Lots of Show and Some Go - Newport Beach Bluefin Report

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So Cal Editor
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May 1, 2005
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Erik
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Robalo 226 Cayman
Decker and I made another run offshore out of Newport on Saturday and we were joined by Matt who had a rare Saturday off work. Our plan was to run a similar track as we did last week but our friend Justin Reynolds found some bigger bluefin further south on Friday so we decided to angle our course down the line a bit.

Out of the harbor at 5:30 and enjoyed a grease calm crossing. Saw some puddling yellowfin inside the 181 and babysat them for a few minutes but it just didn't look right so we kept rolling. We were running without a current SST again and the water around the 181 was 69.7. I knew that the bluefin the day before were biting in colder water than that, so I kept my eye on the temp gauge as we ran. Finally hit an almost 2 degree break and there were birds and bait on it so we ran along the cold side of it looking.

Just after the tide we started seeing some breezers of bluefin and followed those around for a while but they weren't biting as usual. There were three or four sportboats, along with a half dozen private boats, scattered over probably five miles so we had all the water we wanted to ourselves. Eventually the breezers became puddlers, then small spots of foamers and then big spots of foamers.

Decker and I doubled up on the first real foamer we pulled up on and the fish were definitely a little bigger than last week's. I snagged mine in the back with a Rapala Subwalker and could tell it was snagged by the way it was fighting so I pulled as hard as I could and got the 70-80 pound fish to the boat in about five minutes. I've found that when the fish are snagged you're probably going to lose them. So, you can pull really hard and risk tearing the hook out or fight them normally and risk having the hook fall out due to the skin tear getting bigger. I prefer pulling hard and win or lose getting it over with fast.
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Decker wasn't going anywhere fast because he hooked the fish on a Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil he had tied on a bass rod.
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Putting as much pressure as he could on the Rainshadow Judge 810ML and Revo Beast 50, he managed to get the fish to gaff in about 15 minutes.
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I let Matt do the heavy lifting while I took pics.
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If anybody has been wondering about how the Hydro Pencil will hold up on bigger fish I guess this 80 pounder answers that question.
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Decker and I posed for a group pic and then headed off to the next foamer to give Matt a shot at catching one.
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There were three foamers up when the shutter snapped so we just ran to the closest one and Matt got bit on the Subwalker on his first cast. The fish was tail wrapped and he got it to the boat in about 30 seconds but no one was ready with the gaff and the fish came unwrapped and hauled ass.
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I reminded Matt that this was the same rod he'd fought and lost a big fish on last year after fighting it for over an hour. Not wanting to go through that again he pulled hard and had the fish at gaff in ten minutes.
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As you can see it was still a little hot when he got it to the boat but Decker brained it with the gaff.
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I'd put the fish somewhere around 100 pounds which is Matt's personal best and a little revenge for that big one he lost last year.
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Once we got the third fish boated the foamers had gone back to being small and quick so we decided to process the fish and get them into the ice. While Matt and Decker worked I cruised along looking for fish. While I didn't see any foamers I saw multiple small groups of 200-plus pound fish come up and boil or jump. Had one come up so close to the boat that I drove through the boil it left. Those three fish ended up being large enough to fill the fish box, even with their heads cut off so we decided to call it a day at 11:30 and were back in the harbor before 2 pm.
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Jimmy's excellent fish care procedure on the boat had the tuna ice cold and ready for processing when we got back.

Something that was very apparent this trip and the reports I heard from other boats fishing the area is that the bluefin aren't biting well even when they're coming up and foaming. Over the last couple trips I've noticed that the only time the fish will bite a lure in a foamer (at least for me) is when the the foamer is tight and circular. If the foamer is spread out in a line they don't bite, if they're just splashing around in a loose formation they don't bite either. But when I find a tight circular foamer and can throw a 5-inch hard bait into the middle of it it's been a 100% hook up rate.
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Finally, over the last two trips I have seen or metered yellowfin and bluefin tuna scattered from the 209 to the 43. That's a 35 mile spread of fish. There are lots and lots of tuna in our local waters and they are getting almost zero fishing pressure.
 
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DennisV

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Jan 4, 2017
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Dennis Vagt
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Just a NuCanoe Frontier now.
Good post.
I remember the subwalker post from last year. I'm going Wed 10th and that's what I'm planning to throw. Glad to see you still using it.
 
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efx

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Nov 21, 2017
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Rich
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28 Grady White - Miz Marengo
excellent report. It shows how being observant makes the difference. That sea state looks perfect. Thanks for the great chart info. Also, the hydro pencil looks like the Heddon Zara Spook. I’ve been using those since the 90’s. Great walk the dog Hardbaits. That’s coming from a Florida keys guy.
 
