In an attempt to expand our fishing coverage, BD Outdoors has added Joe Sarmiento to the editorial team. Joe will be writing two columns per week covering sport boat fishing in Southern California. His Tuesday column will wrap up what happened the previous weekend and share the best mid-week fishing options. On Friday’s he will cover what happened during the week and what to expect over the weekend. Make sure and look for Joe’s column today.
Like most of you, I’ve been a little frustrated that these tuna that are all over our local waters just haven’t been biting.
Every lunar cycle I’ve been expecting them to turn on and so far they haven’t. While this is a bummer, you have to remind yourself that we are still very early in the season and on a normal year, we’d still be a couple weeks away from fish coming within overnight range, much less being 5 miles from the harbor. The good news is that it seems like the fish are getting a little more cooperative every day, so this could bust loose at any time.
If you want to take a shot at catching tuna this weekend I highly recommend doing so, just remember to keep your expectations low and be ready to work hard to find biting fish. It can be done; it just needs patience and versatility. Starting down south, there are yellowfin to be caught south of the border. The problem is that there are also bluefin to be caught down there as well and if you’re going to work as hard all day to finally get a bite, it would suck if that bite came from a bluefin that you had to release.
There are plenty of mixed bluefin and yellowfin to be caught in US waters right now. The area around the 9-mile bank has been kicking out a mix of fish the last few days. The bluefin have mostly been smaller fish, but there have been some bigger yellowfin caught with fish up to 60-pounds reported. There are also a few dorado being seen in this zone.
The fish are scattered north all the way to the east end of Catalina and probably beyond. On Tuesday there was a report of bluefin seen inside Avalon Harbor. Maybe the days of the “leaping tuna” of Catalina Island are going to make a comeback. It’s almost enough to make me want to do a Charles Holder impression and go fish for them in a suit and top hat like they did back in the early 1900’s.
For boaters looking to get a shot at tuna, it comes down to covering water and finding the right school. You can launch anywhere from Long Beach to San Diego right now, head out in a random direction and have a good shot at finding some tuna. That’s the easy part. The hard part is getting those tuna to bite.
My friend Gerry Mahiue fished out of Dana Point on Tuesday and found several schools of bluefin tuna. He got two bites, both on a Shimano Colt Sniper, but only landed one of them. The fish he caught was a 50-pounder that put up a heck of a battle on bass gear and 20-pound line. Gerry reported seeing lots and lots of fish, but they just wouldn’t eat anything bigger than the Colt Sniper.
There are still some of those jumbo bluefin popping up from time to time and the Bongos III has been consistently catching them. This week they got a 126-pound fish and had another good one last week. The key for these guys has been hooking the fish on the right gear. If you’re out there and run into a school of jumbos, you need to fish the heavy gear. You probably won’t get bit, but if you drop down to 30-pound to get a bite, you’re probably not going to land it.
Regardless of where you’re fishing almost all of the tuna have been coming on jigs or live bait.
I’ve been hearing about a few fish here and there on the troll, but it almost doesn’t seem worth it. I think you’re better off just covering water quickly while looking than you would be dragging lures around.
The yellowtail are biting up and down our coast right now, with the best concentrations coming from LA County. Starting at the bottom and working up, boats fishing south of the border have been catching fish along the beach and at the Coronado Islands. These fish aren’t as big as the ones biting in Long Beach but they’re averaging larger than the ones at Catalina and San Clemente Island. From what I’ve heard the fish have been up and readily biting the surface iron.
The next concentration of non-kelp paddy yellows is the 150 area off of Long Beach, the fish have been moving from 100 to 200-feet of water on any given day, but have been biting every day. My friend Bobby Martinez fished out there Wednesday and Thursday and had easy fishing for big yellows both days. If you don’t have a boat of your own and would like to avoid the sportboat crowds, I’d get in touch with Benny Florentino or Jimmy Decker. Both of these guides have been on this bite daily and can take you and your friends out for a fun day without the crowds.
As I mentioned earlier, both San Clemente and Catalina Islands are producing fish, but they’ve been a mixed grade. Depending on the day and where you go you can go out and catch 3-pounders or 30-pounders. I’d make sure and consult Fishdope before your trip to find out where they’re catching the bigger fish.
Finally, there are still some yellows coming out of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Boats fishing Santa Cruz Island have been scoring some big yellows on live squid and a few fish on finbait or surface iron. I spoke with Captain Nick Tharp of El Tiburon Sportfishing and he found a squid bed off the Santa Barbara coast this week that produced yellowtail up to 32-pounds for him and his guests. Captain Nick just started offering trips on his custom 25-foot Anderson, so check out his website if you’re interested in booking a trip.
Finally, the calico bass are in their summer pattern and the big ones have been biting for private boaters fishing the coast and islands. I spoke with Abu/Garcia pro-staffer Chris Lilis, who fished Palos Verdes on Wednesday, and he reported some of the best big calico fishing he’s ever seen on the coast. Catalina is also kicking out some big bass. Kevin and Vince got into them good earlier this week on my old boat. You can read their report here.