No Love from the Blue Tuna But Plenty of Yellowtail Tuna Fun
Oh, bluefin…… I don’t claim to be a bluefin tuna aficionado by any stretch but, I have at least spent enough days chasing them within our current local cycle to fully know the feeling of “bluefin being bluefin”. So before you read on, here’s your spoiler alert. This is not a tale or log of stacking the deck with tuna. Preface and borderline still slightly bitter rant over.
For a myriad of reasons (largely the wind – which I’m sure we all want to give a collective “BD Salute” to), my days on the water have been slacking severely. So with great signal of bluefin and kelp paddy yellowtail, I’ve been extremely giddy to get out there. Even more so to be able to reconnect with good fishing buddies and getting the chance to fish with those who I’ve hoped to. With good weather forecast on tap, Ali Hussainy, Dave Downing, Ben Secrest (Accurate Fishing & industry vet), and I did the morning routine and set course for the tuna grounds.
Epic weather conditions indeed. After a little bit of “May Grey” burnt off, we buzzed down to the zone in no time and starting our day with some warm-up paddy fishing. It didn’t take long to find one with the goods. I dumped a scoop of chum over and pitched a fired-up sardine under the paddy. Insta-bit. I wound tight on what was quickly recognized as a solid yellowtail (not a tuna – I know) with a new Accurate Tern 500 + Valiant 8′ rod Ben brought along. That combo proved lethal and the skunk was officially off the boat.
We proceeded to find a few more loaded kelp paddies with the whole crew getting in on the fun. Fish ranged from 4-pound little guys (all released) to fun grade 8-15-pounders (most released with a couple of nicer models taken for dinner). Once they were fired up, they were eager to chew live baits and surface irons alike. Although always so much fun and great eaters, that was not our primary mission.
As we pulled off the kelp and switched gears to big tuna mode – I peeked around the grounds in the gyros. Very quickly I spotted our target. A large bluefin breaching and marching straight towards us. Another. A breezer coming together in the distance. We readied the kite and deployed our California Flyer (aka Immortal Flyer) off the side as we slow motored through the zone. These fish looked to be mostly in the 100-150 class with a few proper jumbos (200+) mixed in. What we quickly realized, this group was fast-moving, extremely skittish, and to keep the story short – wanted nothing to do with baits.
From excitement to slight annoyance to frustration to downright baffled. We truly threw every trick in the book at them. Several shots with well-presented baits (frozen flying fish or California Flyer) into the leading edge of breezers. Dropped directly into the middle. Skipped through. Flat falls and sardines on fish finder marks. All to no avail on this particular group of fish. Relentless effort from Captain Ali setting up on the schools. Ben and I working the kite & bait in tandem. Dave in the tower glassing fish ALL day. They just did not want what we were offering and it wasn’t our day. “Bluefin being bluefin”. Unless you’re Duane Diego. Then you get bit and throw the first jumbo of the charter season on the new boat. Congrats Duane!
To be honest, I truly don’t mind days like this. Sure frustrating at times, but between a great group fishing together and the lessons learned in those off days, I’m more than happy to put in my dues. Plus it’s rad to see just how local these big fish are! Trust us – they are A LOT closer than you might think (hint hint). It’s going to be another one of those “once in a hundred years” seasons we are starting to grow accustomed to in this current cycle. But I don’t think many of us are complaining here in SoCal and I’m certainly not taking it for granted!!
Get out there and fish! Jump on your favorite charter or sport boat and get in on the action. And don’t forget to tag us in your fishing adventures this weekend. We absolutely love to see your catches and share in on the action.