Yo-Yo Yellows 805
Last September, I fished Anacapa Island on the Gent out of Channel Islands Sportfishing. We were running low on bait and stopped on a kelp paddy to try and make more. I was sitting in the wheelhouse with Capt. Donnie Rowell and we could see tons of life under the paddy. We figured we would make short work of it. Turns out, the paddy was jugged full of these six inch yellowtail.
I thought at the time, “There’s going to be good yellowtail fishing here next year.”
Fast forward to now. It appears as if those yellows hung around and grew up. This last Sunday (March 13th), over 70 nicer grade yellows were boated between the CISCO’s and Ventura Landings. From what I’ve heard, the tally could’ve been much better. For one, there is no bait to speak of right now. I heard of some private boaters catching fish on dropper loop macks, but it’s all about heavy iron on the sporties.
I talked with Capt. Shawn Steward of the Aloha Spirit Monday morning. They posted 21 yellows for 20 anglers on Sunday. Shawn told me he’s seeing a volume of fish this year (Ha! I was right!) With fish ranging anywhere from 5-10-pounders, to the 25-35-pound grade they saw yesterday, with of course that big outlier (50.6-pounds!) that was caught on opening day. They haven’t had bait yet this year. As a result, the current game is run and gun style on meter marks, yo-yo on the school, pick off some fish and repeat the process.
The fish are holding close to the bottom, which is reason #2 why the count wasn’t higher…a high casualty rate. Leave your 25 and 30 setup on the rack for rockfishing. When it’s yo-yo yellowtail time, you want to fish a minimum of 40-pound string.
Shawn says not to be afraid to fish 60!
I also had a chat with Seeker Rods pro-staffer Allen Mattox who was riding the Island Spirit on Sunday. They posted a count of 29 for 25 anglers on Sunday. Allen echoed Shawn’s sentiments. He told me they hooked 50-70 fish, but most people just weren’t properly geared up. Allen was fishing a Seeker Black Steel 6480/Newell reel combo, with 65-pound braid to a 40-pound topshot. Allen converted 3 bites into 2 fish on the boat, the third being lost in a tangle.
So there you have it, bring your heavy iron and fish the big string. Personally, I’d start fishing 40 on the yo-yo, but have some bigger string in case it gets stupid. Shawn mentioned he has seen a couple pops on top, so you might consider a surface iron setup if you want. I’d round out my lineup with a lighter setup for rockfishing and whitefish.
Good luck if you get out there!