I love to go twilight fishing in saltwater. After working all day, it’s pretty cool to get on a big boat at 6:00 pm and fish until midnight. Twilight open party trips are a staple from Santa Monica to San Diego. Fees are much less than ¾ day trips and frequently crowds are smaller too. Local twilight trips primarily target sand bass. These fish will “stack” better than calico bass, often forming large, dense, schools of sandies spread out near the bottom.
The #1 preferred rig for fishing sandbass or calicos at night is the popular dropper loop set up. Use an Owner #1 flyliner hook, attached to the loop, about 18-24 inches above a 2-6 ounce torpedo sinker. Even though you will rarely fish at night in more than 60 feet of water, it is ripping currents that often challenge the twilight angler. You need to keep your bait close to the bottom.
You can fish strips of frozen squid, or occasionally small live sardines or squid. Better yet, try to find a healthy anchovy instead. The entire strike with nighttime bass might seem a little “mushy”. Wait it out! The next strike just might be a rod-bending “thunk” as the bass finally decides to eat the bait!
Occasionally, the bass will suspend far off the bottom. Here is when you catch them with soft plastic lures ranging from jerk shads to swim baits. Suspended bass are typically more aggressive and strike the lures hard. Don’t be surprised if you get a jolting strike just a few feet below the surface as you reel your lure in.
I also like to carry a small selection of light aluminum surface jigs with me on a twilight trip. Sometimes marauding schools of barracuda will move into the bass feeding area, especially about an hour before and an hour after sundown. Expect to get bit off at times winding in your surface “iron”. But so often, the jackpot fish for the night is that nice 6-10 pound ‘cuda that trumps the biggest calico or sand bass for that “j.p.” prize!
At times- rare as they might be- when wind and current conditions align perfectly, the sand bass and calicos and barries will stage an actual surface feeding bite. That’s right! Imagine it is 10:00 pm at night and the bass are boiling in a chum line of bait fifty yards behind the stern! It does happen!
Also while at Sport Chalet pick up an affordable Power Cap, designed perfectly for night fishing. You get amazing illumination, with batteries that last over 50 hours while you do your fishing and knot-tying remaining hands free.