Last Saturday (May 27th), I got out on the sportboat, San Diego. Satisfied with knocking off my white seabass this year (2 ways, 2 locations…I feel good about that!), I felt like it was time to turn my attention to offshore. Last year I was happy to bag a limit of 80-pound fish on the Pacific Queen in August during that hot bite at Desperation Reef.
Still, long after the sashimi and poke were gone, hitting that century mark is something that’s lingered with me. I definitely want to put a 100-pound ‘local’ bluefin on my fishing resume like Joe Oyama’s yesterday on the San Diego (top).
So when we came back with 2 yellowtail on the boat for the trip (right), I was fine with it. I kind of had a hand in those two fish. I fired a surface iron on a kelp paddy from the bow and coaxed a follower out. Crewmember Shon Roberts spotted it from the crows nest, we threw bait on it and it resulted in the two fish. That was cool. No big deal not taking home fish personally. I’m just putting in my time.
Over the course of the week, the bite improved from non-existent to scratchy. On the boat’s Instagram, Capt. Ryan Bostian talked about a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and I noticed some sarcasm back about “You said that last year.”
Hey, I get it. Even at what I feel is a constrained pace (twice a month), I fish more than a lot of you have the opportunity to fish. I’m thankful. Ask me about keeping rat yellows, I mostly pass. Bummed about the trip outcome, no biggie. Whereas if you only get out a couple times per year, hey take a limit of smallish yellows, kill 5 calico bass, whatever the case may be. I get it.
Bottomline, I agree with Capt. Ryan that having the chance to catch one of these big fish is an “opportunity of a lifetime.” But at the same time, I get that for a lot of folks chasing trophies isn’t your cup of tea. So if you ask me, “Is now a good time to fish?”
My answer is…like it is with many things fishing related, “It depends.”
If you are trying to budget out your one or two offshore excursions for the year, I’d say wait and keep an eye on how things develop. I’d be encouraged to see more yellowfin tuna in the counts as they typically are easier to coax a bite from than bluefin. At the same time, remember that traditionally June isn’t the best month to fish offshore. It’d probably be a good idea for you to get your buddies together, settle on a date in say August, buy your tickets and look forward to getting out there in the height of the bite.
If (like me) you are worried that the presence of yellowfin may be a signal that the bluefin may not stick around. If you’re good with the high risk/high reward scenario that the current bluefin bite represents. If you have that aching need to add that trophy to your resume. Then by all means, get on a boat and put in your time. If it doesn’t happen, being out there and experiencing the thrill of the hunt, maybe learning something that gives you that much more of an edge next time around is its own reward.
I’m not necessarily all trophy hunting or 100% meat mission all the time. It changes. This weekend, the plan is to chase those big blues on the sportboat, Oceanside 95.
Two weeks from now, I may go outer Channel Islands and load up on rockfish and lingcod (one of my favorite fish to catch and eat).
Whatever you do…make time, make a plan, and go do it. Good luck if you get out there.