Catching corvina


May 10, 2001|By AL KALIN, Special to this newspaper

A fisherman showed up at our factory the other day with an orange and black Lunker Lure, (now called Swimmer), rigged on a 3/8-ounce short shank jig. He said Luckey Pugh had given it to him.

Luckey was one of the best- known fishing guides on the Salton Sea back in the 1980s and had told him, "That lure, with that lead head jig, and in that color, was all you needed to catch corvina." The fisherman didn't take the advice of the famous old guide and instead opted to purchase many dollars worth of another lure that won't work as well in the Salton Sea.

After many years of fishing for corvina, what follows is how I catch them. I am only going to talk about artificial lures. Live bait fishing is harder, more complicated and varied enough to take up a whole column.

A good corvina lure needs to have a tight and rapid vibration. In addition, the terminal tackle plays a large part in fishing success. For soft plastic baits, use the smallest lead head jig possible and still be able to cast. I use a 3/8-ounce jig.


The lightest line you can get away with works best. I use 8- to 12-pound test line, which allows the bait to sink and move much more naturally. Yes, a corvina may break your line now and then, but you will hook five times more fish than if you were using 20-pound test line. It is personally satisfying to know you took your time and finessed the fish to the net. Set your drag to release line at one-fourth the rated test of your fishing line.

If I am using soft plastic baits, I like to start out with a chartreuse 5-inch Lunker Grub rigged on a 1/4-ounce lead head jig or go to a 3/8-ounce jig if the current is fast or the wind is blowing.

If that's not working I'll switch to a 4-inch Swimmer in the orange/black back pattern or maybe a chartreuse/black back pattern. If the corvina are feeding on croaker I like to use a silver-colored bait like our "baby corvina" color or the pearl/green back combination.

If fish are large, a 6-inch Mogambo grub, rigged on a 1/2- ounce head, is my choice. Again, chartreuse, silver and pearl combinations work best.

Many times corvina strike as the lure is falling to the bottom, so after I cast, I keep my line tight as it sinks and watch for a telltale tic in the line. If I see the tic or the line moves sideways, I will rapidly reel up slack until by rod tip bends, then set the hook. If nothing hits as the bait falls, allow it to lie on the bottom for a few seconds then start retrieving it slowly back to the boat. A strike will feel like a tap-tap-tap. Continue reeling until your rod tip begins to load up and bend, then set the hook.

If you like hard baits, use ones that impart a tight vibration, which drive corvina crazy. These include the Bayou Boogie, the Rattle-Trap, plus discontinued lures such as the sinking Storm Thin-Fin, the old Heddon Sonic and Sonar and the Bomber Speed-Shad. The old Storm 5/8 ounce sinking Thin-Fin in the red and silver pattern has always been my favorite.

My favorite metal spoon is a 1/20- or 5/8-ounce silver or gold Krocodile. I cast it out, allow it to flutter to the bottom while watching for that telltale tic. If nothing hits, I will reel up a few feet and then stop to let it flutter back down. Most corvina hit as it is sinking. Sometimes corvina seem to strike just as well with a straight retrieve back after the Krocodile has touched bottom.

For vertical fishing, my choice is the 1/2- or 3/4-ounce Hopkins Jig in silver color.

Let it sink straight down. When it hits the bottom, reel up a few turns of the handle and raise the lure up and down with small pops in a yo-yo fashion. Again, the fish will usually hit as the lure sinks to the bottom. When you pop your rod, be ready for the corvina to be on.

In the hottest part of the summer, when big corvina are feeding on croakers, I will use a Hopkins Spoon to catch a croaker, then put my reel in free spool and wait for a big corvina to take the croaker.

You'll know the big corvina is stalking the croaker because the croaker will go nuts. When I feel this, I gently place my thumb on the spool. When the corvina hits, I allow him to run with the croaker. After a few yards he will stop to swallow his catch head first. Then slowly move off. This is when I set the hook, and not before.

Using these techniques, you will catch more corvina than most other fishermen.

Outdoor Tales writer Al Kalin can be reached on the Internet at

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