It’s taken until the third week of October, but summer is finally ending on the Southern California coast. With the crazy season we’ve had so far I’m not going to make any predictions of things coming to an end, but I will say that fishing is in a transitional period. There have been some sporadic northwest winds blowing offshore over the last couple weeks and with another wind episode forecast for Sunday, it’s obvious that we are entering the fall weather pattern. This blow probably won’t be enough to end the season, but every time the wind blows out of the northwest it brings us closer and closer to the end. The good news is that we have another full moon coming up less than two weeks away and if this year’s previous full moons have been any indication, there should be more good fishing around the first week in November if the water temps remain stable.
While we’re waiting to see how the weather shakes out, let’s take a look at what’s biting in Southern California.
The big news this week is that the tuna fishing has been getting tough for sport boats out of San Diego. There are a combination of factors contributing to this including, lack of participation by anglers and over participation by the big dorado. In a nutshell, there aren’t a lot of boats getting off the dock because the general public is worn out from all of the good fishing we’ve had this year and the boats that are making it off the dock are having trouble getting away from the ravenous packs of 10 to 20-pound dorado that have moved into one day range of San Diego.
Private boaters have also been having success on the better grade dorado in both San Diego and Orange Counties. Bloodydecks member JKimble fished less than 10 miles from Point Loma earlier this week and went eight for ten on the bigger-grade dorado. There have also been scattered reports of dorado being caught all the way up to the east end of Catalina.
Boats getting out of that zone have been doing well, like the Chief did on a recent 2 ½-day trip that scored 330 yellowfin (limits), 60 big dorado and 2 wahoo. Other boats, fishing Cortes Bank, have been catching bluefin tuna and that bite should hold up through this wind. My prediction, based on history, is that the Cortes and Tanner Banks fishing should improve into next month.
The ¾-day boats fishing the Coronado Island are still getting big scores on yellowtail, but a lot of those fish are the “fun sized” ones and not the 20-pounders they were getting a few weeks ago. There are still some big fish to be caught for private boaters who know what they’re doing as Captain Duane Mellor on the Seasons has been proving with a steady stream of quality yellows coming from the islands over the last few weeks. If you’re heading out this weekend and looking for numbers of fish, I’d check out the Rockpile but if you want to catch a big one, I’d fish the islands proper.
Speaking of big yellows, the Sum Fun out of Dana Wharf had 54 of them on Wednesday’s trip. These are the same fish that have been biting off and on below Dana Point for the last few weeks. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether they’ll continue to bite, but I’d rank this area as a good choice for anyone looking to catch a big yellow.
The big yellows are also biting in Long Beach again, but the fish are getting hammered by boat pressure and it’s resulting in some very sporadic fishing. The yellows bit full speed on Monday, slowed down on Tuesday and all but disappeared by Wednesday due to boat pressure. I ran out there on Wednesday afternoon and marked lots of bait and some yellows where the fleet was fishing but never got a bite. We were lucky enough to find a bird school in another area and got a couple big ones to bite the surface iron, but the fish were moving fast and acting sketchy.
My friend Danny Mun fished on the Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing on Tuesday and reported catching fish on the yo-yo iron and getting followers, but no biters, on the surface iron. If you’re heading out on a sport boat, all of the captains recommend bringing heavy tackle (40 to 50-pound test) because these fish are all big and they are losing quite a few every day due to people hooking them on the wrong gear.
The yellowtail bite up at county line in Ventura is still going but has slowed down considerably. Boats getting there early have the best shot at yellows and there are some big halibut and seabass being caught as well. I spoke with Captain Larry Heron who recently fished the area and he reported a very random bite pattern where one boat will catch several fish and another boat sitting 50 yards away will get skunked.
The good news is that the rockfish are biting up that way so boats have something to target after the yellows stop biting.