Bluefin Bite Heats Up in Orange County Waters

It’s been another really good week of bluefin tuna fishing in US waters. Both private boaters and sport boats got into the action this week from the local banks off Orange County up to Catalina Island. As has been the case, the first day that the main fleet got on these fish was the best before things slowed down due to boat traffic and wind. The good news is that we’ve got good weather in the weekend forecast and enough fish around that anyone willing to drive away from the fleet has a good shot at finding them.

Speaking of finding them, Jimmy Decker and I fished out of Newport on Saturday and were lucky enough to get on fish early and catch limits before the wind blew in the afternoon. Our plan had been to aim a few miles below the 209 where there had been fish caught the previous day, but we made multiple stops on the way to glass for fish. On one of those spots, just past a three degree temp break from 68 to 71 degree water, we happened to mark tuna 100-feet down when we were glassing around so we knew that we were in a live zone despite not seeing any birds or signs of fish on the meter.

We were approximately half an hour off the tide so we looked around a bit and soon found a big spot of bluefin up and foaming.

Bluefin Tuna jumping

The first spot we stopped on stayed up around the boat for at least five minutes, but the fish had zero interest in biting. Having spent some time fishing bluefin the last couple years, I can pretty much tell if the fish are going to bite or not based on how they’re acting. If they are on the surface but spread out and loose, with fish swimming in different directions, they aren’t going to bite. Some other boats saw us stopped and pulled up on us so we left the non-biting tuna to them.

The fish we found weren’t all that far from where we marked the fish in the morning and when we got back in that zone we immediately found foamers that were looking prime to bite. The fish were tightly schooled and all swimming in the same direction except when churning up a tight turquoise jacuzzi as they fed on anchovies. Our first spot gave up an immediate double on 50 pounders and our second produced two more smaller fish. With limits on the boat, we drove past a mile of foaming fish on our way home. There were a few sportboats in the general zone that day and a few caught fish. I think that the Western Pride out of Davey’s Locker was the high boat with 14 bluefin.

The sportboats had much better fishing early in the week and just about everyone scored at least a few. The hot ticket on the sport boats has been a fly-lined or sinker rigged sardine during the day and flat fall type jigs at night. Some private boaters have been catching fish slow trolling mackerel, like Bloodydecks member Zika who got a couple nice ones on Wednesday. You can read his report here. As for me, the bluefin are still biting lures just fine and the hot bait this week continued to be the Asturie SW 130 FL by a Band of Anglers. I’m not exactly sure why these fish are biting this bait so well right now, but it has out fished my trusty Rapala Subwalk 15, six to zero on our last two trips. I’m going to be heading out this weekend to see if I can find a couple of cooperative looking foamers and I wish you the best of luck if you are fishing as well!

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...