As crazy and unpredictable as the fishing has been the last four years, a point of consistency has been the peak lunar cycles bringing the best offshore fishing and the June new moon was no different. Last week’s scratchy bluefin tuna bite started to get more consistent over the weekend and by Monday and Tuesday the bite improved dramatically with an overnight trip on the Liberty our of Fisherman’s Landing scoring 28 fish for their 25 anglers and the Pacific Queen‘s 1 1/2-day trip returning with 61 fish for 34 passengers. Though not as impressive numbers-wise, the score of the week came on Wednesday aboard the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing when their full day trip reported 7 bluefin tuna to 160-pounds for only 6 anglers. You can read a first person report from that trip here.
If you’re planning on heading out on a sport boat to try and catch some of these bluefin, having the right gear is of utmost importance. This report by Captain Taro Takeuchi, owner/operator of the Liberty, pretty much sums up what’ happening, “Today the conditions were ripe and the fish were abundant. We had three long “plunker” style drifts with several fish hooked at a time. When one of these trophy’s hits the deck, everything went right and it was meant to be. Unfortunately after many epic battles there were many heartbreaks. Fish chewing through the line, pulled hooks and break offs were just examples of the bad luck. To increase your chances of landing a big bluefin tuna you need to prepare yourself with the proper fishing tackle. 2-speed reels are necessary and should be matched up with proper weighted rods. The three basic rigs you’ll need to bring are as follows. A 40# fly line bait set up rigged with a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook. When the fish are deep you’ll want a 50 to 60# set up rigged with a rubber banded 4 to 8 ounce torpedo sinker and 2/0-3/0 circle hook. When fishing the flat fall, you’ll want to fish 60 to 80# line with a 160 to 250 gram jig rigged on a short leader of 130 to 200# test. If you don’t own 2-speed reels and you come fishing with us, Fisherman’s Landing does rent them!”
In other offshore news, there are now some yellowtail and yellowfin tuna being caught on the local San Diego banks. The yellowfin just showed up so I’m not sure of the volume of fish in the area but it looks like a good sign of things to come. Speaking of things to come, these fish seem to be moving up the line and should hopefully make their way into US waters soon. June Gloom has been making it tough to get an idea of what the water temps look like between the border and San Clemente Island but judging by the sliver of SST data that showed through a break in the clouds on Sunday, the water temps above the border look similar enough to those below it that I couldn’t imagine the fish won’t keep charging up the line. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for a full moon bluefin bite somewhere along the San Clemente ridge.
As for the rest of the Southern California Bight, this week’s Navionics Chart shows good fishing in a number of areas. Starting up north, there are still some yellowtail biting at Santa Rosa Island and there are seabass at Santa Cruz. Neither of these bites is wide open but the bass and rockfish are more than happy to cooperate when the other game fish don’t bite. The dirt clod is being its normal semi-stingy self by mostly not biting but there are enough yellows and seabass at the island to sucker you into making a trip there that will likely result in you getting skunked. Take my advice, it’s a trap. There are still plenty of yellows at San Clemente Island but they haven’t been biting all that well lately and by the sound of it, many of the ones that do bite are subsequently eaten by sea lions.
There has been a pretty consistent yellowtail bite happening at Catalina this week for both sport boats and private boaters when they manage to avoid one another. A Catalina yellowtail bite during the summer is prime gang bang territory and the boats that engage in them are paying the price. As an example, one of the 3/4-day boats had a good score on yellows earlier this week. That lead to the boat being beset by private boaters the next day and that resulted in a low fish count for all involved. That same day Captain Gerry Mahieu fished away from the gang bang and reported limits of yellowtail (20) on the surface iron for him and his client that day. There are enough yellowtail scattered around the island right now that you shouldn’t have to fish around other boats to get a shot at catching one.
Finally, the bass are biting along the coast from the Santa Monica Bay down to San Diego. I fished out of Newport Beach on Saturday and caught sand bass and calicos on deep water structure as well as calicos in tight to the beach. On Sunday I fished out of Long Beach and had similar results. The good news is that the deep water fish are starting to get their spawning colors and are gathering up in pre-spawn schools so if you find them you’ve got a good chance at catching a bunch. Have fun wherever you end up fishing this weekend and remember to just say no to gang bangs!