I mentioned last week that I was thinking about heading down to San Diego since the full day boats had experienced some success catching yellowtail. Then we had some weather and the boats went offline. In the day previous to this latest storm, the yellows didn’t want to bite. I was still inclined to head down, but by Friday the reservations were really light, despite the weather forecast being more than fishable. I was concerned they might not get off the dock. My buddy John Anjard had just fished on the half day boat the New Seaforth and said the rockfishing was really good. I enjoyed having fresh rockfish to eat this week from my trip on the City of Long Beach. Since both boats make their home out of Seaforth Landing, if the full day boat didn’t go, I could wait a half hour and ride the halfie. I was good with the backup plan and made my reservation to ride the San Diego.
I’m glad I went…
Trip Report – The San Diego, Saturday March 23rd
Captain Ryan Bostian, owner/operator of the The San Diego, is consistently the fleet leader when it comes to catching yellowtail. Sure their daily run fishes one of the most yellowtail rich areas in the world, but so do several other boats. Don’t get me wrong, there are other great options to fish this area. I’ve come to understand from these Coronados and Colonet trips over the years that sonar yellowtail fishing is very technical (from the captain’s perspective). I just have a comfort level doing this type of fishing with this particular captain. I was happy with my choice.
We started off in typical fashion with a stop at the bait dock. I noticed the bait was really small. I actually double-taked to make sure they were sardines and not anchovies. I picked an appropriately sized 1/0 circle hook to tie for a high dropper setup (using 40# mono), and also rigged my yo-yo setup using the same full size 187 Jigs mint/white lure that was successful at Colonet this year. Ryan said we would be fishing down the beach, well past the Coronado Islands, so I found a spot in the galley and got comfortable.
When I got up…it was about 7:30 (boat departs at 5:30). I went up top and could see the islands to the west of us. The boat was still in travel mode. It would be an hour plus before we even started looking. The water was really green, likely the hangover from the last storm we had. Ryan said we needed to get further south where there was some cleaner water.
It was probably 10:30 before we actually got a line wet. The first stop yielded one yellow.
The fishing got better over the course of the day, but it never got to the point of wide open. The typical pattern was that Ryan would tell us to get ready and what side to set up on for a drift. Crewmembers Matt or David would chum some bait on Ryan’s instructions. The yellows would briefly show up top, then quickly head right back down. Ryan would say he was marking them between say 120 and 180-feet down. We’d hang some fish, and then the stop would be largely over for catching yellows. Some stops proved better than others, but the pattern remained consistent. Fishing the full size heavy, getting down quickly, and estimating the right time (before bottom) to start reeling was the most successful tactic in catching these fish. Taking note of the pattern, I thought about throwing a surface iron when they first popped up. Crewmember Matt Bralla actually did it. He made a perfect cast on them when they came up, ran his lure right through the action, but they didn’t respond. At any time, you could drop down to the bottom and rockfish.
My goal for the day was to go for a yellowtail/lingcod combo. Few trips offer that opportunity. This one does. In my mind, getting that combo is a wildly successful day and matches up exactly with what I like to eat. Consequently, my game plan was to fish the jig to start each stop, then fish bait on my high dropper to have a chance to catch a lingcod or a yellow. Solid plan in my mind, but it didn’t quite yield the results I wanted. I got 3 bites on yellows…2 jig and 1 bait. Tangles happen and I didn’t convert two of my opportunities. I picked up a few bonito and some rockfish fishing bait. There was one guy on the boat who had no interest catching yellows. Something about not wanting to work that hard. He fished one of those pre-made rockfish rigs that they sell at CISCO’s with 2 sardines. He caught a nice bag of reds, bankies, starries, and the lone lingcod. In contrast, my new friend Charles Pascual was more committed to the jig and caught a boat high (I believe) of 4 yellows. The grade of the yellows ranged from 8-18-pounds.
Overall, it was a great day of fishing. Opportunities were there for whatever you wanted out of the trip.
Thanks again to Ryan and his excellent crew for a very nice day on the water. It always feels good to be count makers vs. count chasers! I’m sure the boat will be fuller from here on out this season.
Good luck if you get out there.