By: Terrence Berg
PELGICS WIDE OPEN: The entire Southern California coastline and offshore islands are simple jugged with warm-water pelagic fish species. Yellowtail are by far the most abundant and providing the best fishing from San Diego up into the Channels. They are being caught by anglers on half-day boats, three-quarter and full-day boats, and overnight trips. The boat traffic has been incredible, but the yellows continue to bite. While the schools of fish in near-shore waters have been getting a little more spooky and difficult to catch, the bite remains simply unprecedented. The quality of most of the yellowtail is unbelievable with most schools holding fish from 18 pounds on the low end up into the 30-pound class on the upper end. The loss rate on many boats is 50 percent or more on these quality yellowtail. A few schools of smaller fish from six to 12 pounds have been showing up at the Coronado Islands, along with San Clemente and Catalina islands this past week, but even in those areas, the vast schools of bigger fish are still the norm. In addition to the yellowtail, the warm water and huge bait supply is attracting more and more schools of yellowfin and bluefin tuna into U.S. waters. The first dorado were reported by sportboats in the past week. With a big El Niño now forecast for this year, it is likely ocean conditions will mimic what we normally only see in September from July on this year. Hold on. It’s already been a wild ride and it’s just going to get better.
CORONADO ISLANDS UPDATE: The Coronado Islands continue to be one of the hottest spots to fish yellowtail in the whole region. Mexico’s insistence that all anglers have Passports and an entrance visa has continued, limiting the number of anglers able to fish the islands out of San Diego-based landings. But H&M, Seaforth, and Point Loma have all done a good job at notifying anglers of the Passport need and have been filling trips to the Coronado Islands again. How good is the bite? The Mission Belle out of Seaforth Sportfishing was out Monday with 19 anglers and they had full five-fish limits of yellowtail (95). One Tuesday, there were 34 anglers who landed 101 yellowtail. The San Diego, out of Seaforth Sportfishing, was out Monday with 34 anglers and they landed 137 yellowtail, 79 barracuda, and four bonito. On Tuesday, there were 45 anglers on the same boat and they had 72 yellowtail, 15 barracuda, 12 bonito, and one halibut. The Malihini, out of H&M Landing, was out Wednesday with 28 anglers and they had 109 yellowtail and five yellowfin tuna. While most of these fish continue to be in the 18 to 25 pound class, a few small yellowtail from 6 to 12 pounds have also been showing in recent days.
SAN DIEGO OFFSHORE: Skippers are reporting an incredible volume of yellowfin, bluefin, and yellowtail within 20 to 50 miles of San Diego in both Mexican and U.S. waters. Most of the overnight boats out of San Diego landings are targeting this mixed bag in U.S. waters (where bluefin tuna remain legal for sport anglers, as opposed to Mexican waters where they are off limits this season). The Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing was on an overnight trip Tuesday with eight anglers and they landed 30 bigger grade yellowtail, eight yellowfin tuna to 65 pounds, two bluefin in the 30 pound class, and one dorado. The New Lo-An was on an overnight trip out of Point Loma on Tuesday and the 20 anglers on board had 24 yellowtail, eight bluefin, and four yellowfin.
SAN CLEMENTE UPDATE: A few of the sportboats out of Los Angeles and Orange county-based landings continue to make the run to San Clemente Island on overnight trips. While yellowtail remain the primary focus, there is great mixed bag fishing. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker was at Clemente on Wednesday and the 29 anglers on board had 58 yellowtail, 178 rockfish, 42 whitefish, 31 sheephead, five perch, and a sculpin. On Tuesday, the same boat was out with 27 anglers and they landed 127 yellowtail, 180 whitefish, 102 rockfish, 56 calico bass, two barracuda, and one halibut. The Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing was on an overnight trip Tuesday and the 36 anglers landed 119 yellowtail, 172 whitefish, 32 rockfish, 12 bonito, and three each on the calico bass, barracuda, and sheephead.
CATALINA ISLAND STILL HOT: As with everywhere else along the coast, the Catalina Island bite on yellowtail remains hot, there has been a surge of bonito and barracuda numbers in the past couple of weeks and the calico bass action remains good for the full-day boats making this run from Los Angeles and Orange county landings. The Pursuit out of 22nd Street Landing was at Catalina on Monday with 56 anglers and they landed 90 yellowtail, 25 calico bass, eight bonito, and four barracuda.
