If the last three years of incredible fishing have proved anything it’s that lunar cycles play a big role in fish behavior. It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote an article about the September full moon spurring what might have been the best big bluefin fishing Southern California anglers have ever seen. Well after a bit of a slump since then, the big fish bite came roaring back in the lead up to Wednesday night’s new moon.
Most sport boats and long range boats got shots at big bluefin this week and some capitalized on their opportunities. The picture above is aboard the Pacific Dawn who had three over 200-pounds over the weekend to go along with limits of quality yellowfin tuna. The big sportboat caught fish of the week came aboard the Ranger 85, the 345-pound fish being the biggest caught aboard a sportboat this year, second only to the 358-pound fish landed by Jay Krist and Chris Lilis in July. Speaking of Krist and Lilis, they fished on Wednesday and landed another giant bluefin, this one taping out at 355-pounds.
In other giant tuna news, Lawrance Quigley, owner of Fishworks Clothing, also fished Wednesday and boated another 300-pound fish. While these monsters are certainly standouts, multiple friends I’ve talked to caught fish from 125 to 270-pounds over the weekend and early this week. The bad news is that as of the time of this writing on Thursday, the wind is blowing on the tuna grounds and while it should lay down by the weekend, the bite will likely be backing off as we come off the new moon. I hope it’s not the case, but it seems like that’s the way things have been going lately.
The best yellowfin bite is currently happening for the 3/4-day and overnight boats fishing out of San Diego.
Boats getting on the right schools are experiencing one stop shopping for limits of small to medium-sized yellowfin with a side of skipjack and dorado. Private boaters are also getting in on the action. Captains Jimmy Decker and Gerry Mahieu ran trips out of San Diego on Sunday and scratched together a few fish in the morning. On their way home Decker reported finding a paddy that was holding fish just above the Coronados and both boats were able to limit out on fish to 30-pounds on Lucky Craft hardbaits while using sardines as chum. Once you find them, these yellowfin aren’t too picky as to what they’ll bite. The key is to keep enough of a chumline going to keep them around the boat. As always, chunked dead sardines work well as chum and can even be used as hook bait.
There are some school sized bluefin and larger yellowfin biting in Orange and LA County waters as well. I was fishing a marlin tournament over the weekend and saw several schools of yellowfin on dolphins and up foaming on bait balls off the east end of Catalina. These were a mix of fish from 10-pounds to 50 or 60-pounds. The Pursuit got into these bigger fish on Tueseday while running a 3/4-day trip out of 22nd Street Landing. The boat landed 65 of the larger yellowfin for their 20 passengers. Private boaters have been catching these fish as well and biting fish have been reported from Santa Barbara Island all the way down to the Mexican border. If I were heading out start by looking for the temp breaks and chlorophyll edges that aggregate baitfish. Once you get to the area you want to work, you’re going to look for dolphin, birds and other signs of life. As I said before, the weather should lay down for the weekend but definitely check the latest report before heading out.