oldsarge said:
Opaleye are strict herbivores. The usual bait for them is defrosted frozen peas.

I'm not so sure about that. They could be omnivores. I've seen calicos eat kelp leaves and thought that was odd. I've shot calicos with kelp in their gut, but upon closer inspection I see the kelp they were ingesting had fish roe on it. So in lean times (or it could possibly be a preferred food) the calicos eat egg laden kelp leaves. The Opaleye could be eating the kelp for the same reason.
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