NEARSHORE NEWS: Many boats from south Orange County through Los Angeles county landings are running half-day trips targeting yellowtail. The Monte Carlo out of 22nd Street Landing had a pair of half-day trips on Tuesday with a total of 71 anglers and they had nine yellowtail and 31 sculpin. The Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing was on a half-day Tuesday with 33 anglers and they had five yellowtail. The three-quarter day Native Son trip on Monday out of 22nd Street Landing had 42 anglers who landed 53 yellowtail. The Pacific Quest out of Pierpoint Landing was on a full-day local trip with 12 anglers and they landed 11 yellowtail and had 15 other hookups.
CHANNEL ISLANDS NEWS: The more northern landings in the Ventura and Santa Barbara region are fishing the Channel Islands with great mixed bag action. While the focus has continued to be on rockfish, a lot of the boats are now targeting surface species, especially yellowtail, and white seabass have been intermittent visitors. On Sunday, the Pacific Islander out of Channel Islands Sportfishing was on an overnight trip with 17 anglers and they landed 36 yellowtail and two white seabass along with 47 rockfish, five lingcod and three halibut. The Aloha Spirit, also out of CIS on Sunday, had 14 anglers who landed six yellowtail, 25 rockfish, 14 calico bass, 12 barracuda, five whitefish, and a sheephead.
LONG RANGE NEWS: The San Diego boats making five- to seven-day trips down the Mexican coast are focusing on the grounds around Cedros Island and back toward San Diego. While bluefin tuna can’t be kept, the yellowfin and yellowtail action has been excellent. The Royal Polaris returned this week from a seven-day family trip (with a lot of kids on board) and they had limits of yellowfin to 70 pounds and yellowtail to nearly 40 pounds on day, just about wearing out everyone for the trip.
INSTRUCTIONAL CHARTERS: The staff of 976-TUNA is hosting instructional charters throughout the season, offering advice to beginning or veteran anglers and on-the-water teaching of techniques for different saltwater species. The next trip is a two-day trip aboard the Grande out of Point Loma Sportfish set to depart on July 5. This trip will target pelagic species in offshore waters. Cost is $350 per angler. Check 976-TUNA.com or call 562-352-0012 for details.
LANDING CONTACTS: Southern California: Virg’s Sportfishing, Morro Bay, 805-772-1222; Patriot Sportfishing, Avila Beach, 805-595-7200; Sea Landing, Santa Barbara, 805-963-3564; Harbor Village Sportfishing, Ventura, 805-658-1060; Channel Islands Sportfishing Center, Oxnard, 805-985-8511; Hook’s Landing, Oxnard, 805-382-6233 (Port Hueneme Sportfishing has merged with Channel Islands Sportfishing); Malibu Pier Sportfishing, 310-328-8426; Marina Del Rey Sportfishin, Marina del Rey, 310-822-3625; Redondo Sportfishing, Redondo Beach, 310-372-2111; Rocky Point Fuel Dock (skiff rentals for King Harbor), Redondo Beach, 310-374-9858; 22nd Street Landing, San Pedro, 310-832-8304; L.A. Waterfront Sportfishing, San Pedro, 310-547-9916; Long Beach Sportfishing, Long Beach, 562-432-8993; Pierpoint Landing, Long Beach, 562-983-9300; Marina Sportfishing, Long Beach, 562-598-6649; Newport Landing, Newport Beach, 949-675-0550; Davey’s Locker, Newport Beach, 949-673-1434; Dana Wharf Sportfishing, Dana Point, 949-496-5794; Helgren’s Sportfishing, Oceanside, 760-722-2133; Fisherman’s Landing, San Diego, 619-221-8500; H&M Landing, San Diego, 619-222-1144; Seaforth Landing, San Diego, 619-224-3383; Point Loma Sportfishing, San Diego, 619-223-1627.
Mexico Landings: Sergio’s Sportfishing, Ensenada, 011-526-178-2185; San Quintin Sportfishing, San Quintin, 011-526-162-1455.