Excellent SoCal Fishing Continues

While the boat traffic got a little extreme over the holiday weekend, it’s been another pretty darned good week of fishing across most of SoCal. The highlight once again this week was the big bluefin bite on the backside of San Clemente Island. My buddy Captain Shawn Morgon spent a few days at the island and told me that Sunday afternoon was the best show of big bluefin he’s ever seen in his life. At one point he was in the middle of a 100-yard wide foamer of fish from 200-pounds to what he’d guesstimate at over 400. And while they fought the bluefin they’d hooked out of it, he said that he could see similar size foamers all the way to the horizon in every direction he looked.

bluefin socal

While I missed out on that excitement, I fished the island on Sunday as well. After catching over a hundred bass and missing several shots at yellowtail in the first couple hours, Jimmy Decker and I decided to take a look off the west end. We hadn’t made it three miles before we found our first foamer of bluefin and while we did hook one on that stop it ended up coming off. We spent the next four hours chasing breezers and quick foamers of 15 to 150-pound bluefin as well as schools of 20 to 30-pound yellowfin. The fish were keyed in on extremely small anchovies and every time we’d pull up to a foamer, the anchovies would race under the boat to hide and the tuna would sink out. To add insult to injury, we had a marlin pop up next to a breezer of bluefin but it wouldn’t bite the mackerel we cast on it. While all we ended up catching was a bunch of bass, it was pretty awesome to have shots at yellowtail, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, and marlin all within a few miles of one another.

SoCal yellows

As you can see from this week’s Navionics Chart, the good news is that the yellowfin have moved into the channel between Catalina and San Clemente. The bad news is that I fished them on Friday and they were just about as uncooperative as the fish I found off Clemente. We spent five or six hours throwing everything in the tackle box at giant breezers of fish and only managed to catch two fish. The even worse news is that someone called in the seiners on that zone and when I drove by there again on Sunday there were eight of them all making sets. While I saw enough fish up there that I don’t think eight boats could put a big dent in it, whatever fish escaped becoming cat food are likely to be a little more boat shy afterward.

SoCal yellows

Taking a quick detour to the islands, the yellows are biting at San Clemente, San Nic, Catalina, and the Dirt Clod if you want to target them. If I were going to go yellowtail fishing on my boat this weekend, I’d probably make the mistake of going to the Dirt Clod because I’m an idiot and it’s been long enough since my last trip there that I’ve forgotten just how horrible that place is. Thankfully I won’t be tempted to make that run because I’ll be fishing the Master Angler Billfish Tournament this weekend. As a reminder to anyone who might be fishing offshore this weekend, if you see a bunch of big yachts driving back and forth over one of the local banks they’re fishing marlin, not tuna. I always get a laugh seeing private boaters pull up and start casting poppers in the middle of a bunch of boats trolling for marlin. Another word of caution is that if you see a yacht stopped and there’s a guy in the cockpit or on the bow with a jumping fish on the end of his line, it’s not worth driving up and looking to see if he’s on a hot paddy or catching tuna, you’ll probably just get yelled at lol.

Speaking of marlin, it sounds like there are fish scattered from below the Mexican border to the Channel Islands, so keep an eye out for sleepers when you’re running around offshore. The swordfish are also biting for the guys deep drop fishing along the coast and at the islands. My buddy John Curry made a solo run on Wednesday morning and texted me before noon that he already had one on the boat. Pretty awesome solo accomplishment!

SoCal swordfish

Finally, the fishing out of San Diego has improved a bit. While the dorado fishing is still sort of hit and miss, boats have also been getting on some schools of yellowfin tuna that want to bite. On Wednesday the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing found a cooperative school and landed 107 fish from 10 to 30-pounds. The weather looks a little windy in the afternoons the next couple days, so you might want to keep an eye on it if you’re going to make a run offshore.

Erik Landesfeind
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...