Full Moon Delivers Offshore Anglers
Being somewhere in the middle of my seventh year of writing this weekly column, I realize that I’ve developed a fairly regimented Thursday morning routine. I’ll get up, drink coffee, look through all the social media photos I’ve right clicked and saved during the week, drink more coffee, check the marine weather forecast, call Matt Kotch to see if he wants to fish later, check Fishdope and take a final pass through our forums to see if there were any late breaking bites I might have missed. Once done with all that, I’ll sit down and read over the previous week’s column to see if the weekend fishing looked anything at all like I’d predicted it might. While my prognostications don’t always pan out, I’m happy to report that last week’s full moon lived up to my expectations.
I’ve got quite a bit to cover today, but thought I’d start off with a couple of trips I took over the weekend. I took my dad local fishing on Saturday even though I knew the moon was going to have the bass in a funk. We started at Izor’s and the bass did exactly what I expected them to, they bit first thing in the morning and stopped biting once the sun got up past the low clouds. I didn’t stick around to find out but I’d bet dollars to donuts that the fish started biting again just before dark. The lesson to be learned is that full moons make for lousy bass fishing more often than not.
Still knowing that the bass fishing was likely to suck I ran to San Clemente Island on Sunday with Jimmy Decker. We justified the trip convincing ourselves that we were really going there to fish yellows, even though both us brought mostly bass tackle. The bass (and yellowtail) fishing ended up being lousy enough that we left the island to go look for a swordfish or marlin. On our way off the island we ran towards the ridge where we saw bluefin on the previous full moon and ended up finding them again. You can read the whole story here but the Cliff Notes lesson is that you don’t need to follow the fleet around to find tuna right now. All you need to do is go and look for them in areas that past experience tells you they might be given water conditions and lunar cycle.
Speaking of lunar cycles and a full moon, the big volume of bluefin that was below Clemente last week moved up the island and bit at night for boats fishing Flat Fall jigs. My buddy Shawn Morgan fished the island on Friday and Saturday aboard the yacht Legend and reported catching three big tuna, two on kite and one on the Flat Fall. His son Rudy is posing with one of the kite fish here. There were a lot of boats in this zone over the weekend and some caught fish but most of the ones that stayed glued to the fleet struck out. These bluefin are not fond of boat pressure so your best bet at getting bit is to go and find some fish that you can have to yourself. I know that a tightly packed group of boats is hard to steer away from when you haven’t seen anything all day offshore, but it’s what you’re going to need to do if you want to catch fish.
The night bite dried up once the full moon passed and while there were still some fish being caught, the action was a lot slower by Sunday night. My buddy Gerry Mahieu was one of the guys that struck out on Sunday and after a long night of not catching on his bay boat he ventured off the beaten path on Monday morning and found fish off the west end of the island. The fish were all big ones and his first two hook ups on poppers didn’t end well. He tried flying the kite for a while after that but couldn’t get a bite from the foaming fish so he went back to casting and hooked another jumbo that he lost after an hour. The fish stayed up throughout the battle so he re-rigged his kite rod with a hook and cast out the only mackerel he had in the tank. That resulted in an instant bite and after another hour of hardship, this beautiful 71-inch fish made it into the boat. After close to three hours of beatings I’d imagine he’s got the big fish bug out of his system for a while.
As you can see by this week’s Navionics Chart, there are bluefin scattered from below the border to up past the dirt clod. Your job this weekend is to go find them somewhere that a bunch of other guys aren’t looking for them too. Now, let’s take a quick look at what else is biting. As predicted the full moon kicked the seabass and yellowtail bite back into gear at the Channel Islands. The seabass are still hit and miss but the yellowtail bite at Santa Cruz Island is pretty consistent. With good weather in the forecast this weekend the northern zone should be a fun place to fish.
The yellows are still biting at Catalina Island but weekend boat pressure can make for a frustrating fishing experience. San Clemente Island hasn’t been getting much fishing pressure but the bass are biting and there are some yellows cruising around. I had a couple buddies fish the west end of the island on Saturday and Sunday and both reported excellent bass fishing. If you read my linked report you already know that the fish on the east end weren’t nearly as cooperative. I’m skipping the coast in this week’s report as there’s nothing all that exciting happening. I am however going to run up and fish Palos Verdes this afternoon and will report in if I find anything amazing.
The kelp paddy yellows are biting off San Diego and, as you can see from the picture at the top of this column, the fish are quite a bit larger than normal paddy fish. These were part of an almost 200 fish day aboard the Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing. While the scores aren’t always that high the boats have been finding fish every day. There are dorado as well as both yellowfin and bluefin tuna mixed in with the yellows so its a great option if you’re looking for something to do other than get abused by big tuna.