With seabass biting up north, yellows biting at multiple islands and bluefin tuna biting on our local banks in mid-May, describing this week’s fishing as “excellent” seems like a bit of an understatement. Sadly, by the time you read this on Friday, the wind will have been blowing for a solid 24 hours, with sustained 20 knots at the Channel Islands, San Clemente and Catalina. While the Coronados and the bluefin grounds are forecast to fare better, it’s still likely to be blowing 15+ knots down there all day Thursday and Friday. The even worse news, for everywhere north of San Clemente Island, the little weather window we’ve got on Saturday and the early part of Sunday is followed by several days of sustained 20 knot winds.
I didn’t go into a tremendous amount of detail with this week’s Navionics Chart because there’s a good chance that most of the stuff that was biting won’t be by this weekend and even if it is, most of the outer island areas will be inaccessible anyway, so let’s just take a high level overview of what’s been happening. The seabass bite at the Channel Islands changed a bit this week as there are fish being caught away from the squid beds. These fish are chasing red crab schools and are scattered around the backside of Santa Cruz Island. You’ll need to find the crab if you want to find the fish. Most bites are coming on red tube baits, creature baits and jigs cast out and allowed to sink through the water column in areas where there are seabass feeding on red crabs.
There has been steady yellowtail fishing for the boats fishing San Clemente Island this week and several boats had scores approaching 100 fish per day. There are several areas that are biting at the island but the boats have been focusing on the spots holding bigger fish. With an a 20-pound average and fish to 35-pounds being caught around heavy structure, you’re going to want to use as heavy a line as they’re willing to bite and be ready to pull hard if you want to land one. Looking at the forecast, the island likely won’t be fishable in the near future but let’s keep our fingers crossed that they scale it back.
The yellowtail fishing at the Coronado Islands was about as good as it gets the last few days with just about every boat fishing there reporting limits. Some of the 3/4-day boats limited out early enough to go look for bluefin offshore and found some of those close to the islands as well. From what it sounds like, once you find them the yellows will eat just about anything you want to throw at them so I recommend bringing your surface iron rod.
The bluefin got a little bit picky midweek but boats had good scores of fish from 30 to over 100-pounds earlier in the week. Most, if not all, of the 3/4-day boats bailed on the offshore zone Thursday to take advantage of the easy yellowtail fishing but I’m sure that weather permitting there will be overnight and 1 1/2-day trips targeting the tuna this weekend. If you’re going, make sure to bring a heavy flat fall set up because that’s what they’ve been catching most of their big fish on.
Finally, let’s take a look at some realistic fishing options for the weekend. The bass bite along the coast has been pretty good. Jimmy Decker and I fished a few hours on Saturday morning out of Newport and ended up with 40-50 mixed bass. The fish were actively chasing bait schools and responded well to crankbaits, hardbaits and swimbaits. The coastal waters are going to fare a lot better than the islands over the next couple days so I’d imagine the fishing should be okay, if not good, over the weekend. Whatever you decide to do, make sure and take a good look at the weather forecast before heading out.