Yellow Dominates SoCal Fish Counts
With the irregular weather patterns we’ve suffered through for much of the Spring having finally straightened themselves out, the return to June Gloom followed by afternoon west winds seem to have straightened the fishing out as well according to the SoCal fish counts. With seabass and yellows biting at the islands, barracuda finally starting to show along the coast and the first kelp paddy yellows showing up in Orange County, it looks like summer fishing has finally arrived. While there is still some wind blowing on the outer Channel Islands, most areas along our coast should be both sport boat and private boat friendly this weekend so let’s take a look at what’s biting.
Working from north to south, the big news at the Channel Islands is the seabass bite happening on the backside of Santa Cruz. Boats had good some good scores earlier this week with a couple reporting limits but the fishing has been hit and miss in the last few days. According to reports, there are a lot of red crab and the volume of said crabs on any given day has an impact on the fishing. There are also a few yellowtail in the mix in the area. Exotics aside there has been good rockfish and bass fishing at the islands.
Between the wind and the good fishing at other islands, no one has been to San Nicholas Island lately but I’d imagine the rockfish are biting and there’s still a shot at yellowtail. Speaking of yellowtail, Captain Gerry Mahieu took a group of clients to the Dirt Clod on Sunday for a rockfish jigging trip. His clients managed limits of quality rockfish and one 30-pound yellowtail (pictured at the top of this column) caught using the Slow Pitch Jigging style. There have also been rumors of seabass caught there last week but I haven’t bothered to confirm them due to my continuing boycott of the island.
The yellows are biting at both Catalina and San Clemente Islands, but the latter has been seeing the best action. Boats are fishing the front side of the island and finding schools of cooperative yellows that fall into two basic size categories, under 10-pounds and 15 to 30-pounds. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker has been on these fish all week and has had consistent scores of 30 to 60 fish per trip. Another interesting note is that there are some bluefin at the island and one was speared by a BD member last week, you can read his full report here. No one has caught one on rod and reel yet but that may change soon.
There are some fun-sized yellowtail being seen and caught off paddies below Catalina. While this is a good sign of things to come, the diminutive size and scarcity of these yellows doesn’t really make them worth targeting. The local offshore bite has dried up for the San Diego 3/4-day fleet and boats have been fishing yellows at the Coronados. The bite has been hit and miss this week with scores of 100 fish on some of the good days and low teens on the bad. Even on the slow days captains are reporting plenty of opportunities for anglers who are good at fly-lining a sardine or throwing the surface iron.
The bluefin are still biting south of San Diego but they are far. Some 1 1/2-day boats are making the very long run to catch limits of fish that are averaging in the 30-pound class. There are still some bigger fish, like the one pictured above, in the mix but they are the exception and certainly not the rule. As I mentioned, these fish are far, like 2/3 of the way to Guadalupe Island far. If you decide to get on one of these trips expect at least a 15 to 16 hour boat ride each way. Doing the math, if the boat leaves at 8:00 p.m. you probably aren’t going to be in the bite zone until noon. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of fishing time. If you want to catch a bluefin right now, I’d recommend looking for a 2 or 2 1/2-day trip. As I write this on Thursday morning, a spotter plane reported finding a new area of bluefin closer to home so you may want to check Fishdope or Friday’s SoCal fish counts from the landings to see if anyone caught them.