Fish Report – Get Out There
Well, it’s been another good week in a year of incredible fishing. Down south the yellowfin have begun to bite in earnest for boats lucky enough to find the right schools. Meanwhile on the beach the yellowtail fishing is as good as it’s ever been, or at least the best that anyone can remember. And finally, there is a legitimate striped marlin bite happening in northern LA County.
Despite the varied and widespread fishing opportunities, the hottest topic of discussion on our message boards this week has been the complaint threads about the harassment of private boaters by sport boats. I don’t blame people for getting upset when another boater (private or commercial) invades their personal fishing space. In fact, I got chopped up by a couple private boaters over the weekend and found myself desperately wanting to drive over, board their boat, and punch some sense into them.
Rather than doing that, I yelled out “Thanks a lot” and shared a few other choice words explaining what they’d done wrong and then I drove away and kept looking. I believe that having ability to drive away and keep looking is one of the great joys of boat ownership. The fish not biting? Drive away and keep looking. Spot too crowded? Drive away and keep looking. Other boats acting in a disrespectful way? Drive away and keep looking.
The fight for fishing grounds between sport boats and private boats has been going on forever and it’s not just in Southern California, it happens anywhere that people fish for recreation alongside people who are fishing for a living. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it shouldn’t happen. Yes, something should be done. Well, the bad news is that calling the Coast Guard, or complaining at the landing has never worked and it’s never going to because there’s really no way to enforce rules of the road in the middle of a 100 boat gangbang.
So, the only option private boaters are left with is to drive away and keep looking. You can fight for what’s right by standing your ground, or making the other guy pay for his transgressions by spending your trip following him around and making it difficult to fish. Or you can just let it go, drive away and get back to having a fun day on the water. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s take a look at some of your non-gangbang fishing options for this weekend.
While there are yellowfin tuna biting from Mexican waters up past Catalina Island, the vast majority are being caught from between San Diego and Dana Point.
There are lots and lots of fish scattered over a wide area right now but the fleets are concentrated around a couple of key areas, like the 9 Mile Bank and the waters off Oceanside. These known spots are going to be getting a ton of fishing pressure this weekend, so I highly recommend using the temp chart on fishdope to find some similar water temps away from those areas and do a little scouting instead of running right to the fleet.
The yellowfin have been coming off kelp paddies, bird schools, sonar marks, dolphin schools and jumpers, but not a lot have been caught trolling. This means that you’re going to need to have everyone on your boat scanning the horizon while you’re traveling and have one guy watching the fish finder. If you find an area with any of these signs of fish, I’d slow down and take a look. If it looks really good, try investing a half hour in setting up a chumline of chunks and flylining some baits. If the fish are around, half an hour is more than enough time for them to find your baits and bite. If you don’t get bit, keep looking and repeat this process until you connect.
If you happen to find a paddy that’s already got another boat fishing it, please use some courtesy when approaching. Always keep your boat at idle when you are within a couple hundred yards of another boat that’s fishing. Also, you’ll want to wait for them to drift off the paddy and then set up ahead of it in such a way that you’ll drift past it without drifting over it. Once you set up for that drift and shut down, do not restart your motor until you’re well past the paddy. And whatever you do, don’t try to back up to the paddy or jog your throttle to stay next to it. Both of these are completely unnecessary and will make the guy that was originally on the paddy want to drive over and punch some sense into you. Trust me, I speak from experience.
While there’s less volume up north, there are still plenty of yellowfin and even some bluefin biting in LA County. I fished off the east end of Catalina over the weekend and went one for two on the better grade yellowfin. That same day Captain Larry Heron of Calico Hunter Charters fished north of Catalina and saw lots of yellowfin, but only managed to land one. The boats out of Ventura have been getting into some bluefin up that way too. So, if you’ve got the urge to explore, you might want to head north. If nothing else, you might stumble into a few of those marlin that have been biting up that way.
As I mentioned before, the yellowtail bite along the coast and at the islands has been incredible. There are fish scattered from the Mexican border to Ventura and there are only a few areas that are getting a lot of pressure. If I were wanting to fish yellows, I’d make a tank of mackerel (to avoid the hour long wait at the bait receiver) and slow troll them around fishy looking zones. Finding those zones is pretty easy right now. Just go anywhere that you’ve ever caught a yellowtail and there’s a good chance there will be fish biting there now. If you find one of those zones, don’t tell anybody and you might be able to get a few days on it without the crowds.
Finally, if you’re looking for something completely different to do, the calico bass are in their prime summertime bite mode right now. Captain Jimmy Decker fished Palos Verdes on Wednesday and reported excellent fishing with bass to 8-pounds. I know it’s not as exciting as tuna fishing but bass fishing can be a welcome change from waiting in bait lines or fighting crowds on the tuna grounds. I’ll be running over to San Clemente Island on Saturday to do just that and if I get lucky, I might run into a tuna or yellowtail while I’m at it. Wherever you’re planning to fish this weekend, remember that if it stops being fun for any reason, just drive away and keep looking.