As you might be able to tell by the smiling faces and big bluefin tuna, with the Coronado Islands in the background,the bluefin moved closer to home this week. This fish was one of eight caught aboard the Liberty on Tuesday. While the fishing is hit and miss, and most of the fish landed by the 3/4-day fleet have been around this size, the boats are regularly encountering the jumbos in the same area. On Thursday the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing reported, “When targeting bluefin, its all about keeping your fingers crossed and hoping you are on the boat on the right day. Yesterday the guys had a drift of a lifetime for a local boat. Today the only tuna they saw were the size of pickup trucks. We had 1 bite and were quickly humbled. A good day is one sweep of the sonar away.”
The 1 1/2-day trips are getting more consistent scores as the extra fishing time allows anglers to take advantage of predawn and post sunset bites that are sometimes the most productive. The bad news for anglers is that the bluefin are still being fairly picky about what they’re willing to bite and most bait fish are being hooked on 30# line, which makes for long battles and lots of lost fish. The fish are biting the flat fall in the dark, and sometimes when it’s light out, which allows for heavier gear and a much better chance of landing a big one. I haven’t kept close tabs on how many big ones have been caught but I know that the Chief landed one over 200-pounds recently. While the bluefin bite is the biggest news maker right now, it’s not the only game in town, so let’s go to this week’s Navionics chart and see what else is happening.
There are some 5-10-pound kelp paddy yellowtail being caught in the tuna zone, but I doubt that anyone is making a specific trip out there to target them. While the Coronado Islands haven’t gotten much coverage this week, it sounds like the yellowtail bite has picked back up. The Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished the islands on Wednesday and caught 13 yellows. If you’re heading out to the tuna grounds this weekend on your own boat and decide to use the Coronado yellowtail bite as a fall back plan, make sure and have all of your paperwork in order. If you’re unsure of what you’ll need to legally fish the islands, you can read about it in this article by Gary Graham that includes links on where to purchase everything online.
The yellowtail are also biting at San Clemente Island and the Thunderbird out of Newport Landing has been on them all week. The daily scores have varied due to the bite being very dependent on conditions, but on Thursday the boat scored 93 yellowtail. This is classic spring fishing and San Clemente and the fish are biting fly-lined baits, surface iron and yo-yo jigs. If you want to get in on the action, I’d recommend trying to go during the week if at all possible because there will be less boat traffic to contend with.
A recent development is that the yellowtail have started biting for boats fishing along the beach in Orange County. In hopes of not getting anyone upset by putting out too much info about this developing bite, I’m not going to tell you where it’s happening, but if you think back on where the yellows have been caught locally the last couple years, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. Hopefully this bite will continue for a few days and get the 1/2-day boats to break out of rockfish mode.
Summer is almost here and I’ve got high hopes that the barracuda will make a showing along the coast this year.
The seabass bite at the Channel Islands has gotten pretty stingy the last few days but boats are catching some scattered fish at both Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. This bite may rebound as we’re going into the new moon but if you’re heading out to the Channel Islands, I’d expect to catch mostly rockfish and bass. The weather looks a little breezy across the outer islands on Saturday but not to the point of being unfishable and we’ve got good weather forecast along the beach and on the tuna grounds, so get out there and catch some fish!