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This past July, I was seeking out a fishing experience near my home town of Long Beach, California. I was looking for something different and I was particularly interested in finding out what fishing was available in the Los Angeles Harbor area. I had previously read about a local chap, Mike Gardner (*), who specializes in light tackle saltwater fishing in the bays and harbors of Orange and Los Angeles counties. After talking to Gardner and getting particulars, a friend and I booked a day with him.
At 6 a.m., we met Gardner at a marina near the town of Huntington Beach and headed out in his 21-foot bass-type boat, which has a large outboard motor in the stern and a bass trolling motor in the bow. Within a few minutes, we were fishing in Anaheim Bay for halibut and saltwater bass. Success was immediate. Gardner fishes with light tackle in the six-pound range and uses either spinning reels or casting reels. We used a variety of the soft, rubber-type lures that are commonly used by freshwater bass fishermen. We cast into rocks, under docks and around other structures that protruded into the water. We caught and released numerous spotted sand bass and bay bass, as well as a few halibut, and kept a few fish for a fresh fish dinner.
During the 10-hour trip, we fished a 20-mile or so stretch of water as far north as Los Angeles Harbor, in the shadows of freighters and tankers, and around oilfields and other port activities. I had not fished in Los Angeles Harbor for many years and was impressed with its clarity and cleanliness. Local efforts to eliminate pollution have obviously been successful.
Overall, I would recommend this day-trip as a very worthwhile experience for local residents or visitors to the area who have a free day. Gardner fishes year-round and I would suggest giving him advance notice since he is fairly heavily booked and, as far as I can determine, is the only local guide offering shallow-water fishing for local species of fish. He charges $225 for one person, plus $50 for additional people, with a maximum of four people total. These prices include everything but food, beverages (no alcohol permitted) and your fishing license. A day on the water with Gardner is pleasurable, educational and should provide angling success. – David E. Combs.