Make no mistake about it; this is probably to be the busiest weekend we’ve seen on the water this year. While this sucks for obvious reasons, the good news is that there are enough fish biting in enough places that you’ve got a good chance of finding fish away from the crowds. Rather than break this week’s report down by location, I’m going to break it down by species. So, let’s take a look at what’s biting in Southern California.
There are both bluefin and yellowfin tuna scattered along the coast from Mexican waters to Catalina Island and probably beyond.
That being said, these tuna have been proving fairly hard to catch lately but that may be changing. At the time of this writing on Thursday afternoon, over night boats fishing the outer banks are reporting good bluefin fishing with several boats passing the fifty fish mark. Closer to home, the Pronto just reported in with limits of yellowtail and fifty yellowfin for 12 anglers today. For more info on those bites, you’ll want to check out Joe Sarmiento‘s column.
Private boaters have also been catching tuna and most of that action has been below Dana Point. Over the last few days the bulk of the bluefin have been coming from close to shore. Captain Jimmy Decker went one for two on bluefin and had several yellows while fishing ten miles offshore between Dana and Oceanside on Tuesday. He reported several other boats in the same zone getting scores as well.
There has been a mix of bluefin and yellowfin between Oceanside and the Mexican border. Private boaters have been catching most of these fish one of two ways. If the fish are up, a chrome Tady 45 cast into the boils has been deadly. When the fish are deep boats have been doing well drifting and flylining sardines while chumming chunked bait. On some days these plunker bites have been producing multiple fish for the boats that are willing to put in the time.
Further out, the yellowfin tuna are biting along and below the border on the not-so outer banks.
Most of these fish are being caught 20 to 30 miles off the beach and if today is any indication, this bite should only improve after last night’s full moon. A lot of these fish are coming on cedar plugs and Rapala lures being trolled with dolphin or through areas that are showing signs of bird life. These fish will normally respond well to chum and flylined baits once you find them, so that’s probably your best bet for putting some fish in the boat.
The yellowtail are pretty much biting everywhere, but some areas are producing more fish than others. The Coronado Islands are kicking out big scores for the 3/4-day fleet, but the passport requirement is keeping most private boats away. So if you were looking to get away from the crowds and have all the required paperwork in order, I’d recommend a trip to the islands this weekend. From the reports I’ve heard, the fish are biting the surface iron well, so it sounds like pretty fun fishing.
There are yellowtail under patties all over the coast right now, but you need to find the right paddy to get bit. The last few days the hot ticket has been to find paddies with birds on them. These have been producing 20 to 30-pound yellowtail. Earlier this week, the Bongos III found a magic paddy and left them biting after they caught 30 yellows for their three passengers.
The 150 area is still kicking out yellows but the bite has slowed considerably. The average sport boat score is a dozen fish or less and skiffs are reporting only getting a few shots per day. While the action on the coast has slowed, the yellowtail bite at Catalina has gotten hot. The only problem is that there’s a real mix of fish, from 2-pounds to 30, so you’re going to need to find the right ones.
If I were heading across this weekend, I’d get some live squid from Tom on the Pacific Carnage. He will be anchored up in front of Avalon all weekend and when I spoke to him this morning he said that he’s got plenty of squid and you can call him on Channel 11. Once I’d gotten that squid, I’d take it around the east end and fish the backside of the island. There are yellows scattered from the V’s all the way to the west end, so look for conditions and give it a try. Unlike the mostly smaller fish on the front side, the ones on the back are mostly larger and there are plenty of 15 to 30-pound fish to be caught.
While they haven’t gotten much attention lately, there are seabass to be caught. I spoke with Captain Brandon Hayward, who recently broke the radio silence he’d been under for the last 11 weeks. Last week the owner of onemancharters.com wrapped up his April to June white seabass season. “The fishing has been different due to a lack of squid. I haven’t seen a local squid since last August, so I did my fishing with mackerel and sardines.” He said the key to success was paying attention to tides, how the fish were transitioning into zones, and figuring out how to fish seabass without squid. Despite the change in tactics, he reported maintaining his 70% success rate for the fourth year in a row. If you’re interested in learning more about seabass fishing or just want to go catch a big one, you better act soon because Hayward said that next year’s calendar is already filling up.