Well, if you read last week’s column you know that I had high hopes for Saturday’s full moon. If you kept tabs on the reports this week, you also know that it ended up being a bit of a non-event when it came to the yellowtail bite. I’m not sure if this cycle’s lack luster performance was a stand-alone event or the beginning of a change in the bite pattern, but I do know that we’ll find out in a couple weeks during the new moon phase.
Despite the fact that the has been blowing off and on for the last week, the fish are still biting.
Better yet, the stormy weather forecast for Friday should be all but gone on Saturday morning, so there’s no reason that the fish shouldn’t be biting this weekend.
Before I get into what’s happening, I want to put out a warning to my readers who have their own boats. The weather forecasts change rapidly at this time of year and the marine weather has been repeatedly under-forecast in recent weeks. So if you’re heading out, check the weather immediately prior to departure and if it is windier than forecast when you get out, always err on the side of caution when deciding on whether or not to make a long run. There’s nothing worse that getting to an island that’s too blown out to fish and then having to take it on the chin for 50+ miles on the way home.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at what’s happening. Starting to the north, boats out of Santa Barbara and Ventura Landings are running rockfish trips daily and are having good success. It’s been pretty windy at the outer Channel Islands lately, so overnight boats are making game time decisions on where to fish depending on weather. If you were planning an overnight or full day trip this weekend, I’d bring gear to fish both shallow and deep-water rockfish. If the boats can make it to Santa Rosa or San Miguel, you’re going to be fishing in water that’s mostly well under 150-feet deep. But if the weather keeps you at Santa Cruz, you can expect to fish in 200 to 360-feet of water.
1/2-day and 3/4-day boats out of those landings have been scoring fish as well. The Gentleman out of Channel Islands Sportfishing reported limits of good-sized reds on one of their 3/4-day trips earlier this week. The wind is forecast to lay down up there this weekend, so chances are we’ll be seeing some good scores up there in coming days.
Sport boats fishing the coast from the Santa Monica Bay down to San Diego are focusing almost exclusively on rockfish and sculpin. That being said, a few yellows have shown up in the counts this week. The Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing got two fish on Wednesday while fishing sculpin at the 150 and the Patriot out of Newport Landing had one. All of these fish came on the iron. Another fish was caught on the Sum Fun out of Dana Wharf while fishing rockfish. These scattered deep-water fish might be moving in post full moon or they may just be a fluke.
Private boaters have been scoring the occasional yellowtail as well. Nic Dragomire fished out of San Diego late last week and managed three fish on bird schools. Private boaters fishing out of Long Beach reported lots of bait and bird activity but haven’t been catching fish. This has been like this for several weeks now and I wouldn’t expect any big scores until some of this bait moves out and the fish become easier to isolate.
San Clemente Island remains the hot spot for overnight boats targeting yellowtail. Boats have been averaging 20 to 50 fish per day at the island. Despite the good fishing, captains have reported having trouble finding enough passengers to get off the dock during the week. The island and the boats have been getting really crowded on the weekends, so if you can get a day off from work, I highly recommend going during the week. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker and the Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing have trips running daily.
3/4-day boats fishing Catalina Island are scoring a few yellows each day, with the calicos, bonito and barracuda rounding out the counts. This is classic springtime fishing at the island and the fish are biting surface iron and flylined baits. The Enterprise out of Marina Sportfishing caught six yellows and almost limits of good-sized calicos for the 18 passengers on Wednesday.
Last but not least, the Coronado Islands are still kicking out the yellowtail. This bite has been in a downward cycle the last few days with most boats only managing a handful of fish, but that is likely to improve. Reports indicate that there are still a lot of fish being seen at the islands, but the conditions have been off. For all I know, those fish will be biting again by the time you read this, so make sure and check the latest counts for up to date info.