fishdopeA couple months ago, Jason Hayashi of BD Outdoors reached out and asked me if I wanted to do a review of Fish Dope.  If you aren’t familiar, Fish Dope is an online subscription service that gives you access to daily reports and charts that tell you everything from sea surface temperatures (SST), chlorophyll levels in the water, to simply where and what fish are biting.  The tag line of the site is “Catch more fish.  Burn less fuel.”  Clearly the service is aimed at the private boater going out on their own.

As you know, I primarily ride the open party boats.  I live in an apartment.  I drive a Lexus sedan.  It just isn’t practical at this point in time for me to own a boat.  That said, when I took on the assignment, it was August and I figured I’d have plenty of opportunities to “test” the service with any of the several people I know who do own a private boat.  Unfortunately, it’s October now and that private boater trip hasn’t happened.  You know what though?  I find myself using Fish Dope in ways that I didn’t anticipate, so here are…


3 Ways To Use Fish Dope As A Party Boat Angler

1. Bait Report


I get this on my phone/email/FB a lot, “Joe, I’m going to ride (name sportboat) tomorrow.  What tackle do I need?”  Personally, I just show up at a boat and I know that unless its something funky, I’m going to have my basic needs covered with a variety of hooks, sinkers, line etc. that are already in my bag.  I guess most folks aren’t that way?  Anyway, if you know what bait is going to be on the boat, you’re a long way towards knowing what tackle you’ll need to have.  Or if the bait is sketchy, you’ll know to bring some lures to augment the bait.

2. Fish Reports


If you look at all the fish reports, it will give you ideas of where you might want to ride.  The reports often say when the bite is occurring too, so you will know what length of trip to ride to maximize your chances.  Or if for example the bite is within a short morning window, you could save yourself some money and just ride the morning halfie.

Once you decide what boat you are going to ride, you can drill down to help you know what to expect.  Let’s say I was going to ride one of the boats hitting Cat.  If I read the above report, I’d know the following:

  • Yellowtail is the primary target with bass and bonito secondary.
  • The yellows and bones are keyed in on anchovies.  If I wanted to fish artificial, I’d want something with a small profile, that mimicked anchovies.
  • The yellows are holding anywhere from 15-35 fathoms (75-210 feet).  That’s pretty deep, so I’ll want to be prepared to fish with some weight…maybe a dropper loop, or perhaps a reverse dropper with something not super heavy in order to work the water column.  I’d probably have some yoyo jigs in the bag as well.

3. Forums


I’m not from Southern California.  I moved here from Seattle.  Although I spent a lot of time on the water back home, other than rockfishing, everything was different here.  Ironically, one of the reasons I started SoCal Salty was that when I wanted to learn about fishing here and would spend time on the old Bloody Decks forums (the precursor to what is now BD Outdoors), I found it intimidating and not very friendly.  I’d ask something like, “What’s the best bait for (name the fish)?”  Inevitably, I’d get the snarky response of “Soak squid.”  A post like the above would’ve certainly taken its share of sarcasm.  I haven’t been on the BD forums in years, but I don’t find that sort of vibe at Fish Dope.  The above question got a straight, friendly answer.

So there you have it…3 valuable ways to use Fish Dope without even tapping into the charts.  I still hope to get offshore this year to test the service.  Even if I don’t though, I still find it interesting to check out the charts.  Then I can sit in the wheelhouse and pretend I know something when talking to the real captains 😉  I also get to see a lot of pics that don’t make their way into my facebook feed.  You’ll have to judge for yourself if there is enough value in these things to justify the cost of the service, but there’s no question that there is a lot of value there.  Tight lines!





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