Bluefin Tuna Fishery
The big news earlier this week was that the Mexican government agreed to let sportfishing boats once again target bluefin tuna in Mexican waters. This verbal assent was supposed to be followed shortly by a written statement, but that hasn’t happened yet. SAC (Sportfishing Association of California) was instrumental in getting the ban lifted, but according to So Cal Salty they are now hedging their bets.
Yesterday, the SAC sent out a letter to all owners of member vessels advising that they had yet to receive official written notice of the lifting of the bluefin ban in Mexico. The letter advised members to release all bluefin caught in MX waters until further notice.
So as it stands, no one is all that sure of whether or not keeping bluefin in Mexican waters is allowed, but both sport and private boats are openly fishing them. This is not really all that big of a surprise as many boats continued to fish them even when they were closed. The reality is that given the expanse of the area that is holding fish, it would be impossible for the Mexican government to monitor all of it and enforce the rules.
So, in the meantime, if you were looking for a shot at a big bluefin tuna, I’d jump on an overnight boat out of San Diego and bring some heavy gear.
In other, less controversial news, there are fish biting up and down the coast, so let’s take a look at what’s happening. As has been the case over the last few weeks, the seabass, halibut and yellowtail are biting sporadically at the Channel Islands. Overnight trips continue to be your best bet for getting a shot at exotics, but the full and ¾-day boats are picking up a few stragglers as well. If you were going on a trip up that way, I’d hope for seabass and halibut, but expect calicos and rockfish.
The Aloha Spirit out of Channel Islands Sportfishing took an offshore exploratory trip on Wednesday. The boat ended up catching 7 yellowtail and 5 bonito, but Captain Shawn Steward reported good conditions and lots of life. The boat will be running open party trips next week, so call the landing if you’re interested giving it a shot.
The bite on the coast from Ventura down to Dana Point is basically garbage. Rockfish, sculpin and a few barracuda and bass is the name of the game. With the fish biting so well in other areas, I’d honestly not waste my time fishing locally right now.
Yellowtail continue to bite for the sport and private boaters fishing Catalina Island. The 3/4-day boats have been doing just fine there with sardines and have been averaging 20 to 40 fish per trip over the last few days. There are plenty of barracuda, bonito and calico bass biting there too, so there’s lots of action throughout the day.
I took my boat over to Catalina on Saturday with my friend Chris Oakes. We met up with Paul on the Pacific Carnage and got a scoop of squid, then set up on the east end backside for wide open yellowtail fishing. Most of our fish were in the 6 to 8 pound range, with a handful of 10 to 12 pounders, but we saw some of the other boats land fish in the 20 to 30 pound range. We called it quits an hour and a half after starting because our cooler was overflowing and were home well before noon. If you’re a private boater planning to fish Catalina, spend the money and get some squid from one of the light boats. The fish will eat fin bait, but it’s stupid on the squid right now.
The offshore bite in Orange County is off right now with most boats only scratching a few fish here and there, most of them being dorado. As a result, some of the overnight fleet out of LA and Long Beach Harbors have been fishing Catalina as well. The fishing has been excellent along the backside of the island for a mixed grade of yellowtail. While most are in the 8 to 10 pound range there are enough slugs in the mix to keep it interesting. You can expect most overnight boats from LA to Newport Beach to fish the island in the coming days; especially since there is some wind forecast offshore for the weekend.
San Diego is still the place to be when it comes to offshore fishing. There are fish as close as a few miles from the harbor, but the best bite remains south of the border. Yesterday’s 3/4-day trip on the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing had over 100 yellowfin tuna for its passengers and that has pretty much been par for the course. The overnight boats not targeting the tuna pens for bluefin are also putting up big scores of yellowfin tuna.