Socal Offshore Beat
The September full moon came and went earlier this week, and is almost always the case, the fishing changed along with it. The big bluefin that had been biting before the wind blew last week have gone somewhat MIA but have been replaced by biting 20 to 100-pound fish. Along with the smaller grade bluefin, the bigger yellowfin are biting better than before. Throw in close to a hundred miles of biting bonito along the coast and that pretty much sums up our latest lunar cycle for SoCal offshore.
Let’s go to the Navionics Chart for a bigger picture of your weekend fishing options. Rockfish continue to be the main draw for sport boats fishing the Channel Islands but the yellowtail bite can kick back into gear at any time. There have also been some talk about big bluefin up around Santa Rosa Island and while I haven’t heard of any confirmed catches, I wouldn’t be surprised if the fish were up there too.
Heading outside, boats fishing Tanner and Cortes Banks are still scoring big yellowfin and small to medium sized bluefin tuna. The weather forecast looks decent out that way for the next few days so I would imagine that the 1 1/2 or 2-day boats out of LA and Orange County landings will probably be fishing there. There are still some big bluefin being seen and sometimes caught on the backside of San Clemente Island but it’s been slow overall.
The yellowtail are biting along the front side of San Clemente Island and there are also some 50 to 70-pound bluefin biting in the channel between the islands. These fish are scattered around as far as the dirt clod so you might have to drive around a bit to find them. If you’re looking for fish, spots of sheerwaters sitting on the water is a good indicator. If you find fish that will mark but not come up and bite, I’d babysit them for a while to see if they’ll pop up and bite. Poppers have been the hot ticket for these fish.
The bigger yellowfin, like this one caught by my friend Captain Chris Smith, popped up again this week and a few boats got good scores on them. Captain Gerry Mahieu scored on the big yellowfin again this week. He reported that after spending a fruitless night targeting big bluefin at Clemente, he ran off the island and caught limits of yellowfin from 20 to a whopping 76-pounds on poppers. There are yellowfin scattered from Catalina Island to well below the Mexican border right now but certain areas have higher concentrations than others. Since yellowfin are clean and warm water freaks, I’d rule out any areas of off color or colder water. They also like to eat a lot so I’d look for hard temp or chlorophyll breaks that might aggregate bait. Dolphins have also been holding yellowfin. Dolphin that are holding tuna will usually have birds with them. Something that I’ve noticed (and it may be coincidence) is that dolphin that have tuna under them tend to beat their tails on the water more than those that don’t. If you find a spot of dolphin that are machine gun slamming their tails down into the water, there are usually tuna below them.
Bonito and a side of yellowtail is the big news along the coast and they’re being caught from the Santa Monica Bay to San Diego. This is the biggest spread of biting bonito that I can remember although I have vague recollections of similar fishing in 1987 or 88, but I’m too lazy to research it. Anyway, the bonito are good size and really biting well in several areas. These fish are lots of fun on light tackle and excellent table fare if immediately bled and iced.
Finally, the Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Landing caught a wahoo on their three day trip over the weekend. While one fish, caught way south of the border, doesn’t mean there’s going to be more, but it does mean that the fish have continued creeping up the line and keeps hope alive that they may eventually make their way into Southern California waters again.
Get much more fishing info from Erik Landesfeind.