Last week, I talked about how 3 of our most prized gamefish: yellowtail, bluefin tuna and white seabass were all in play.
Let’s get this out of the way early…I totally whiffed on seabass.
If you bought a ticket and headed up north, I’m sorry. That’s how it goes with the ghost. There were a fish or two here and there. The Aloha Spirit got 2 on Thursday (right), but the big bite, be it outer islands or within full day boat range, didn’t happen last week.
This is the reason why when it was good, I dropped what I was doing and went. Same thing happened last year, it was good for a week or so, then POOF! It ended and didn’t materialize again (at least up in the Channel Islands). Will they re-emerge? TBD. I remember a few years back, I went on the Pacific Islander EXPECTING a seabass trip. We tried early, but they didn’t go. I came back the following weekend with NO EXPECTATIONS. When the boat stopped and everyone rushed to get up top, I went back to sleep. I was re-awakened by crewmember Bryan Duncan, “Joe, you want to get up and start fishing now!” I sleepily wandered up top, grabbed my high dropper loop setup, pinned on a squid and dropped in. As soon as I hit bottom, I was bit. In a flurry of activity that still feels like a dream today, I had my 3 fish limit (still 1 fish limit until mid-June) in just 30 minutes. Expectations are a funny thing that way.
Bluefin and yellowtail provided better fishing news for the week.
I mentioned in last week’s article how the San Diego and Liberty were heading offshore. Talk about highs and lows. One day they get ’em, the next day they skunk. Bluefin being bluefin, that’s just the way it goes.
The experience of the full day boats was mimicked on the longer trips. The Pacific Queen got their first cow of the season on Thursday (left). This beast taped out at a whopping 260-pounds! It wasn’t one of those trips where one lucky angler got the big fish while the rest watched either. They ended up with 60 fish (limits!) for 30 anglers. For their 1.5 day trip returning Sunday morning, they reported 8 yellowtail. That’s bluefin fishing. The opportunities are definitely there, but manage your expectations.
The yellows were more cooperative. My buddy Richie Landerer rode the Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing this weekend. They fished Clemente and boated 44 yellows and 38 bonito for 35 anglers. At one point, fish were boiling all around the boat. Richie reported that anglers were getting bit on the stern flylining sardines. Richie avoided the mayhem and scored 2 on the bow yo-yo-ing a 7x Jr heavy (below). Other boats fishing the islands reported similar counts.
I wrote at the beginning of the season that one of the things I was looking forward to was fishing for lingcod at San Nicolas Island where the depth limit was lowered from 25 to 40 fathoms. My reasoning was that there was unfished territory that had to be holding some big lingcod. I was a little disappointed to not see it come to pass at the beginning of rockfish season. Overall this year, the lingcod fishing has been pretty tough. I still have yet to get my first one of the season.
Lately though, Capt. Jeff Villapando of the Eldorado has quietly been putting together ling limits on almost every trip. I had a chance to catch up with Jeff and he told me it just took some time to sort out the new spots and how to fish them. It’s looking like Jeff has gotten them dialed in now. After a brief changeup where they fished yellows at Clemente, The Eldo is back at San Nic. If you’re looking for a more consistent trip, then you may want to give this one a look.
Lots of great fishing options for Southern California anglers. Get out there and enjoy them. Good luck if you get out there.