The big news this week is that the bluefin tuna have finally started to bite something other than just the kite again. The bite kicked off around the new moon when overnight boats found biting fish outside of San Clemente Island. The hook to land ratio the first couple days was pretty lousy due to anglers being ill-equipped for this grade of fish. In the days following that first flurry guys brought the heavy tackle and boats scored many fish over 100-pounds and several over 200.
The fish have been biting best early with 3:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. being the prime bite time. The majority of the fish are being caught on 250 gram Shimano Flat Fall jigs, rigged with 150# leader but some are being caught on mackerel, sardines and live squid fished with a torpedo sinker rubber banded to the line. With most of these bites coming in 250+ feet of water you’re going to need a large reel with at least 80-pound test but preferably 100# Oh and you’re going to want a two speed reel because these fish are going to be kicking your ass straight up and down for a good amount of the fight.
BD member Tunaslam fished the Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing on Tuesday and was lucky enough to land a 120-pound class fish. You can read his entire report here. According to private boater reports, there’s a huge volume of these fish off the backside of San Clemente Island but the bite zone is an absolute parking lot.
Once the morning bite ends most private boats are flying the kite in search of a bite. While fish are being caught like this, the guys who are fishing the crowded areas are chopping each other up so bad that they’re actually getting their kites tangled. If you’re heading out I advise you to do whatever you can to avoid the gang bang. If it was bad already on Wednesday I can’t imagine what that mess is going to look like this weekend.
As you can see in the pic, there is a ridge running from the very crowded 43 Fathom Spot up to the very crowded backside east end of San Clemente Island and if someone was willing to actually go look there’s a good chance they may find a few fish that they could have to themselves somewhere along that expanse.
Another option is to launch late and avoid the crowds like Jay Krist and Chris Lilis did on Wednesday. Jay and Chris have been on the fish consistently this season and caught their biggest fish to date, a 275-pounder, just last week. They headed back out this week and had a slow start, with lots of blow ups but no fish getting hooked. At 6:00 p.m. Chris was letting out the flyer in a fishy looking area when a big fish crashed on it while he was still letting out the line. The fish came tight and the battle was on. The fight continued into the dark but when the fish was brought boat side it was clearly bigger than anything they’d seen before. Weighing in at 358.90 pounds, the fish is the biggest bluefin caught in California in at over 30 years. These guys have been putting in some serious time and I’m stoked to see them catch it!