Offshore Bluefin and Yellowfin 7/9

ryanhead

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Oct 19, 2009
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San Diego, CA
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Ryan
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24' Skipjack Flybridge
Friday ended up being a really tough day, most guys we talked to were lucky if they brought home anything, save a few yellowtail. Conditions were perfect and the fish were everywhere, but didn't cooperate. We managed one 30# bluefin a mile away from the fleet at the 425 on a few breaking fish that stuck with us for 10 minutes. Another boat nearby managed to troll up 6 yellowfin, all blind, single strikes with no followups on bait. For some reason we couldn't get bit on the troll, even though we were trolling in the exact same zone as the guys who got 6.

The afternoon was much more interesting, though less productive. Everyone was calling out non-biting breezers several miles west of the islands so we went to investigate and found a dozen bird schools working spots of fish. We tried several with no luck before finding a massive spot that was probably 500' x 500' and went 100' deep on the sonar. They were so dense on the surface that it was easy to follow the school and determine their direction. We ran ahead of them, shut down and literally watched them swim under the boat while throwing all manner of jigs and flylining baits. We could see 1.5"-2" bait in the water and they must have been keyed in on that small stuff, but we dropped down to 28g snipers and they wouldn't even look at it. The school stayed together and we setup on them 20 times over 3 hours and never got bit. I assumed that we would eventually get one if we kept trying, but that's bluefin fishing. Oddly, our fun was put to an abrupt end when the San Diego chased down the school from behind, ran full throttle into the middle of the fish 100 yards from where we were waiting for the school to come to us. They brailed bait and a bunch of 80-100# pound fish came up and put on quite a show for a few minutes, but no one on the San Diego hooked up and the school scattered. Practically, it was a fun show to watch and I'm glad they gave us an excuse to give up, but it didn't seem like a very good way to catch fish. We tried to hail the San Diego to give them the speed and heading of the school so they could setup on them, but I don't know what channels they monitor. I wasn't about the tie up 16 to talk about fish, so does anyone know if there's a VHF channel that the cattle boats are on so that we can work with them? Also, if a breezer isn't biting, is it ever productive to run into the middle of it and start brailing bait? Does the chaos of breaking up a school ever get them in a biting mood? I consider the San Diego to be a really great operation and driving into the middle of a breezer seemed odd, but that boat catches far more fish than I do so maybe that's a legit technique?

In summary, I spent 3 hours learning that there are schools of fish that just will not eat anything with a hook. I had never had a school of tuna give me so many opportunities to setup on them as they slowly swam by, and I had previously assumed that in such a situation I would certainly be able to catch something. I'd say that we had fish within casting range for 2.5 hours of the 3 hours that we followed them around. If you're out there and find a nice school of fish and they don't bite after several attempts, it might be wise to bail and find another school. In hindsight, we should have left after our 10th attempt because we were drained and low on bait and probably drove past 30 spots of fish on the way home and didn't have the energy to stop. Also, it might be time to invest in a bluewater speargun. The local fishing is going to be amazing if this volume of fish ever starts biting consistently! Until then, it's probably worth heading further south to the 425 where the fish aren't putting on a show but are much more willing to bite.
 

QuailSlayer

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Aug 3, 2014
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Coastal - San Diego North County
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jj
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Got one
Great write-up and thanks for the post. And welcome to the world of finicky BFT! We’ve all been there. I really equate it to hunting chukar (a tenacious delicious game bird that is so difficult to hunt)…the first outing is for fun, the rest are for revenge.
 
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dwaynesda

dwayne
Apr 27, 2003
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dwayne
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Cabo 216
"does anyone know if there's a VHF channel that the cattle boats are on so that we can work with them?"

They do not monitor the VHF channels we use. Too much garbage. They have specialized radios they use to stay in touch with each other.
 
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Robert c. Sample

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Feb 11, 2019
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Robert sample
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Reel rage
Forget helping cattle boats.all they want to do is run private boats over. Very rarely any cooperation with private boats. It's mostly the passengers on board that throw stinkers eggs cuss at you.but some captains will run close to you make big wakes mess with you.not all but some .but honestly it works both ways.lots of asshole private captains too.
 

ryanhead

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Oct 19, 2009
161
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San Diego, CA
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Ryan
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24' Skipjack Flybridge
"does anyone know if there's a VHF channel that the cattle boats are on so that we can work with them?"

They do not monitor the VHF channels we use. Too much garbage. They have specialized radios they use to stay in touch with each other.
Forget helping cattle boats.all they want to do is run private boats over. Very rarely any cooperation with private boats. It's mostly the passengers on board that throw stinkers eggs cuss at you.but some captains will run close to you make big wakes mess with you.not all but some .but honestly it works both ways.lots of asshole private captains too.
I agree that we don't have a history of collaboration, and that both private and cattle boat captains do stupid things. I setup wrong outside the Chief once and got too busy fishing and drifted right into their chum line. That was years ago and I still feel bad about it. But I think we can all do better. Imagine a San Diego fishing utopia where a big network of private boats can run around and locate schools of fish and call in cattle boats that can chum them up and then let us little guys get in tight and work the school too. How many times are we out there in the afternoon with a few pieces of bait left and we find a massive school 100' down and know that we could knock em dead if only we had enough chum to bring them up? I've been in that situation a few times, Vendetta responded once, but otherwise I've never had another cattle boat return a call. Us private boaters occasionally find a school that wants to die and we limit out and hand the school off to other private boats, but I don't see why we don't hand those schools off to cattle boats. Our friends and fishing community are on those cattle boats and I think it's perfectly reasonable to help them catch fish. Maybe the first step towards us all catching more fish is just a few guys on both sides reaching out to each other. It's supposed to be fisherman against the fish, not private boats against cattle boats.
 
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surfgoose

active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
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    Long Beach, CA, USA
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    Gary
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    whichever has the longest bunk
    Does heavy chumming bring a school up and get them fired up to bite? Yes, sometimes. And you never know unless you try it. I was on a 2.5-day on the Islander a few years ago when the tuna were around but being uncooperative. Captain John Coniff tried marking sonar schools and literally scooping bait over the side while in a circle, and sometimes the school would come up and smash the sardines and we would flyline and get a handful of hookups before the school sank out. He went through so much bait that we had to go back to SD that night and re-bait so we could do it again the next day. And we did, ending up with almost boat limits of nice 20# to 40# tuna for the trip. It helps to be a big boat with a huge bait capacity, a private boat couldn't do that. Twenty sardines won't get them up, but a couple of hundred might.
     
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    Kman

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    Apr 7, 2003
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    Robalo R180 Trailer Trash
    I remember a couple years ago getting a radio call from a skipper calling out numbers for a school of tuna down deep. He was hoping that several private boats combined could chum them up, which we did.

    The skipper who called in the boats was you.
     
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