It’s a great time to be a bluefin tuna in Southern California. There’s plenty of warm and clean water, miles and miles of delicious bait balls, birds, dolphins and whales to interact with, lots of boats driving around and shoveling even more delicious bait onto your plate and very little chance of having any negative interaction with an angler’s line. Just swim around, gorging yourself on bait fish, and giving the fin to all those silly humans wasting their time and money to drive out to the middle of the ocean to watch you eat.
My friend Craig Bark made a trip down from Central California to go on a two day trip aboard the Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Landing over the weekend and his report pretty much summed up almost every single trip on every single sport boat in the last few weeks. “Spent the entire trip fishing west of the Coronados and and there were huge schools of bluefin and yellowfin tuna all over the place. Lots of foamers, lots of bird activity, but very few fish willing to bite. There was tiny bait everywhere, which seemed to be what they were keyed in on. Fished as light as 15# and 20# test for no bites. There were fish under every bird school but the only two bites we got the entire trip were on the kite. One came off and the other weighed 114-pounds.”
Basically, there are lots and lots of fish around but they are choosing to be jerks.
The fish that are being caught are often good ones. The other day the Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing caught 3 tuna on their 3/4-day trip and two of them were 190-pounders. With fish that size in 3/4-day range I’d hate to think what would happen if they actually decided to start biting. Can you imagine? Pull up on a spot, have 35 guys drop back and end up with 20 or more 100 to 200-pound fish hanging? That wouldn’t just be a mess, it would be a train wreck. I’d still love to see it happen and if these fish stick around and eat up all of this bait it just might happen. So, if you’re headed out on a 3/4-day or longer trip out of San Diego do yourself a favor and bring at least one 80# set up that you’d be confident using to pull on a giant tuna if you get lucky enough to hook one.
The good news for anglers is that the rest of the fish along our coast are biting a lot better than the tuna. I just spoke with Captain Gerry Mahieu who is bass fishing today (Thursday) with Bassmaster Pro Aaron Martens and his daughter Jordan. So far they’ve landed two big white seabass, the first one, a 50-pound fish, ate a weedless swimbait Aaron was fishing for calicos and the second, a 65-pounder, ate a flylined spanish mackerel. As I was talking to Gerry he had another big fish chase his spanish mackerel back to the boat but not bite it. He reported seeing multiple big fish free swimming around the boat. Pretty cool to see that much action happening in the middle of the day. Gerry also reported good bass fishing today as well as early this week.
Finally, the barracuda, bass and a few quality yellows are biting for the boats fishing locally out of Long Beach. On Wednesday the Enterprise out of Pierpoint Landing caught limits of sand bass for their 29 anglers. That may not seem like that big of a deal but I honestly can’t remember the last time the sand bass bit well enough to produce limits for that many people. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is a sign that the pre-spawn migratory sand bass are starting to arrive on our local reefs and hard bottom areas. It’s probably just wishful thinking but I’m holding out hope.