Dorado Bite is Hot
The big news this week is that things are changing on the offshore scene. There’s been an influx of smaller yellowfin, mixed with skipjack, into the waters around San Diego. These fish are scattered from Mexican waters up into Orange County and if you manage to get on the right bunch they’ll eat the paint off the boat. While most of these fish are small (under 10-pounds) there are some better ones in the mix.
The same areas that have been producing the hot tuna fishing have also been kicking out lots of dorado. The dorado have been averaging bigger sizes than the tuna and there are some jumbos in the mix as fish to almost 60-pounds have been landed. These fish are coming off kelp paddies and I’ve heard multiple reports this week of boats getting easy limits. This area has also produced a few short billed spearfish and there have been reports of wahoo seen but not caught.
With this being a holiday weekend, I can guarantee you the southern zone is going to be crowded. If you’re a private boater and are planning to fish down there, I’d recommend trying to stay off the beaten path. Let’s say you’re planning to launch out of Shelter Island and run to the 182. If you leave the bait barge and head straight there you’re going to be running over the same water that 100 other boats did to get there. Not only does this minimize your chances of finding some fish on the way there, it maximizes your chances of having other boats find you if you are lucky enough to stumble into something.
Instead, try running a random distance (between 2 and 5 miles) north or south of the harbor mouth before heading towards the bank. This will put you on a unique line to the spot and almost guarantees that you you’ll be driving through fresh water the entire way. The same can be done while running from bank to bank. Just drive a random distance away from the bank you’re on, then make a hard left or right and head for the next bank.
While not producing nearly as many fish, the waters from Dana Point to above Santa Barbara Island have been kicking out some bigger fish. The most consistent action has been up near Santa Barbara Island where sport boats have been fishing bluefin and yellowtail from the anchor. The yellows in this zone have been in the 20-30-pound class and the bluefin have all been 40-50-pounds.
This type of fishing isn’t well suited to private boaters as it requires anchoring in very deep water and having the bait capacity to attract the fish to the boat. So, rather than waste time fighting over the sport boats scraps, I’d recommend looking for small spots of fish in the triangle formed by the west end of San Clemente, the west end of Catalina and Santa Barbara Island. While you’re doing that you may want to drag a marlin jig if you’re so inclined as the bite’s been pretty good up that way lately.
While I haven’t heard of anyone fishing Cortes or Tanner Banks lately, I’d imagine that the bigger bluefin are going to SHOW THERE SOON.
The offshore species have been biting on the inshore scene lately as well. Earlier this week kayaker Kevin Nakada caught a bluefin tuna while fishing yellows off La Jolla. In Long Beach, the half day boat Southern Cal went one for five on bigger dorado while fishing yellows on the Horseshoe Kelp. And on Saturday my friend John Curry stopped on a school of bonito just three miles off the beach in Dana Point that resulted in a double hook up on 20 pound class yellowfin.
Brandon Hayward of One Man Charters reported that he covered a lot of water this week and caught fish everywhere. “Some days I fished North County yellowtail, other days bluefin out west, and, most recently, yellowfin tuna both “far” (30 miles) and near (9.8 miles)”.
“If I had my way I’d just fish bluefin with the kite and the long soak baits from now until my offshore season ends. But wide-open yellowfin has been the best bet from a charter perspective, so that’s what I have done with most of my groups. While kelp paddies and birds have led the way to plenty of fish, the majority of the ripper yellowfin stops I have had this year have come off meter marks–often just a single fish or two–or puddlers or shiners or flat spots, often around hammerhead sharks, when we have nice weather”.
Hayward only has two trips open in September, both of which are unique. One is a 3 P.M departure offshore tuna/white seabass combo trip that will take advantage of the new moon’s tides on September 14. The other is his last open party white seabass trip of the season on September 30. Hayward has tallied 129 white seabass for his clients this season, so if you’ve been wanting a shot at a big seabass I would jump on one of these openings.
Finally, the yellowtail bite remains good all along the coast from San Diego to Ventura. These fish are on the same program they’ve been on for over a month, so if you’re unsure of where to go I recommend reading reports on our message boards or checking out Fishdope. The yellowtail are also biting at all of the islands, but Catalina has been the best bet for bigger fish.
Wherever you fish this weekend, remember to bring lots of patience and a good sense of humor. It’s Labor Day weekend and I can guarantee you that the roads will be crowded, the launch ramps busy, the bait lines horrible and the hot fishing areas a gang bang. Just try and take it all in stride and don’t let the crowds detract from a fun day on the water.