Well, it’s finally here. That time of the year we all wait for as Southern California resident fishermen – the Locals Summer. The dorado have made their way in hoards into our local waters with the help of a warm water push from the south, and the tuna, both bluefin and yellowfin, have finally started to act right and begun to give us ample opportunity to catch them on casting gear as they begin to foam on the massive schools of anchovy that plague our inshore and offshore waters.

While fishing with live bait will always be a tried-and-true favorite technique for many fishermen across the country, nothing gets the blood pumping quite like rolling up to a spot of fish with your casting gear in hand ready for those visual white-water bites we’ve all come to love. As anglers, we strive to challenge ourselves on the water, and nothing is more rewarding than getting that aggressive drag-pulling strike as you work your lure through feeding fish.

Poppers, stickbaits, jerkbaits, and small coltsniper-style hardbaits have widely become the most utilized lures for targeting the wide range of inshore and offshore pelagic species that call Northern Baja and Southern California waters home. Every angler has their own personal preference and go-to lures for targeting feeding fish, but bar none, our favorite two techniques here at BD Outdoors would have to be fishing with poppers and stickbaits. They are extremely fun to fish because the bites are highly visual, something that all anglers look forward to on the water.

This kelp paddy dorado absolutely smoked the Wahoo UV Magnum Stick fished with a fast straight wind and pause retrieve

Last year, we highlighted the allure and effectiveness of targeting foaming tuna with the Rapala X-Rap Magnum Xplode. These bell-shaped poppers were deadly when targeting yellowfin and bluefin foamers. They also worked extremely well on our trips abroad to other warm water destinations for a myriad of inshore reef dwellers.

An international lure option since fall of 2021, Rapala released their new stickbait, the Rapala X-Rap Magnum Stick into the US market in the fall of 2022. We were extremely keen to get these baits on the water after seeing how productive they had been in Australia, and the results speak for themselves. From yellowfin and bluefin to dorado and yellowtail, all our local pelagics have been absolutely inhaling this new and innovative stickbait.

This schoolie sized Yellowfin Tuna had no problem going after and eating the Silver Blue Mackerel Mag Stick
A proper 90 pound class Bluefin that fell for the Blue Sardine casted into the middle of a foaming school of tuna

Three of our most productive color patterns throughout this season. From top to bottom: HD Silver Blue Mackerel, HD Blue Sardine, HD Wahoo UV. X-Rap Magnum Sticks are available in 12 different color patterns, so anglers will have no problem picking out a bait that best suits their fishery.

The X-Rap Mag Stick 17 comes in on the larger end of stickbaits at 6-3/4”, presenting a large profile for predatory fish to key in on. This has worked out perfectly for SoCal anglers, as for a large portion of our season, the forage in our waters has predominantly been large anchovy and sardine. 

The Mag Stick is a sinking swimbait that can be fished using a variety of methods, all of which can be effective depending on the behavior of the fish. We found that when approaching a school of extremely aggressive foaming tuna, casting into the foam and simply sinking out the lure, allowing it to flutter down through the school, elicited bites extremely well. When the fish weren’t feeding as aggressively, a long cast and big sweeps of the rod that caused the bait to dart back and forth were still able to trigger bites from lazy fish. As for yellowtail and dorado, a fast straight wind that causes the bait to make wide S-turns on the retrieve was a great way to elicit a bite.

We noticed a few other noteworthy features of this bait that we discovered throughout the season. The Mag Stick weighs 3-1/8 oz. and casts extremely well on both conventional and spinning gear. It is engineered with a heavy-duty through-wire construction, VMC Tin Finish 4X Inline Single Hooks, and a tremendously durable plastic body that holds up fish after fish. Lastly, built with scalloped internal reflectors, this lure puts out a bright, life-like flash in the water that we believe is key in attracting fish and evoking the bite.

For more information about Rapala and the new X-Rap Magnum Stick, visit their website and pick up some of these baits to have in your arsenal for your next fishing trip!