Offshore Bite Continues

It’s been another week of good offshore fishing in Southern California and the big news continues to be the bluefin tuna bite.

While some days and some zones have been more productive than others, the volume of fish off our coast is just ridiculous. There are fish spread over a hundred-mile expanse from below the Mexican border to well above Catalina and from the beach out to 60 or 70 miles out. Speaking of the beach, a friend sent me a video of a bluefin foamer that someone filmed while sitting on the beach in Huntington, and judging by how close to the surf line they were the fish were up foaming in less than 20-feet of water.

With such a huge spread of fish in our waters, private boaters who are willing to get out and look around a bit can very easily find their own fish while avoiding other boaters if they get off the beaten track while looking. Jimmy Decker and I attempted to do just that on Saturday when we launched out of Newport with a plan to look between the 209 and 182. Not surprisingly, the idea of a long run went out the window when we found our first spot of fish six miles out of the harbor. Based on our proximity to the coast and the line we were running, we were immediately ramrodded by three boats that saw us stopped, and casting immediately came charging in. Rather than spend another second dealing with that, we left that zone to the other guys. Not surprisingly, as soon as we left, the other boats left as well because they were too busy watching us to notice the big breezer of bluefin we were targeting.

Once we got out of that zone a few miles we found our first foamer of fish and shortly thereafter hooked our first fish. The fish continued to pop up and bite throughout the morning and we kept picking up boats that would see us stopped and pull in. A good trick we figured out for when that happened would be to drive right at the boat, pull up, and ask them if they are seeing any tuna because “this place is a desert” even though we’ve got bluefin laying on deck and there’s a foamer up an eighth of a mile behind us. Then pointing to the group of boats that had piled up around us on an earlier spot, “I saw those guys hooked up when I drove by”. Once the boat started racing back towards the bite zone from an hour ago, we’d go back to having the biting zone to ourselves.

If you’re having a problem with boats, you should try it. If you’re the boat looking for other boats instead of fish, you should stop it.

Getting back to the report. The bluefin are still biting surface lures cast into foamers but just because you find foamers, doesn’t mean you’re going to get a bite. Over the last few weeks, it seems to be a time of day thing with the fish biting much better later in the day than they do in the morning. You can also tell if the fish are going to bite or not by looking at their posture when foaming. If the foamer is loosely spread out or more of a line than a circle your chances of getting a bite are pretty low. Find one that’s a circular shape and has that foamy jacuzzi water in the center and it’s usually a guaranteed bite if you can get your lure in the middle of it.

If you’re looking for bigger tuna, there are plenty of those around as well but some areas seem to have more of them than others. Guys are seeing spots of big ones mixed in with the foamers on the inner banks and along the beach but the majority of the guys catching the big ones are doing it behind Catalina Island. The big ones are still being caught on flying fish but I’m sure they’d be happy to bite a lure if you find them up and feeding. The weather looks a little windy this weekend, so you’ll want to take a good look at the forecast if you’re planning to make a long run in a smaller boat.

Good luck if you’re fishing!

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...