It’s been another week of offshore business as usual for SoCal anglers. The big news continues to be the bluefin that are biting along the backside of San Clemente Island. What’s different than last week is that boats are scoring more mixed grade fish like these caught aboard Sauerfish Charters. The biggest scores have been coming from nighttime flat fall bites but boats also had plenty of opportunities to throw poppers at mixed grade foamers this week.
The night bite remains the best chance for sport boat anglers to catch fish without needing to win the kite rotation lottery. On Tuesday overnight trips aboard the Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing and the Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker both had predawn scores in the dozens with several fish over 200-pounds caught. The problem with these overnight trips is that travel time to the island only gives anglers a short window to get bit. This was proven by Thursday’s trip aboard the Thunderbird reporting not finding any bluefin during the predawn bite window. If you want a legitimate shot at one of these tuna I recommend booking at least a 2-day trip so you’ll be able to get at least one full night of fishing in the zone.
In other news, wind is going to be a factor the next few days offshore. It won’t be enough to take any areas out of play (with the possible exception of San Nic or Cortes and Tanner) but it might make for uncomfortable runs for private boaters. As unreliable as the forecasts have been the last couple years, pay attention to what the weather is telling you on the water. If it’s windier than expected early in the morning it’s likely to be windier later in the day too. I know it sucks to cancel or shorten up a trip, but it beats getting your butt kicked throughout a long and horrible ride to the dock later.
Let’s work our way top to bottom on this week’s Navionics Chart. The yellowtail are biting for boats fishing Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands and, as you can see in this picture from the Gentleman out of CISCO’s, they’re a pretty good average grade. The fish are mostly being caught on live bait but I’m sure they’d be willing to bite the surface or yo-yo iron if you put your time in.
There were some yellowtail biting for SoCal anglers at San Nicholas Island but I’m pretty sure the wind is going to keep any boats away from there this weekend. Speaking of wind, it’s going to be blowing on the outer banks but both Cortes and Tanner are kicking out some 10-20-pound bluefin and some 20-40-pound yellows. Forecasts are for winds in the high teens to low twenties through next week out there so we might have to wait for the October Santa Ana’s to blow before that area becomes consistently fishable.
There are yellowtail biting on the front side of Clemente and at Catalina Island. This picture, for a recent 3/4-day trip aboard the Native Sun out of 22nd Street Landing shows the average grade of the yellows being caught. If you’re going on a trip to Catalina Island this weekend I’d make sure and have a fly-line rod rigged up for the crossing as kelp paddies in the channel are holding dorado.
There are also some yellowfin in the channel between Catalina and San Clemente Island but the seiners got on them this week and the bite suffered accordingly. Your best bet for non-bluefin offshore fishing is out of San Diego where boats are finding a mix of skipjack, yellowfin and dorado. While it’s still mostly skipjack and small yellowfin on the local banks, boats making longer runs are scoring some quality yellowfin tuna. In closing I’d like to mention that the wahoo are biting for boats fishing out of Cedros Island. That’s unusual but not unheard of, so I wouldn’t get too excited about it yet, but if these water temps hold for another month or more they might find their way farther north. Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to dream, right?