Bluefin Tuna Bite In Local Waters

Bluefin Tuna Bite

This April Fools Day, like all of those before it, brought reports of big tuna showing up in our local waters. The difference this year was that it wasn’t a joke. This crazy and seemingly endless season continued to surprise with schools of big bluefin popping up within one-day range of San Diego.

Before anyone gets too excited, there is some serious wind forecast for later this weekend and it’s probably going to change things up a bit. That being said, at the time of this writing on Thursday morning, the Pride out of Seaforth Landing has a trip scheduled tonight and the boat is online all weekend.

Saturday looks fishable but Sunday and Monday might be a mess, so definitely check your weather forecast before booking a trip.

The Josie Lynn fished earlier this week and they managed bluefin up to 70-pounds. On Wednesday, the guys at Guardian Charters found them, as did the crew of the Pride who were out on a private boat.

From what those guys were saying, it sounds like they found multiple spots of fish scattered around a good-sized area. Hopefully whatever weather we get this weekend doesn’t blow out the zone too badly.

In other southern news, the yellowtail are still biting at the Coronado Islands and the 3/4 day boats are averaging good numbers with the occasional huge score. On Friday of last week, the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing had 178 fish and the Malihini out of H&M Landing came close to breaking the 100 fish mark again on Wednesday with 93 fish. The sport boats have been getting most of there fish off of sonar schools and if they can avoid getting hammered by private boats those fish have been coming up and biting the surface iron and flylined baits.

Speaking of skiffs, I’d advise anyone that’s taking their own boat to avoid fishing around the sport boats. There are enough fish at the island to avoid the crowds and still get bit. Matt Kotch and I took our boat to the Coronados last Friday and had pretty good fishing despite not knowing the islands at all. We started out on the weather side of south island and slow trolled a mackerel over some marks in 100-feet of water. That resulted in an instant bite from a 12-pound yellow. The seals got on us after that fish so we left and looked around south of the islands.

We ran into Captain Duane Mellor of Seasons Sportfishing down that way and spent the morning fishing bait schools for four more yellows on the surface iron from 18 to 25-pounds. Matt and I called it a day at noon because we had plenty of fish, but Duane reported catching fish all day. Moral of this story is that there are plenty of fish biting in places where the fleet isn’t, so you don’t need to deal with the frustration of fishing in a crowd.

If you really want to avoid the crowds, you can do what my friend John Curry did on Sunday and go look in an area that’s not supposed to be biting. John and his brother Travis spent the day looking around the Horseshoe Kelp for yellows. They were rewarded for their efforts when a school of big yellows popped up midday. The fish were biting the surface iron and stayed up long enough for John to catch two, while his brother lost his only hook up. These are the same big yellows that we were catching a couple months ago up here and they’re getting bigger. The larger of John’s fish bottomed out his 30-pound scale.

Bluefin Tuna Bite

Catalina Island has also been producing some bigger yellows, but the vast majority of them are the 8 to 12-pound models.

Just about every 3/4-day boat from Newport to Marina Del Rey is fishing the island and all of them have been catching fish, so pick your favorite boat and go fishing.

Bluefin Tuna Bite

Private boaters have also been getting in on the action, with Farnsworth Bank producing the biggest fish. Captain Jimmy Decker fished the island with Joey Shimizu of Tady Lures and they managed several good-sized yellows on Tady 45’s.

The yellows are still biting at San Clemente Island but the wind is going to be an issue out there this weekend. The same holds true for the rockfish bite at the Channel Islands. There is some serious wind forecast for the outer waters, I’d advise waiting until next week before trying to fish those areas. At best it’s going to be a long and miserably rough day.

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...