By: Terrence Berg
FISHING BREAKING WIDE OPEN: The Southern California tuna and season is breaking wide open this week. With the weekend full moon and warm temperatures, the past week was just the beginning of what is shaping up as a bluefin and yellowfin tuna season that will be even better than last year’s historic action. The volume and quality of bluefin tuna in the Southern California Bite might be greater than ever before right now. The fish are showing as close as six to eight miles offshore from Long Beach to San Diego, and most of the fish are 30 to 40 pounds with lots of schools of bigger fish to 150 pounds. The yellowtail action — mostly on quality 25 to 40 pound fish — remains exceptional all along the coast and at Catalina and Clemente islands clear up into the northern Channel Islands. Add in that yellowfin tuna are already showing in U.S. waters where the water temperatures are highest and the stage is being set for an epic summer fishing season. In just the past few days, there was an opah caught on the three-quarter day Ultra out of 22nd Street Landing and an Oarfish washed up on the beach at Catalina. These are both warm-water fish that almost never are seen in this region, but they are already here at the beginning of our warm water season.
MEXICAN PASSPORT REQUIREMENT: Anglers fishing in Mexican waters now must have a full-fledged U.S. Passport to get a short-term Visa. This means that the U.S. fleet has all but abandoned the Coronado Islands due to the new regulation. Until this change last week, U.S. Landings were able to issue short term Visas with a driver?s license identification. Mexico also has entirely closed its bluefin tuna season to sport take. That one-two punch has kept the Southern California fleet mostly out of Mexican waters in the past week.
BLUEFIN TUNA EXPLODED IN U.S. WATERS: The full moon and warming water conditions triggered an exceptional bite on bluefin tuna from Long Beach to San Diego and they have been landed on everything from half-day boats to 2 1/2-day boats that are staying in U.S. waters, avoiding the Mexican bluefin closure and new Passport requirement. While the big hasn?t been easy (the fish are full of red squid and small fin fish), those being landed in flurries of action are most quality fish from 30 to 35 pounds. The best part, they are showing everywhere. In San Diego, with the Coronados essentially off limits, the three-quarter day to 2 1/2-day boats have been focusing on bluefin. For the three-quarter day gang, the average have been from a half-fish to a full fish per rod. The New Lo An, on an overnight trip out of Point Loma Sportfishing, returned Monday with seven bluefin and 17 yellowtail for 31 anglers. The San Diego, out of Seaforth Sportfishing, had 13 anglers Tuesday and they landed eight bluefin. Even the New Seaforth on a half-day trip had one bluefin Monday. The Malihini out of H&M Landing was on a three-quarter day trip Tuesday with 16 anglers and they landed 17 bluefin, while the Pacific Queen on a 1 1/2-day trip over the weekend reported 30 bluefin. Off the Los Angeles and Orange County coast, the bite is as good. The Thunderbird out of Davey?s Locker has been on the quality bluefin since last week on overnight trips. The anglers on this boat have had a couple of fish over 80 pounds with a 102 pounder tops. On Friday last week, 12 anglers had 19 bluefin, and an early report from Wednesday put four bluefin and three yellowfin already on board. The Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing had eight bluefin to 65 pounds on an overnight trip over the weekend with 35 anglers. The Pacific Quest out of Pierpoint Landing was on an overnight with 12 anglers Saturday and they had eight bluefin and one yellowfin.
YELLOWTAIL STILL EXCEPTIONAL (AND OTHER STUFF, TOO): While the tuna news has almost overshadowed the yellowtail fishing, the big schools of big yellowtail (averaging 25 to 40 pounds) remain all along the coast, the local islands, and have been pushing further up into the Channel Islands in the past week. San Clemente has big numbers of yellows, along with very good calico bass action, but none of the sport fleet has touched the place this week. Catalina is also jugged with yellowtail and has increasing numbers of barracuda and bonito to join the good calico bass action. The Pursuit out of 22nd Street Landing was at Catalina on Tuesday with 45 anglers and they landed 107 yellowtail, 24 calico bass, 16 barracuda, and 14 bonito. The Freelance out of Davey?s Locker was also there Tuesday with 71 anglers and they landed seven yellowtail, 53 barracuda, 42 calicos, and 25 bonito. The reality is that most of the half- and three-quarter day boats are fishing for local yellowtail, right near the coast. The Monte Carlo out of 22nd Street Landing had a pair of half-day trips on Tuesday with a total of 38 anglers, and between the two trip there were 11 yellowtail on board. The Southern Cal out of Pierpoint Landing also had two half-day trips on Tuesday with a total of 45 anglers and they had 15 yellowtail. The Victory, also out of Pierpoint on the three-quarter day trip Tuesday with 27 anglers, fished local for 26 yellowtail to 40 pounds along with 110 sculpin. Also Tuesday, The Enterprise out of Long Beach Marina Sportfishing was out with 30 anglers and they had 48 yellowtail. The Patriot out of Newport Landing had 18 anglers who landed 25 yellowtail and 92 rockfish on Tuesday. A mid-day report from the Patriot on Wednesday had the count already up to 50 yellowtail. The Indian out of Redondo Sportfishing also reported in mid-day Wednesday with 30 yellowtail on board.
CHANNEL ISLANDS ROCKFISH AND OTHER NEWS: While most of the boats fishing the Channel Islands continue to focus on limit-style rockfish action, there have been a number of trips over the past week focusing on calico bass, white seabass, and yellowtail that have shown that all three are on tap. The Mirage out of Channel Islands Sportfishing returned from a two-day trip on Sunday and the 13 anglers on board had 57 yellowtail, 260 whitefish, 150 rockfish, 40 sheephead, 10 ling cod, two halibut, and one white seabass. The Island Tak, also CISCO Landing, was out Monday with 10 anglers on a full day trip and they landed eight white seabass, one yellowtail, 18 calico bass and two barracuda.
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 jaunt aboard the Oceanside 95 which departs Monday, June 22. Cost $350 per angler. This trip will be targeting bluefin and yellowfin tuna along with yellowtail in local offshore fishing. Call 562-352-0012 for details.
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.