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Bluefin Take Center Stage

12963614_751619771640479_3482689117483932409_nI hate to say it, but this is going to be another one of those “good news / bad news” reports. The good news is that the big bluefin bit in earnest this week out of San Diego. The bad news is that it’s supposed to rain all weekend. Yeah, I know, it sucks!

Some more good news, or at least I’m hoping it will continue to be good news, is that this year’s storms haven’t had all that much of an impact on the fishing. So let’s just keep our fingers crossed that continues to be the case with this round of weather.

IMG_6222So, let’s talk tuna.

While there were a few fish caught out of Dana Point on Saturday and others seen and hooked near San Clemente Island, the bulk of the fish is still down in Mexican waters. Overnight boats out of San Diego and 1 1/2-day trips out of LA Landings have been making the run down to the 60-mile bank. While this area has produced the most consistent fishing, it hasn’t been producing the biggest fish.

Captain Eric Sauerwine of SauerFish Charters fished the area on Sunday and reported good fishing despite windy and rough conditions. His four anglers landed six fish to 25-pounds while long soaking sardines. With the tuna biting closer to home, the boat is now running 3/4-day trips and has April openings available if you’re looking to chase some tuna without the sport boat crowds.

IMG_6215Like last year, there’s quite a bit of fish tight to the beach and while the bite can be hit and miss, these schools have been kicking out the bigger fish. The 3/4-day boat San Diego out of Seaforth Landing has been seeing these fish all week but other than Saturday’s 23 fish score on the 50 to 70-pound tuna, the bite has been scratchy. After not landing any fish on Wednesday’s trip, the San Diego has gone back to fishing yellowtail until the bite turns back on.

IMG_6217There were plenty of private boaters fishing those bluefin schools this week and many of them reported catching limits. But with the current bluefin tuna limit being two per angler, I wouldn’t assume that catching limits equates to wide open fishing. All of the reports I’ve heard this week have been of fish being caught while throwing jigs at foamers of tuna.  Billy Keleman was one of the private boaters that got in on the action this week and his Tuesday morning trip resulted in a couple of jumbos.

Aside from bluefin tuna, the fishing everywhere else has been holding steady the last couple of weeks.

I fished San Clemente Island on Saturday for a good calico bite on the west end backside of the island. While there I saw quite a bit of smaller yellowtail, but didn’t target them because I was fishing a bass tournament. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker has been targeting those San Clemente yellows with good results the last few days. Along with they yellowtail they’ve been scoring good numbers of rockfish and a few bass. So if the weather ends up giving us a break this weekend, at trip to Clemente might be a good call.

12920474_1309098982450574_221375570934449798_nThe bass are also biting for private boaters fishing the coast. My friend Chris Lilis fished the beach on Wednesday and reported good fishing on a mix of calicos and sand bass. The half day boats in LA and Orange Counties are still targeting rockfish, but according to Captain Mitch Christensen of the Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing, they are spending time looking for yellows on most trips, so if those fish show up, they’ll be on them.

IMG_6214The 3/4-day boats are still fishing Catalina for good rockfishing and some small yellowtail. I fished the island on Sunday and caught lots of calicos, despite 20+ MPH winds, so I’d imagine the bass fishing at the island would be pretty good if we’d get a decent weather window.

Finally, the yellowtail bite at the Channel Islands has dried up for the third time in as many weeks. I have no idea where these fish are going when they’re leaving the bite zone, but they keep coming back, so maybe next time they’ll decide to stay and bite for a while.

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Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California and Mexican waters. Erik is also an active freelance writer and the author of the weekly column So Cal Scene, which BD publishes every Friday. In So Cal Scene, Erik keeps all of the BD readers up to date on what's biting in Southern California. Erik divides his fishing time on local boats, long-range trips and Mexico excursions. For the past eight years, Erik has been competing in the SWBA (Saltwater Bass Anglers) tournament series and has multiple tournament victories to his credit. His sponsors include Batson Enterprises / Rainshadow Rods, Robalo Boats, Tilly's Marine, Abu/Garcia, Penn Reels, Navionics, Raymarine, MC Swimbaits, Uni-Butter Fishing Scent and Bladerunner Tackle.