Well, I’ve finally been paroled from my sentence in the hinterlands of New York and I’m happy to report that the bluefin bite appears to be right where I left it a couple weeks ago. Looking back over last week’s reports, it seems that the yellowfin tuna started biting on the same day I’d been stalked by a menacing (and potentially rabid) chipmunk while wandering through the woods in search of my misplaced rental. You’d be surprised how quickly a day trip to the local strip mine can go wrong if you don’t remember where you parked.
My vacation woes aside, the fishing has been pretty good this week and I can’t imagine any reason that it shouldn’t be as good or better this weekend. So let’s take a look at the Navionics Chart and see where are best fishing options are.
Starting up north the seabass and yellowtail are biting at the Channel Islands. Most of the seabass scores have come for overnight boats fishing Santa Rosa Island so if you want a shot at one I’d suggest booking your trip accordingly. The seabass counts have been down this week but they could pop back up at any time. The boats fishing Santa Cruz Island are getting some good scores on mixed grade yellows. This is a mix of fish from 5 to 15-pounds with a few stand outs and individual boat scores range from a half dozen to over 100 fish depending on the day.
The seabass and yellowtail are also biting at San Nicholas Island for the few boats fishing there. The last boat to fish there was the Fortune out of 22nd Street Landing who landed 2 yellows and 15 white seabass for their 1 1/2-day trip on Tuesday. Rumor has it that there might be some fish biting at the dirt clod as well but I’d rather fend off rabid chipmunks than make that run.
This photo is from a trip aboard the Freedom earlier in the week when they had 50 seabass for 38 anglers. San Clemente Island continues to sort of bite but it’s been hit and miss. There are some yellows and seabass being caught but the only consistent action has been on calico bass.
Catalina Island is still kicking out some yellows, like these caught earlier this week aboard the Triton, but the overwhelming amount of anchovy at the island right can make for tough fishing at times. The bigger yellows are coming from the west end of the island and the bass are biting along the front and back but are also affected by the overabundance of anchovy.
Not much has changed along the coast in the last week except for a brief bite on big yellowtail in the Santa Monica Bay. The barracuda are still biting on the Horseshoe Kelp with some days being better than others. Other than that it’s mostly bass up and down the beach with calicos biting in the kelp and sand bass biting on the submerged structure spots. The yellowtail bite that had been raging at the Coronado Island for the last month has been hampered by dirty water and most of the full day boats have ventured offshore.
Let’s talk tuna. The yellowfin have moved into 3/4-day range of San Diego and the boats have been catching them along with bluefin tuna that are in the same zone. These fish are keyed in on anchovies and are coming up as foamers which gives private boaters a distinct advantage over sport boats when targeting them. This area being close to home and it being the middle of summer, I can guarantee you it’s going to be a big enough mess over the weekend that I highly recommend implementing gang bang avoidance measures. There’s plenty of good water around and tuna are being seen from San Diego to San Clemente Island so check your SST and Chlorophyll charts and find some water you can have to yourself.
In closing I’d like to talk about the big bluefin that boats have been catching. if you want to catch a big bluefin your best bet continues to be to charter a 4-pack boat for yourself or yourself and a buddy. If it were me, I wouldn’t even take a buddy because chances are you’re going to get zero to one shots at a big fish in a day and it sucks for the guy not on the rod at the time that the bite comes.
There are also several sport boats that are consistently catching big bluefin and they have their programs dialed in enough that they are getting some bigger scores on a regular basis. If you want a shot at a big one I recommend trying the Pacific Queen, the New Lo-An or the Aztec. If you’re going on any of these boats you need the right tackle and if you’re unsure of whether your tackle is appropriate, it probably isn’t. My recommendation is to get a recommendation from the landing on what to bring and renting it if you don’t already have it.
One of the biggest hindrances to a boat catching these big fish is having someone hook one on the wrong tackle. Some days the tuna will stay around the boat so its not a big deal if someone hooks one on the wrong gear. If the schools aren’t sticking to the boat, one fish hooked on the wrong gear can waste hours of fishing time for the rest of the passengers. These big fish trips are a great opportunity to do some big game fishing on a budget, but I recommend walking on the boat with the understanding that it’s likely you won’t catch a fish. If you can make peace with that before heading out you’re likely to have a fun and exciting trip.