The good news is that we’ve experienced yet another week of amazing tuna fishing. Although the fish bit better some days than others, anyone that found the right batch had a shot at a fish from 50 to 200-pounds, some within 10 miles of the point. The bad news is that along with the typical crowds weekend crowds, anglers are going to have to deal with some breezy conditions over the next few days.
The wind probably won’t be enough to put the fish down, but it will be enough to make them tough to spot and will make for a wet ride home if you run too far in the wrong direction. Speaking of directions, I’m sure the biggest question on everyone’s minds is which direction will be the right one to go come Saturday morning. Well, as someone who fished down there last weekend, I have only one piece of advice.
If you want to actually catch one or more of these tuna, you’re going to need to drive away from the fleet to do it.
This is easy enough to do if you pull up to a crowded spot, but it’s not so easy to do if the spot crowds up around you. Take for example the trip I took on Sunday with John and Travis Curry. Knowing that the fish had bit around the 302 the day before, we intentionally got a late start so that we could avoid being followed by a bunch of boats and headed south below the 425 to see if we could find some fish. As luck would have it, we found a school and hooked up immediately. A few more boats found us as we fought the fish, but it wasn’t too crowded. After we landed a 120-pounder, we were able to get on a few more schools, but eventually ended up with a couple of boats that were following us and running down every school we approached.
At that point, we waited until the other boats were stopped on the school and we hauled ass out of the area. It was tough to drive away from a spot that had just produced a hundred pound fish, but we weren’t going to catch anything with those other boats on us. We eventually found some more fish and caught a couple of yellowfin before boats got on us again and we left the fish and went and found some more. There are enough scattered fish around that leaving fish to find fish isn’t that big of a deal right now.
People have the tendency to follow boats around rather than looking for their own fish and the more boats there are in one spot, the better the odds that more boats will show up. A couple weeks ago, we found a spot of fish and had it to ourselves for an hour, then a couple boats found us. Once there were three boats grouped up in one area, every boat within glassing range came charging and before we knew it there were 30-plus boats on the fish. Trust me, you’re better off leaving and finding something else than trying to fight your way through that mess.
If you’re heading out on a sportboat to fish these tuna, I highly and I mean HIGHLY recommend shelling out the extra dough to charter a four or six pack boat. There just aren’t enough bites available for 30 to 40 guys on a sportboat to all get a shot at one and those that do get bit don’t stand a great chance of landing that fish. If you want to go out and give it a shot on a sportboat, the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing along with some of the overnight boats are fishing them, but be forewarned it’s a lot of driving around and waiting to get a one to two minute casting window on schools that aren’t biting 75% of the time you find them.
Finally, if you’re heading out on your own boat or on a sport or charter boat, please make sure your gear is up to the task. These fish are strong and heavy and you’ll need to push your tackle to the absolute limit if you’re going to catch one. The guys that are losing these fish after fighting them for 3 to 5 hours are doing so because the gear they’re using is not sufficient to get the fish to the boat. If you find yourself two hours into a tug of war without gaining any line, you need to pull harder and either break the fish off or land it. If you keep doing what you’re doing the tackle will eventually fail or the hook will pull.
So, there you have it. Using appropriate tackle, having a good game plan, being willing to leave fish once the crowd finds you, and having the courage to pull harder than you think you should are the keys to catching these fish.