I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing the tuna bite this week as not much has changed since I wrote last weeks column. That being said, there is one thing that bears repeating. In my column from September 12th, Captain Jimmy Decker talked about how the yellowfin off the Orange County coast were moving west each day. Well, that westward progress seems to have been partially blocked by the band of cold water that’s been sitting off the west end of San Clemente for going on two weeks. As a result, the front side is still kicking out fish and the tuna are stacked right up against the island.
A friend of mine fished the Freedom out of 22nd St Landing over the weekend and reported seeing at least five long range boats and dozens of sport boats stacked up in that zone. With that much pressure in a relatively small area, the fishing has been hit or miss due to the competition for schools of fish, so private boaters would be better off looking elsewhere for tuna. So, if you’ve got your own boat and are feeling adventurous, it might be worth the effort to look along that temp break that’s running from the west end of Clemente up towards Santa Barbara Island. Like I said, it’s been there for two weeks and that’s plenty of time for the fish to push north along it’s length.
The wahoo are still showing in our local waters, with both the Outer Limits and the Prowler catching one on overnight trips this week. There was at least one other wahoo caught by a private boat out of Dana Point, so if you’re heading out this weekend you might want to drag a big Rapala in your spread. It’s unlikely that you’ll catch one but you never know.
Another exotic species that keeps getting mentioned is the blue marlin.
While there is some discussion on our message boards about the validity of the reports of blues being leadered and released, there have been some bigger fish hooked and lost. Captain Steve Lassley said that he’d heard at least five reports of confirmed blue marlin hook ups. As a result, he and other captains are talking about putting together a blue marlin tournament in U.S. waters. This is really turning into one crazy season.
The big news this week is that the yellows are biting up and down the coast and there are lots of big fish in the mix. Starting to the north, sport boats out of Ventura and Oxnard landings were hammering the 20 to 30-pound tails earlier this week. The best score was from the Aloha Spirit who had 95 fish for 21 people on Sunday’s trip. Everyone is being tight lipped about the location of this bite, but it’s too tough to figure out if you look at the pictures people are posting. If you were looking to get in on this bite, I’d do it before the weekend as the area is going to get hammered by boat pressure.
Although the fish counts don’t really reflect it, there are still plenty of yellowtail to be caught at Palos Verdes and into the Santa Monica Bay. The only boats regularly fishing this zone are the Redondo sport boats and they’ve been having bait problems all year, so it’s hard to tell if the fish are actually biting or not. A private boater running up from Long Beach with a tank of sardines or mackerel should be able to catch some fish by anchoring on one of the standard spots or slow trolling along the edge of the kelp.
For the first time in months, there is something other than sculpin to catch out of Long Beach. In fact, it was the sculpin boats that stumbled onto yellowtail on the 150. The Southern Cal had 4 yellowtail to go with their customary limits of sculpin and the Liberty got in on the action as well. For those not targeting sculpin and hoping for by catch, I’d suggest driving around, looking for bait schools on the fish finder and dropping a yo-yo jig on them when you find one. There are some big fish in the mix, so remember to fish the heavy gear.
The San Diego area is also kicking out some big yellowtail. Along the coast there are fish scattered from La Jolla to the border but the fishing can be hit and miss. I fished down there Friday and we got hammered by the seals and bonito, which made it tough to catch yellows. We finally did connect on a couple of fish but they were the five-pound models instead of the 25 pounders.
The Coronado Islands have been getting more attention from sport boats now that the tuna fishing is getting a little sporadic for the ¾-day fleet. They are producing steady fishing on a mixed grade of fish for sport boats like the Vendetta and the Malihini who have been fishing there regularly.
Fish are biting both bait and jigs, so don’t forget the surface iron if you’re heading down that way. There are a lot of seals at the islands; so private boaters should try slow trolling or run and gun fishing to avoid feeding the dogs.