If you thought last week’s wahoo report from Dana Point was strange, get ready for something crazy. Yesterday, Channel Islands Sportfishing had more yellowfin tuna in their counts than did Fisherman’s Landing or Point Loma Sportfishing. If that’s not enough for you; this week at least one long range boat, along with several San Diego overnight boats, were competing for tuna with the 3/4 day boats out of San Pedro and all within sight of Catalina Island.
In hopes of getting to the bottom of what’s going on, I spoke with Captain Jimmy Decker, who has been running charters almost daily out of Newport Beach. “The bulk of the yellowfin are in an area that stretches from the 277 to the west end of San Clemente Island and most of the fleet is fishing there.
There’s definitely something weird about making a drift off the backside of Catalina and looking over to see the New Lo-An fishing next to you.
Decker went on to explain what he’s seen happening over the last week. “It seems like the fish tuna are moving up into the area outside of Dana Point and then heading west. The fish that were on the 267 a week ago are now out by the Mackerel Bank at San Clemente Island. If these fish keep moving they’re going to swim out of our range. The good news is that the boats out of Dana found a new batch of fish on porpoise the other day close to home so there might be a second wave of fish moving in.”
If you’re interested in getting out on the water, Jimmy Decker said that he still has some dates available this month and that you can contact him through his website. Sport boat anglers have lots of options to take advantage of this bite with 3/4-day trips from Dana Point to San Pedro being the most affordable option. While overnight trips, on boats like the Thunderbird or the Freedom, are good choices if you’re looking to get more fishing time.
Speaking of the fishing out to the west, a couple of my friends ran out to the Cortes Bank on Monday and managed 10 bluefin tuna to 50-pounds and lost an estimated 100-pound class fish at color. All of their fish came on flylined mackerel. While the bank has been kicking out bigger bluefin for the last month, it hasn’t been getting much pressure from anyone but the long range boats; but with the fall season upon us, look for 1 1/2 day trips to start targeting the bank in coming weeks.
Another area that’s been kicking out fish for the northern boats is off the west end of Catalina Island. There are tuna scattered around this zone and boats are catching fish along the band of warm water that is extending north from the island. This band makes it all the way up to the Channel Islands, so there’s no reason the fish won’t continue in that direction. Another thing that’s worth keeping an eye on is the colder water outside the west end of San Clemente Island. If the fish that are currently heading west turn north to avoid that colder water, they will be funneled up into the area off the west end of Catalina. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, check out Thursday’s SST chart on www.fishdope.com.
The fishing around San Diego has been on the slow side the last couple of days, but the boats finding the right bunch have been loading up. For example, on Tuesday’s trip, the San Diego out of Seaforth Landing caught 7 yellowtail and 6 dorado for their 50 passengers. Wednesday was a different story as they got on the right school early and ended up with 135 yellowfin for the same amount of passengers.
The four and six pack fleet out of San Diego has been fairing better. Four of my friends chartered Seasons Sportfishing and Captain Duane Mellor found them one stop shopping for limits of tuna and dorado. As usual, the trick to catching fish is to drive away from the fleet and find a fresh school. Private boaters should steer away from other boats while looking for terns, jumpers or kelp paddies. There are so many fish scattered around our waters that there’s no reason to fish in a crowd.