With the bluefin becoming scarce and the yellowfin showing more than they are going, the big news this week is the island yellowtail bite. While all of our local islands are holding fish there have been a couple of stand out bites. The first of those is at San Nicholas Island where overnight boats are scoring big numbers of quality fish.
Stand out scores for the week were on boats based out of 22nd Street Landing. On Wednesday the Outrider scored full limits of 110 fish for their 11 anglers and the Freedom managed 193 fish for their 36 passengers. With many of these fish exceeding the 20-pound mark, that is some pretty impressive yellowtail fishing.
The bad news about this bite is that the wind is going to be blowing across the outer Channel Islands all weekend and while Saturday morning may still be fishable for some of the bigger sportboats it’s forecast to blow 20 to 25 MPH from Saturday afternoon through Sunday. The most likely scenario is that the boats that had been fishing San Nicholas will duck inside to San Clemente Island, which is scheduled to be open over the weekend.
The forecast, as of Thursday morning, shows that it’s going to be windy at SCI as well, but it should probably be fishable at least on Saturday. While the yellowtail fishing isn’t as good there as it is at San Nicholas, there are still some bigger bluefin hanging around the old hot spot at Desperation Reef. This is far from being a sure thing but there have been a handful of fish caught by both sportboats and private boats in recent days when the island has been open to fish. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker was one of the boats that fished the island earlier this week and they landed one nice bluefin to go along with a handful of yellowtail.
The other hot yellowtail area has been at Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands.
I spoke with Captain Larry Heron of Calico Hunter Charters and he reported that there are still a mixed grade of fish biting at both islands. On a recent trip he reported his passengers going two for seven on the bigger fish and hooking a couple himself on 40# test that he couldn’t even slow down before they broke him off in the rocks. After leaving that area he found some more catchable side fish in the 12 to 15-pound range. The weather up there is going to be a problem on Sunday as well, but Captain Larry said that he’s got a few Saturday charter dates still available in October if you want to get in on the action.
Sportboats have been getting good scores on these yellows as well. Up until recently most of these fish have been caught on mackerel the passengers have been snagging on the way to the island. So if you’re planning a trip I’d suggest bringing a mackerel snagger and the appropriate tackle to fish a mackerel as bait once you get to the island.
The squid has shown up at Anacapa in the last few days and some of the boats have been making squid as bait. The yellows are reportedly still biting the mackerel along with the squid, so if you can’t find squid I wouldn’t sweat it too much. This area is scheduled to get hammered by the wind Sunday through early next week, so if you’re thinking about going Saturday is going to be your best bet. Please check the weather forecasts before heading out or booking a trip because it can change dramatically in a couple of days.
Not much has changed on the tuna front as there are still plenty of yellowfin around but getting them to bite can be tough. For every boat that is getting them there are a dozen other boats who aren’t. It’s really just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. John and Travis Curry went marlin fishing out of Dana Point on Sunday and after a morning spent not catching any marlin they caved and stopped on one of the schools of tuna they’d been seeing. That resulted in easy limits for the brothers.
Other days it’s not so easy. I spoke with Captain Gerry Mahieu who fished a couple days this week out of Dana and reported finding fish the first day but having a tough time getting them to bite anything with a hook in it. The next day he drove almost 150 miles round trip and never saw a tuna. The sportboats are suffering similar fates as boats are sitting and watching while other boats load up. These fish are mostly in the 10-pound range and it seems like the effort to results ratio is a little low to make this a worthwhile option.