Local Bluefin In Southern California

When I was going through my SoCal roundup last week, I talked about 3/4-day boats fishing Catalina Island being a bright spot, and how-

“You could be pleasantly surprised at what you might encounter at Catalina these days…”

I was referring to the fact that the overnight boats had recently been whacking the bluefin out on the backside of Catalina.  My buddy, Richie Landerer (right) was on the Amigo the previous week for an overnight trip.  He told me they were joined back there by all the other overnight boats as well as some long range and multi-day boats out of San Diego.  Even though the backside of Cat is within range of the 3/4-day boats, it’s far.  I wasn’t sure if they would actually make the push out there.  Well no sooner did my article post on Tuesday morning (August 11th) than reports started to get out that not only did the 3/4-day boats go after them, but they whacked ’em!

Tuesday was the best of it, but Wednesday and Thursday offered local trip opportunities to catch bluefin tuna as well.  The Enterprise out of Pierpoint Landing was the high boat on Tuesday with 48 bluefin!  Capt. Mitch Christensen reported that they got them on their first drift and continued to work that zone to reach that lofty count.  Flylined sardines with 25# fluoro and a size 1 or 2 hook was the hot ticket, but Mitch reported that they got them on dropper loops, flatfalls, and Colt Snipers as well.  The fish caught were say 20-35-pounds (top pic), so a nice grade of fish especially considering how this was happening on a 3/4-day trip.  Crewmember Connor Cassotta told me that they loaded bait early to get a jump on the rest of the fleet, so that tactic contributed as well to the big day they had at the island.

As things typically happen, that hot bite dissipated by the weekend.  Even if you were paying close attention on Tuesday, could go fishing midweek and got right on it…chances were you were still locked out on getting in on it because boats were sold out.  Keep in mind no matter what is going on, it’s always better to go midweek.  It is summer and you probably have some vacation days you need to use.  So as I said last week, get your buddies together, pick a date, and go fishing.

Speaking Of Tuna Fishing

I was supposed to go out fishing this Tuesday (August 18) out of Newport, Oregon on the Umatilla II again.  The guys invited me out on a crew trip to go find some albacore tuna.  Unfortunately, I heard from Capt. Jeremy Freitag over the weekend.  Jeremy told me the fish were still too far out to make it a successful day trip.  One of my commercial boat contacts told me it’s too bad it wasn’t going to work out as his boat was getting about 1500 pounds of fish per stop with an average size of 20-pounds per fish!  We’ll still try to make that trip happen, but just not this week.

So for the time being I’ve continued to fish the pier.  I’m at two fish now on 4 opportunities, so as long as I continue to convert future opportunities, I’ll end up doing better than I did last year.  Chinooks (aka Kings) are still on tap for probably another couple weeks (before they’ve gone upstream), but the excitement last week was that silvers (aka coho) started to show on the inside section of the L-shaped pier I’ve been fishing at Dash Point (Tacoma, WA).

Unlike the deep jigging technique we’ve been employing for the kings, the silvers are caught on the pier using lighter, sub-surface jigs.

You can blind cast them these jigs (left) and hope for the best.  However, the most successful anglers sight fish them.  The idea is to see the fish, guess which way they’re going to go and try to lead them.  The key to this endeavor is to try and get a low angle of entry in order to reduce the splash as they enter the water.  Similar to sight fishing corbina, a big splash will disperse the fish.  In order to prepare myself, I’ve been devoting a bit of time on my outings to practicing on the smaller jig.  I had my first opportunity to throw on a fish last Friday.  I went out to the far right corner of the pier to get some practice casts in when I observed a solo king cruising about a foot below the surface.  I led the fish with a decent cast and got its attention.  It altered its course to take a look but broke off without taking it.  Still, it was exciting to get that moment.  I should get more chances moving forward.  I’ll keep you guys posted.

All for now.  Book your trips early and go fishing.  Good luck if you get out there.

Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing boats of Southern California. In addition to writing his blog, Joe's writing has appeared in Western Outdoor News, The Log and Griffin Media. Joe is ...