Long-Range Anglers Find Big Fun Fishing for Big Tuna

By: Bill Roecker

Anglers fishing aboard long-range sportfishing boats out of San Diego have been sharing stories of big “cows” and other hot catches south of the border over the past few weeks.

Royal Polaris recently returned from a long-range adventure off Mexico — and the results were impressive. “I’ve had trips that had far more fish number-wise, even trips that had a few more cows, but I have never seen a higher proportion of super-quality fish than on this one, said Royal Polaris’ Larry Eilbot on Dec. 18. “Of the 128 tuna we landed, 27 were not only ‘cows’ (tuna weighing 200+ pounds) but darn big cows!” While anglers aboard spent long hours at the rail and awoke early every day, ready to fish, all the effort was worth it, Eilbot said. “Ultra-long-range fishermen are a special breed. Relatively speaking, there are only a handful of us around — but we all have the mindset that nothing is too big a sacrifice to land the tuna of our dreams.”

Cow-catching anglers included Neil Campbell, with 224- and 306-pounders; Greg De Felice, with a 231-pounder; Ed Delaney, with 223-, 235-, 221- and 208-pounders; Nick Didovic, with a 221-pounder; Craig Drummond, with 296-, 255- and 303-pounders; Kent “Uncle” Fukumoto, with a 249-pounder; John Halcrow, with a 233- and a 261-pounder; George Iwashita, with a 211-pounder; Keith Patterson, with a 234-pounder; Mike Pihl, with 251- and 261-pounders; Bruce Posthumus, with 240- and 225-pounders; Bob Ramirez, with 246- and 223-pounders; Eddy Sisom, with a 274-pounder; Matt Walenta, with 213-, 215- and 281-pounders; and Steve Williams, with a 202-pounder.

Keep Your Hands Away From the Water
Justin Fleck of the long-range boat Excel checked in Dec. 19 with a report indicating that his anglers also found big tuna — abundant and ready to bite.

“We got down to the Ridge yesterday morning,” Fleck said. “Things started out slow, but once we figured out where the best place to fish was, the fishing just took off.

“It was one of those situations where there was almost too much tuna around: You couldn’t put a bait or jig in the water without getting a tuna.” Fleck said. “It was tough to fish for anything else — but it was fantastic tuna fishing. We also had good yellowtail fishing.”

Sliding South
Red Rooster III was lucky, too. According to a Dec. 18 report from the boat, “We ended up with just over 80 tuna and a nice wahoo. A lot of fun was had by all — and now we’re sliding down once again.

“Good day this morning on the anchor here on the bank, with a few trophies mixed in, and some personal bests. You just can’t get any better than that.”

Day Off In the Deeps
Tim Ekstrom reported for his Royal Star Dec. 18 that even on days when the big cows seemed to be “taking time off,” there was good fishing on “mid-grade 120- to 195-pound yellowfin tuna,” too.

“Whatever charges these fish up on the outside — bottomless water suggesting freedom, behavioral effects of pursuing some type of forage, or whatever the case — the fish we hook on the outside are commonly more spirited in their efforts to escape than those we battle in the shallows,” Ekstrom said. “Today was no exception.

“From a couple of different stops, we wrangled a few more than a dozen 150- to 195-pound bruisers that one would have sworn were solid 200-pounders by the way they pulled,” he said. “They came hard-earned, and with extra satisfaction, even with the fantastic catch of 17 big deuces already in the holds.”

Among Royal Star’s notable catches for this trip was a 256-pound yellowfin, brought aboard by veteran angler Bob Pound.

La Paz Variety
“Lots of variety this past week,” wrote Jonathan Roldan about the La Paz fishing Dec. 20. “After the stellar fishing we’ve had the past few weeks that surprised many of us, this week seemed to be a little more typical of what winter fishing is like in La Paz. It was breezy and a bit chilly, even though the sun was out most of the time.

“However, the fishing had a really good mix of species, with perhaps a bit more inshore fish than we had been getting — which included nice bunches of sierra and cabrilla, as well as bonito,” Roldan said. “However, the nice surprise again was the showing of striped marlin and other blue water species that we don’t usually see this time of year.

“The marlin were respectable 90- to 130-pound fish — and almost all were released (except two that couldn’t be revived) — but a real treat, given that they were taken close to shore and most on light tackle,” Roldan said.

“As well, we still have schools of 8- to 20-pound dorado cruising nearby, and we had a few bites on wahoo once again, although most bites were lost,” he said. “There are still nice trophy roosterfish up on the beach areas and in the shallows that are running 15-40 pounds — and all getting released.”

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