Just when it seemed as if the fat lady was going to sing at any moment, the offshore scene rebounded with not just yellowfin biting but bluefin being seen and caught in places other than San Clemente Island. While the fishing is better than it was last week, there’s no guarantee of how long it’s going to last. So if you want what will probably be your last shot at tuna this year I highly recommend going as soon as possible.
The bluefin are back
As has been the case over the last couple weeks, most of the fish are being caught in the waters off Orange County, so if you live up that way you don’t need to make the drive to San Diego to go fishing.
Boats out of Dana Wharf Sporfishing have been on the tuna all week and while each day is different regarding both the size of the fish and how well they are or aren’t willing to bite, they are seeing plenty of fish every trip. I recommend getting out on a weekday if possible as these sportboats usually end up being at the epicenter of the weekend warrior gang bangs and that can make for some frustrating fishing.
Private boaters are also seeing plenty of fish but getting them to bite can be another story. I spoke with Captains Jimmy Decker and Gerry Mahieu who both fished off Dana Point on Wednesday. The captains reported sharing the chumming duties on a spot of fish to stretch their bait a bit. Despite having fish up boiling around the boat and readily eating the chum, it was almost impossible to get the fish to bite anything with a hook in it. The boats combined to only hook three fish, all of which came on 15-pound fluorocarbon and a #4 hook. Of those, only one fish made it into the boat due to the light line. The third fish, which broke off after an hour and a half, was obviously one of the better grade yellowfin that have been in the area. The captains found the school under a pod of dolphin. Captain Mahieu reported that the tuna haven’t really been getting on the dolphin until later in the day. Both captains said that they will be fishing these tuna as long as they’re around and both have some limited charter availability during the week.
San Clemente Island is still kicking out some big bluefin for boats fishing live squid at Desperation reef.
This continues to be a hit and miss bite but Wednesday proved to be more hit than miss for several boats, including the Aztec who finished off their 1 1/2-day trip with 15 bluefin from 80 to an amazing 190-pounds and 3 yellowfin from 65 to 80-pounds. While this score is by far the stand out of the week, it does show that the big fish are still around and if they decide to bite in earnest things are going to get crazy. As usual, the island is going to be closed off and on due to naval activity so I would check their schedule before booking a trip. Also, if you are on a trip that scheduled to fish Clemente, I’d bring along some light gear for the yellowfin in case the Navy decides to kick you out even though the island is scheduled to be open. Private boats planning to fish the bluefin at Clemente absolutely need to get live squid somewhere before getting to the island. There may or may not be boats selling squid at Catalina this weekend, but you’re going to need to get the bait situation figured out ahead of time. According to a friend who fished earlier this week, the bluefin are not interested in frozen squid.
There are still some yellowtail being caught at the Channel Islands but the numbers have dropped significantly from last week. Sportboats fishing the islands have been splitting their time between looking for yellows and fishing rockfish. As is often the case this time of year, if you plan for rockfish and hope for yellowtail you should have a fun trip. Speaking of rockfish, I fished the coast above Santa Barbara on Sunday and the shallow water rockfish bite was fantastic. You can read my full report here.
One final word of caution is that the wind forecast graphic around Point Conception and the Channel Islands looks strange for Sunday and while it’s supposed to be calm it might get ugly quick so I’d keep a close eye on the weather before and during your trip. If you’re out and it starts to get a lot windier than forecast I’d err on the side of caution and call it a day.