I have an overnight trip with Tbird Sportfishing (above) heading out Saturday, September 19th. As that date approaches, I’ve been paying closer attention to what’s happening on the offshore fishing scene back in Southern California. It seemed like the fishing was pretty good on that catchable grade of bluefin for awhile. That trend has dropped off in recent days with many boats reporting seeing a lot of fish, but not finding schools willing to bite.
On the local scene, the water temperature has dropped, forcing boats to fall back on rockfishing. Definitely not a bad thing, but adjust your expectations and prepare accordingly.
The one bright spot seems to be Catalina Island. Boats fishing the island are enjoying all you want bonito fishing with daily shots at bruiser-sized yellowtail. The Enterprise, out of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach has been a consistent winner at the island. On the daily, I’m seeing them post pictures of some very nice yellows (right). Deckhand Connor Cassotta tells me all the yellows are coming on flylined sardines (on 30# line). If it was me, I would still bring my surface iron setup though. You never know when they may want to go and you don’t want to be wishing you had brought your jig stick when it happens. Plus you never know what you might encounter crossing back and forth to the island. Always a good idea to have something to make a long cast at breaking fish. You could be pleasantly surprised at what you might encounter at Catalina these days…
The key thing to remember is you don’t want to follow counts, but pay attention to signal. If captains are seeing fish, then book a trip and go. Walking up and buying a ticket the day of isn’t a thing these days anyway, so get your buddies together, book a date, and go.
Speaking of unusual offshore encounters…
I haven’t just been paying attention to offshore SoCal, but offshore up here in the Pacific Northwest as well. I will be going on my first albacore trip ever next week on the Umatilla II out of Newport, Oregon.
I wasn’t a regular angler when albacore fishing was a thing in SoCal. The reports I’m hearing is that they are still mostly too far offshore for anyone but the commercial boats. I’m hoping that changes by next week. One of the people I’ve reached out to for information has been Capt. RJ Hudson (left) of the New Seaforth. RJ broke his normal routine this summer and is working on a commercial albacore boat out of Westport, WA. I was shocked and surprised to see RJ post this picture a few days ago. I guess it’s less unusual than I thought to find yellowtail or even dorado up here. They’re not on kelp paddies, but if there’s some sort of floating debris (a log or whatever), they tend to congregate on them, just like they would on a kelp paddy. Something to keep an eye on when I’m helping the guys glass the water next week.
What about your pier salmon?
I finally got one! It’s been a huge grind, and it was starting to weigh heavily on my mind. I had to take a break last Friday (August 7th) and go hit my dock rockfishing spot on Whidbey Island. I jokingly thanked the shallow water rockfish there for making me feel like a competent angler again. As it turns out though, maybe taking a break was a good thing.
I wasn’t going to go Saturday morning, but it was raining when I got up. I figured the rain might dissuade some people from going and went to go check it out. I was right and put in a couple of hours at the rail. There was a brief flurry when several jacks and shakers caught. After it passed, many of us were talking about calling it a day. I decided I’d put in ten more casts and was on cast #3. My jig had just hit bottom when the angler to my right cast out. I was jigging back to the dock when he got picked up. He was fishing right next to me. He had the exact same jig on as I did. He got the bite and scored a nice 12-pound fish. I finished my ten casts and left.
The next morning I was planning to sleep in. Despite turning off my alarm, I still was up at 4:30. It was another drizzly day. I really don’t like going on Sundays because it’s a designated crabbing day. It’s bad enough dealing with the bottom draggers targeting flounder, but when they bring their crab pots too…oh boy! Still, I decided to give it another try. Because I was late, I ended up midway along the dock. As a courtesy, the bottom draggers stay on the right side of the dock, and the salmon jiggers occupy the left. I found myself next to a family fishing the bottom. I’d only been at it 30 minutes and the inept uncle of the group had already cast over and tangled up my line three times. I glared at him. “Chill bro. Everyone is here just to have a good time.”
“Yeah, sure. I’m having a great time with you tangling my line,” I thought to myself. The inner voice again…”How come the little girl can keep her line in front of her, but you keep tangling me?”
I gave myself ten more casts. I was halfway done when it happened. You know that feeling when you are grinding your yo-yo jig and it gets stopped? It’s every bit as good when you are jigging for salmon! My hook found a fish as I was lifting my rod tip up. For a second I thought I was snagged, but when it started heading away from the dock I realized I was bit. Long story short, this fish made it interesting when it decided to go right and made me fight through the entire section of bottom draggers and crab trappers. I let it tire itself out. One of the jiggers with a crab trap had followed me out to the far right end of the pier. He dropped it into the water and I guided the fish in. Success! It measured out just under 23-inches, so just barely legal. It was probably about a 9 or 10-pound fish or about half the size of the one that broke my rod. I didn’t care. The king/chinook limit went up to 2 fish per day last week, but I took my fish and went home. I’ll get back out and try to get more…and hopefully bigger fish, but it was nice to mark my first off the pier this year on my report card.
Persistence pays off. Good luck if you get out there.
MORNING UPDATE (Tuesday, August 11th)
Just got another one!