Yup, it’s been yet another week of people going out and getting shots at catching the fish of a lifetime and the fish are getting even bigger. Over the last couple weeks, hundred pounders have fallen out of the ranks of being considered “big” and at the pace we’re going, I wouldn’t be surprised if a fish over 300-pounds makes it to the scale in the next few days. With multiple 240-pound fish hitting the dock and unconfirmed reports of a 270-pound fish weighed, there have got to be bigger ones out there and sooner or later someone is going to land one.
As has been the case the fish are not biting wide open and seeing or hooking one is nowhere close to being a sure thing. But the chance is there and that’s enough to get a lot of guys out fishing. The problem with a lot of guys getting out fishing is that most of the areas holding these big fish are super crowded and if you’re fishing on the weekend, you can be guaranteed to have your good times ruined by some ding dong driving right through the school that you spent all day looking for.
My advice is to go on a Monday or Tuesday. I got invited to go on a trip Monday morning but had to pass because of other obligations. My friends who went ended up going 5 for 6 on the bluefin with three over 100 and the biggest going 165. Had they found that same school on Saturday or Sunday, they’d have been lucky to get a couple casts on it before the horde descended upon them and chopped the fish to pieces.
The good news for those of you who can only fish the weekend is that there are fish biting in areas that aren’t crowded. The bad news is that you need to sack up and leave the gang bang zone to go and find those areas.
Even if you don’t find the big bluefin when you venture off on your own, there’s enough scattered yellowfin, yellowtail and dorado around to make it interesting. So, just remember to bring a tank of bait and some lighter gear, along with lower expectations, if you’re heading out on the weekend. It’s going to take a lot of luck to find those trophy fish, but in my opinion it beats fighting the crowds for fish that aren’t going to bite well due to too much boat pressure.
If you don’t have your own boat and want a shot at one of these big bluefin, I recommend booking a guide or a four pack boat. Captain Brandon Hayward said that he’s got an open party trip on July 30th aboard the Maritime that is going to be big bluefin or bust, so I recommend visiting his website to book a spot. Speaking of Captain Hayward, his client Cathy Needleman landed what might be the biggest bluefin ever caught by a female angler in US waters, a 229-pound bruiser.
In other news, the inshore fishing along the coast and islands is pretty damned good too. Starting down south, the Coronado Islands are kicking out good scores of nice sized yellows for the 3/4-day boats out of San Diego. There fish are being caught at the islands proper and are biting flylined baits and surface iron. I fished the Coronados on Sunday during an SBS bass tournament and while we obviously weren’t targeting yellowtail, the bass fishing was excellent as well. We finished our day on the beach in Point Loma and the bass were biting there as well, despite off color water.
The bass bite continues strong on the beach all the way up to the Santa Monica Bay and the bass are mostly on the outside edges of the kelp and grouped up for spawning. This can make for some fast paced action once you find an aggregation of biting calicos. The sand bass are biting on structure spots along the coast, but for the fifth or sixth year in a row we haven’t been seeing any sign of spawners at the flats.
Finally, the yellowtail are biting at all of the islands, from Catalina to Santa Cruz. Captain Gerry Mahieu of All Harbors Unlimited Charters fished Catalina on Monday and reported getting a good shot at yellows to 20-pounds on the surface iron. The bite at San Clemente has been hit and miss due to the Navy closing down much of the island, but there are lots of fish there. Most of the yellows being caught at the Channel Islands are coming from Anacapa and the south end of Santa Cruz Island. These fish aren’t as big as the ones coming from the southern islands but are biting well for both sport boats and private boaters.