Opaleye (Girella nigricans) are species of fish that are great targets for beginner anglers and even those who want an introduction to spearfishing. Considered baitfish, they don’t require special fishing gear to catch. In fact, if you move slowly while you’re in shallow water, they’ll swim up towards you. That’s one of the opaleye fishing tips you’ll get in this article!
How to Catch Opaleye
Although not the best choice for those who want a challenging, hard-hitting fish at the end of the line, it’s excellent if you simply want a relaxing time outdoors.
Here are some fishing tips and opaleye fish facts we’re sure you’ll find interesting:
Fish Kelp Beds and Rocky Areas
Opaleye fish are usually at great depths in the ocean, specifically in the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Islands. The fish prefer temperate waters of the ocean, and tropical waters, particularly between water beds.
You’ll have greater success landing them when you fish rocky areas, tide pools, and kelp beds. An adult opaleye fish prefers a rocky area abundant with algae. As for the juvenile ones, they like staying close to the surface of the water and they’ll move to deeper depths as they mature.
Young and adult opaleye survive water temperatures of 46 F or 7.78 C; however, they are most comfortable in warmer temperatures of 95 F or 35 C. If you’re in the United States, you’ll be happy to know southern California has a healthy population of opaleye.
Use Proven and Tested Baits
Primarily herbivores, opaleye fish feed on kelp, seaweed, and algae. But, they’re also known to consume worms and crustaceans that are attached to aquatic plants.
The blue-eyed green opaleye isn’t considered a poisonous fish and they’re served as delicacies around the globe. But, catching opaleye is usually to use the fish as bait instead of fishing for their meat.
Moss and frozen peas are some of the best baits you can use when you fish for opaleye. As the perch-like fish are herbivores, they’re not violent in nature. Still, it is best to be extra careful when you’re handling opaleye as their flapping fins are sharp enough to injure someone.
Get Good at Spotting Kelp Beds
This is one of the most important opaleye fishing tips you should remember as kelp beds are where you’re most likely to hook the fish.
If you don’t know how to spot a kelp bed or paddy from afar, you need someone in the flybridge with gyro-stabilized binoculars.
Look out for the most obvious signs of the presence of kelp beds such as birds looking like they’re walking on the surface of the water, birds circling around the area, visible kelp beds on the water surface, fish boiling, and changes in the color of the water.
Don’t Drive Your Boat Too Fast
This is also one of the most crucial among all tips you can get as the fish can get spooked by the sound of your boat’s engine. It’s good practice to ensure that you’re just drifting towards a kelp paddy.
Don’t drive any faster than 12 to 15 mph. If you’ll be trolling, don’t go beyond 8 mph. Additionally, you’ll have a better experience targeting opaleye and other fish if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses as a pair can help you see fish better.
If you’ll be using opaleye as bait, circle a paddy in stealth mode. This is especially if you see fish swimming around and birds on top of a paddy. Slowly motor upwind and position your boat to drift transom-first.
There will be a lot of game fish trying to have their lunch around the kelp bed. The idea would be for you to cast the bait next to a paddy and not in it.
Make sure your reel is in free-spool and you have enough thumb pressure so you can prevent an overrun. By the time you feel your bait is getting picked by a fish, wait for three seconds before you set the hook.
Choose Your Weapon
The fun begins as soon as you spot a kelp paddy. There are various ways for you to fish a paddy for opaleye.
One of the tips you should remember is when you’ll be trolling, pull your bait or lure past a paddy as it will draw a strike. A common method is drifting by a kelp bed with a 15-lb. conventional outfit.
Size 6 hooks or smaller are great choices for catching opaleye. A light line should be used. It’s difficult to catch an older opaleye, but chum with peas will allow you to attract bigger ones.
Don’t Give Up Too Easily
An article on opaleye fishing tips won’t be complete without a reminder that you shouldn’t make the most common mistake of anglers: giving up too soon. This is critical if you’re on top of a potentially promising paddy.
What most anglers do is soak a couple of opaleye baits and then move on regardless of whether or not there are great signs. It’s always best to work a paddy really hard. Before you move to another location, try everything that’s in your arsenal first.
If you get lucky, you’ll hook even more exciting species other than an opaleye! Push through as there’s a “dream paddy” that’s over the horizon, waiting for you to fish on it.
Aside from the aforementioned opaleye fishing tips, it’s also crucial that you observe fishing etiquette, especially if you’ll fish on kelp beds. If there’s already a boat fishing a paddy, be polite by asking if it’s alright if you join them.
If not, you can be sure there’s another paddy just close by. You can also troll the paddy’s outskirts and then wait for the other boat to finish.
Most boats won’t stay too long when they don’t get an immediate strike. Remember to be patient and enjoy your time in the great outdoors.