I’m not sure if it’s the new moon, the amount of bait in the area or the fluctuating water temperatures, but the offshore bite was anything but consistent this week. With one day feast and then next famine, the difference between success and failure this week came down to lucky timing.
As an example of that, I fished offshore on Saturday and while I find breezing tuna in a number of areas, I never saw a school that looked like it would bite. My friend Captain Gerry Mahieu was out the same day and fished the same general area, but had multiple shots at foaming fish and put a couple in the boat. When I spoke to him later that day, he gave me the coordinates of where the fish bit and they were exactly on the track line that we’d taken through a complete desert twenty minutes before he pulled into the zone.
These hours of watching inactive fish swimming on the surface, interspersed with unpredictable moments of feeding, seemed to be the case for a lot of guys this week. I gave the tuna another shot on Wednesday afternoon and managed to find some fish despite dealing with wind that was significantly higher than forecast. While it was too windy to spot breezers, the fish we did see feeding acted a lot like the ones we saw on Saturday with small spots of fish blowing out on big spots of bait. As someone who’s fished these enough to get a feel for how they react, these spots weren’t even worth casting a lure to because the bait to fish ratio was skewed enough that the bluefin weren’t going to do anything except slurp up chovies.
While the bluefin aren’t biting the lures all that well, guys are catching them on slow trolled mackerel, flying fish and trolled lures. While I’d rather not catch them on a lure than use any of the aforementioned methods, they have been producing bigger bites for the guys fishing that way.
As far as finding bigger fish goes, they seem to have slid up to and between Catalina and San Clemente Island with mostly smaller fish, along with yellowfin, on the banks below the islands.
Another reason these fish might not be biting all that well during the day is because they’re feeding heavily at night and boats fishing them have been reporting limits or near limits the last couple nights.
If you’re tired of chasing tuna, which I’m quickly becoming, there are plenty of good fishing options at the islands. Catalina, Clemente and the Dirt Clod are all producing good yellowtail bites for the sport boats fishing there, though the sea lions have been a real problem in some areas. If you’re a private boater, you’d do well to try and find fish in an area without sport boats around because it will dramatically increase your chances of avoiding sea lions.
The bass bite has been good at the islands as well and that’s what I’ll be focusing on when I run out to Santa Cruz Island on Saturday, but I will have bigger gear on standby as there have been bluefin caught up there as well. Regardless of where you’re heading to fish this weekend, I’d plan on having at least one rod capable of landing a 30 to 100 pound bluefin tuna on the boat with something tied on it that you can cast into a foamer if you find one. I had some buddies who will remain nameless get caught with the wrong gear on the way home from bass fishing last weekend that ended up going 0 for 8 on bluefin. Good luck if you’re heading out this weekend and remember to never trust the weather forecast. If it’s windier than forecast in the morning, it’s probably going to get worse as the day goes on, so plan your trip accordingly!