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get some

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May 1, 2005
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Erik you dirtbag! I got exited thinking there was bluefin off Newport. I was gonna jump on a twilight boat and bring my UC Viper!


Great report though, thank you!
With the amount of good looking water off the coast right now I wouldn't surprised if the fish moved into the local banks soon.
 
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Tunahead

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Aug 11, 2006
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Great report and pics/intel Erik. NICE FISH guys, and oh yeah
Decker on the bass rod LOL LOL LOL. Epic as usual you 3. LOL
 
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EntropyFletch

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Jun 18, 2004
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Great job and report.

I agree 100% on the foamer intel. I was out on Tuesday and we made thousands of casts to both BFT and YFT from 10-200+ pounds. The only time we got bit on the BFT (3 bites total) was casting into those tight, circular foamers. I hooked and lost a 80-100 pound fish on the full size Halco popper early (hook pulled after 20 min with fish 30' from boat). Hooked and landed a 40 pound fish in a similar foamer, and we also hooked a 150-200 pound fish, but it ran for 3 min straight and eventually broke the hook in half...
 
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EntropyFletch

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jun 18, 2004
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Question for you Erik, although I guess you have already answered it...I was throwing the big Halco popper on my Calstar 900H with TranX 500, which works great for the big heavy poppers and stick baits like the full size Shimano Orcas.

I also brought a Lexa 400 on a Phenix 909H to throw the smaller, lighter 5" baits that I think are working better (as you prove above)...however I'm definitely worried about throwing that at the bigger model stuff of 60-100#+. It seems like you guys don't worry about that and use the lighter gear though. What do you recommend throwing the lighter jigs on that can still handle a 100# fish?
 

get some

So Cal Editor
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May 1, 2005
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Erik
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Robalo 226 Cayman
Question for you Erik, although I guess you have already answered it...I was throwing the big Halco popper on my Calstar 900H with TranX 500, which works great for the big heavy poppers and stick baits like the full size Shimano Orcas.

I also brought a Lexa 400 on a Phenix 909H to throw the smaller, lighter 5" baits that I think are working better (as you prove above)...however I'm definitely worried about throwing that at the bigger model stuff of 60-100#+. It seems like you guys don't worry about that and use the lighter gear though. What do you recommend throwing the lighter jigs on that can still handle a 100# fish?
If you’re on your own boat you’re fine fishing the light stuff. If your on a sport boat I’d not throw it at anything over 50 pounds. Also if you put 65 pound braid to 60 pound leader on your lexa 400 you’ll be able to handle fish to 100 pounds but you’re going to need to be willing to thumb the spool and really put some heat on them when they’re straight up and down. A lot of guys are scared of pulling too hard and losing them which usually results in an hour plus of fighting the fish straight up and down. If you get to the point where you can’t budge the fish fighting it normally it’s time to put the rod on your knee or rail and both thumbs on the spool to start lifting the fish. Once you get their head up the fight gets a lot easier and you can get them to the boat quick.
 

Tunaslam

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Apr 25, 2003
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Cory Visser
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Way to go guys, some fine fishing talent there, congrats!
 
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EntropyFletch

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jun 18, 2004
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1990 Mako 171
If you’re on your own boat you’re fine fishing the light stuff. If your on a sport boat I’d not throw it at anything over 50 pounds. Also if you put 65 pound braid to 60 pound leader on your lexa 400 you’ll be able to handle fish to 100 pounds but you’re going to need to be willing to thumb the spool and really put some heat on them when they’re straight up and down. A lot of guys are scared of pulling too hard and losing them which usually results in an hour plus of fighting the fish straight up and down. If you get to the point where you can’t budge the fish fighting it normally it’s time to put the rod on your knee or rail and both thumbs on the spool to start lifting the fish. Once you get their head up the fight gets a lot easier and you can get them to the boat quick.
Thanks, yes on my own boat or friends boat. I have 65# braid on my Lexa and usually use an 80# flouro leader to the jig.
 
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Baja Belk

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Sep 8, 2009
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I snagged mine in the back with a Rapala Subwalker and could tell it was snagged by the way it was fighting so I pulled as hard as I could and got the 70-80 pound fish to the boat in about five minutes. I've found that when the fish are snagged you're probably going to lose them. So, you can pull really hard and risk tearing the hook out or fight them normally and risk having the hook fall out due to the skin tear getting bigger. I prefer pulling hard and win or lose getting it over with fast.
Mike Long'd one myself this weekend, but pulled the hook. Some of us have all the luck ;)