FishingFishing Reports

Jumbo Bluefin Bite in U.S. Waters

I’ve gotten used to crazy things happening on the fishing scene over the last year, but I was still surprised by the call I received on my way home from Catalina on Monday. It was my friend Jimmy Decker calling to tell me that a yacht was on its way to the Balboa Angling Club to weigh a couple of 100-pound bluefin they’d gotten on a double jig strike in U.S. waters. Decker went on to say that they’d gotten the fish close to home and that he was thinking about running out there the next day to take a look.

I had to turn him down because I was already scheduled to go on a 3/4-day trip on the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing the next day. By the time I’d driven to the landing the next morning, I’d convinced myself those big tuna were a fluke and felt better about not jumping on Decker’s boat. Well, the trip I was on took a weird turn around mid-day when Captain Ryan Bostian decided to take a look offshore and we found some bluefin of our own. This being a yellowtail trip, everyone was severely under gunned for the grade of fish we encountered and the boat only landed 3 of the 15 or so tuna hooked, but the biggest taped at 123-pounds.

Sitting in traffic on the way home, I checked and saw that the Joanna had gotten a 121-pound bluefin in a different area the same day and several 50-pound class yellowfin to go with it. That same day, several private boats out of Dana Point scored fish as well.

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not this bite was a fluke or will develop into anything more than a pick on big fish. That being said, I just heard a report from the Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker this morning (Thursday) saying that they’ve already got three bluefin on the boat and are seeing bigger fish blowing out in the distance. With good weather forecast for this weekend, the fishing possibilities are endless.

In other news, the Mexican government announced yesterday that all passengers fishing within 12 miles of the beach will be required to carry a valid passport.

This area includes the Coronado Islands, so 3/4-day boats out of San Diego will be running offshore trips in U.S. waters until further notice. If you’re a private boater planning the fish the Coronado Islands, make sure that all of your guests bring their passport as I can guarantee the Mexican navy will be there checking boats this weekend.

Speaking of the Coronados, there is an incredible amount of yellowtail cruising around in deep water off North Island. The bad news is that this fish is keyed in on micro-bait and can be tough to catch. You can get the occasional fish to commit to the surface iron, but they are biting the live bait a lot better. These are mostly all good-sized fish, from 12 to 20-pounds with the occasional 25-30-pounder in the mix.

Private boaters lacking a passport but wanting to catch yellowtail, can look for kelp paddies from the border to Catalina Island. Not all of them are holding, but the ones that are have been kicking out 20-30-pound fish. Sardines and mackerel have been the baits of choice. The next area of biting yellows on the rockfish grounds outside of Long Beach. This area has been getting a ton of boat pressure, but you can still catch fish if you’re strategic about how you fish it. Chris Oakes and I ran out there on Saturday morning and found some bird schools away from the fleet that produced five nice fish for us on the surface iron before the other boats got on us. With a 20-30-pound average, five fish was plenty so we left the area and let the fleet fight over the scraps.

The sportboats have been getting good scores on these yellows as well and the Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing remains one of the high liners. They managed 27 fish on Wednesday and reported heavy casualties. With as many as 8 fish going at a time on their best stop, that’s not a surprise.

As I mentioned earlier, I ran to Catalina on Monday and looped the entire backside of the island for not much. The water temps were down at around 62 and other than marking some seabass while fishing calicos; the island was pretty much deserted. The seabass are biting a little for the boats that can make squid and the Ultra out of 22nd Street Landing had 7 big ones on Wednesday’s trip. They reported that they could have had limits but for the sealions. 3/4-day boats are still scoring yellows and bass on the front side of the island but as we get into summer those front side areas get really crowded on weekends.

There are still rockfish to be caught in the Santa Monica Bay and up at the Channel Islands, but with everything else that’s happening I’d skip it. I’m not sure what I’m going to be reporting on next week, but I’m excited to see how the weekend pans out. Get out there and catch some fish!

Erik Landesfeind
Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California an...