This week’s tuna fishing was tougher than it’s been but as far as November tuna bites go, this one is still pretty damn good. The best bet continues to be the backside of San Clemente Island, where the 30-pound class tuna are biting for boats when the Navy lets them fish there. If you’re planning a tuna trip, I highly recommend checking the island’s website to make sure the east end backside is open on the day you plan to go. If it’s not, you’re going to have extremely limited tuna fishing options.
The only other tuna game in town is happening on the inner banks off Orange County. I spoke with Captain Jimmy Decker, who ran a trip on Tuesday, and he reported finding several spots of fish but only getting one of them to go. That worked out fine as his clients both caught a fish off that school. Decker said the sea conditions were garbage early but cleaned up mid-day and were nice when he ran home at 1:00 p.m. There hasn’t been too much weekday coverage in that zone, but there will likely be plenty of boats out there this weekend so I recommend trying to get off on your own and look for dolphins as they’ve been holding the biting fish lately. If you’re interested in getting one last shot at these fish, Decker said he has a couple openings this coming week and you can contact him through his website.
Rockfish have been on the menu for everyone not fishing tuna this week, with a side of yellowtail in a couple areas. Your best bet for yellowtail continues to be Santa Cruz Island. This is very hit and miss fishing but on the days the fish bite, boats are getting decent numbers of quality yellows. Channel Island Sportfishing has a variety of 3/4-day and full day trips available this weekend, so I’d give them a call and find out which boats will be attempting to target yellowtail.
There are also some yellowtail biting at Catalina Island but they are small for the most part and aren’t really worth the effort. I’m sure there are still some yellows to be caught at Santa Barbara Island as well, but the island hasn’t gotten much attention in the last few weeks. San Clemente Island is also holding some yellows and some overnight boats have been targeting them before heading out to look for tuna.
With good weather forecast for the weekend private boaters will have plenty of fishing options as well.
Despite there being less fishing pressure at this time of year, the popular areas will likely be crowded this weekend. So, unless you’re dying to catch one last tuna, I’d recommend trying something different. If you’re looking for gamefish, I’d make a run to one of the islands and look for yellowtail, but I’d avoid the crowded zone at Santa Cruz.
I’ve had my fill of gamefish for the year so I’ll be headed up to the Channel Islands to hopefully fill what little space I have in my freezer with some shallow water rockfish fillets. If you’re not into bottom fishing, there are plenty of bass to be caught along the coast and at the islands. The fishing isn’t exactly red hot, it is November after all, but the few friends I’ve talked to that fished this week reported decent calico fishing at both Palos Verdes and Catalina Island.