Offshore Fishing Action Improves Around Full Moon

With yellowfin showing back up in the counts and bluefin popping up in new areas, the September full moon proved a good one for tuna fishermen. Better yet, the couple days of wind that cam with the moon will have ended by the time you read this and the weekend forecast looks phenomenal across the entire Southern California bight. So, with less than 10 knots of wind forecast across the outer tuna grounds this weekend, let’s take a look at your fishing options.

If you’re looking to catch a trophy bluefin tuna, you’ve got a really good chance of doing that right now, but you’re going to need to get on a trip that’s going to put you in a position to get a legitimate shot.

The overwhelming majority of the big fish that are caught during daylight hours are coming on flying fish. Your best option for targeting these fish would be to book a 4-pack boat. There are enough bites to be had out there right now that all four anglers should get a shot. Some of the sport boats are also flying the kite or using balloons, but it’s luck of the draw on who’s turn it’s going to be in the rotation when the bite comes.

Sport boat anglers have a much better shot at catching a big fish on a flat fall at night. As I said last week, your chances of getting a fish at night improve greatly if you’re on a trip that has more than a few hours to fish in the dark once they get out or before they head in from a trip. So, a 2 day trip or longer is your best bet as you’ll get at least one full night of fishing. The good news for those fishing shorter trips is that there are plenty of bluefin to be caught during the day, they’re just smaller fish and can be line shy at times.

While boats are getting occasional shots at foaming bluefin that will eat lures, most fish are coming on sardines fished on small hooks with light fluorocarbon leaders. So, if you’re heading out on a trip, listen closely to what line and hook size the crew recommends. These guys are out there every day and know what it takes to get a bite, so listen to them. They want you to catch fish.

The smaller bluefin popped up in several different areas during the full moon but it sounds like they were a lot more show that go. That being said, if you get on the right school at the right time, you can catch fish. The full day fleet out of San Diego had a few hits on bluefin this week, but have been focusing their efforts on the yellowfin tuna that have moved into our waters. While it doesn’t sound like there is a lot of yellowfin anywhere, there’s a little yellowfin everywhere from the beach out to San Clemente Island. Most of these fish are being found associating with dolphin, so that makes them easy enough to look for.

The yellowtail fishing at Catalina has improved a bit this week and while no one has gotten a big score, there are plenty of quality fish biting at the island. There hasn’t been much coverage at San Clemente Island this week, but I’d imagine you could catch some yellows there as well if you’re looking to take advantage of the good weather and avoid the Catalina crowds this weekend. I wish you the best of luck wherever you decide to fish this weekend!

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...