The fish chatter lately has been dominated primarily by the amazing bluefin bite. With good reason, what we are seeing right now is historic. All these boats on the anchor by San Clemente knocking down trophy bluefin. We likely won’t see this happen again for a decade or more. Recent reports show that bite might be moving north, but the opportunity is still there.
While that bluefin bite has been going on for awhile now, the “story of the week” is how the yellowfin are biting for the local boats in San Diego. The San Diego had a big hit on Wednesday, 133 yellowfin for 42 anglers!
Lost amidst the tuna fervor has been the steady yellowtail bite going on in the 805. It’s not so much the quantity of fish being caught…20-30+ per ride is a good day, but the quality has been outstanding. Fish approaching (and occasionally exceeding) the 40-pound mark are around. With the upcoming week heading into a full moon phase, I really like the window of opportunity to target these fish for the week ahead.
To get in on this bite, you want to look at primarily the 3/4-Day or Full Day boats that are fishing the two closest Channel Islands – Anacapa and Santa Cruz.
One of the primary boats catching these fish is the Island Spirit out of Ventura Sportfishing. Capt. Jeff Bunde has been a consistent winner on the jacks. I caught up with his deckhands Jake Holder and Sonny Haendiges to get the skinny on what’s working now to catch these bruiser yellows.
They told me this is a shallow water bite, only 80-feet or so. The combination of bigger fish and shallow water necessitates heavy string and a tight drag. The consequence of not being properly geared is loss of fish due to being broken off on the rocky structure below.
They’re recommending going a minimum of 40#, and don’t be afraid to fish bigger. You definitely want to terminate with fluorocarbon as well.
The fish want the big bait, the largest you can find in the handwell (or get your favorite deckie to serve one up for you). That usually means you’ll be fishing a big mack. Go with a big hook (5/0 ringed Owner). They told me a lot of the time, the bite is coming on the slow retrieve off a long soak, so hook your big greenie in the nose or back area in front of the dorsal fin.
You’re fishing the big string, so fish a heavier drag than you may be used to. My buddy John Anjard calls it “Rice Krispies.” When you’re testing the drag, wrap the mono 3x around your hand and pull. The line shouldn’t just come out smooth, but rather crackle (Rice Krispies) when you pull it out. Remember, the goal is to get them turned toward the boat before they can break you off.
I hope you catch a personal best trophy yellowtail.
Good luck if you get out there.