GENERAL UPDATE: The ocean conditions are different than we have seen the past two El Niño summers, with warm conditions nearshore, but cooler offshore waters — a more “normal” condition. Normally, we wouldn’t be seeing the warm-water pelagics until mid- to late-August through September and October, and while we are a little ahead of schedule with some residual warming, the cool, offshore waters indicate a shift back to the norm. There have even been some commercial reports about albacore just 90 miles off Point Loma this week, although none have been caught by the sport fleet. (The last years of albacore runs in any appreciable numbers were 2008 and 2009.)
SAN DIEGO OVERNIGHT AND LONGER UPDATE: The yellowfin tuna that had been providing such good fishing for the overnight to three-day boats running out of San Diego had been showing primarily in two spots and the Mexican commercial fleet jumped on them in the past week, really knocking down the numbers and scattering the fish. The kelp paddy yellowtail and dorado have more than made up for it. The yellows are generally good quality fish up to 40 pounds or better, while the dorado are mostly in the 12 to 20 pound range with a few smaller fish from 4 to 8 pounds. The cool thing about the big yellowtail is that they are in open water and extremely catchable (without bottom rocks and structure to shear and snag lines). Many novices are landing their personal biggest yellowtail on these trips overnight to three-day trips now focusing on the floating kelp instead of yellowfin.
Many boats are reporting limits or near-limits of yellowtail, along with a few yellowfin tuna and dorado. Ocean Odyssey out of H&M Landing was on a 1 1/2-day trip with 29 anglers that returned Aug. 2 and they landed 108 yellowtail, 20 dorado, and six yellowfin. Grande out of Fisherman’s Landing was on a two-day trip that returned Aug. 2, and the 19 anglers on board had 75 yellowtail, 11 dorado, and six yellowfin. Legend out of H&M Landing, also on a two-day trip that returned Aug. 2, had 26 anglers who caught 100 yellowtail, 11 dorado, and two yellowfin. Apollo out of Seaforth Sportfishing was also on a two-day trip, and its 16 anglers landed 112 yellowtail, 33 dorado, and four yellowfin. Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing was heading home from a three-day trip on Aug. 3, and the anglers reported they had three-day limits of yellowtail, 41 dorado, and 25 yellowfin.
CORONADO ISLAND BITE SHUTS DOWN: The good yellowtail action that had been ongoing for the three-quarter day boats out of San Diego running out to the Coronado Islands shut down the middle of this week. The water turned over, got cooler, and went off-color and the yellowtail moved off. On Aug. 3, the skippers were running offshore looking for yellowtail or they came inshore for the calico bass.
CHANNEL ISLANDS UPDATES: The bite at Catalina Islands has been a broken report with good mixed-bag action on yellowtail, bass, and bonito. Freelance out of Davey’s Locker had 74 anglers on its three-quarter day trip Aug. 2 and they had seven yellowtail, 85 bonito, and 20 keeper calicos. The Aug. 1 trip with 67 anglers produced 37 yellowtail, 85 bonito, four calicos, and one whitefish. Pursuit out of 22nd Street Landing was out Aug. 2 with 51 anglers and they landed 110 yellowtail, 36 calicos, 25 bonito, six whitefish, four sheephead, and three barracuda on a full-day trip. Enterprise out of Long Beach Marina Sportfishing had 60 anglers on its Aug. 2 three-quarter day trip and they landed 275 bonito, 62 calico bass, two barracuda, and one yellowtail.
San Clemente Islands, depending on where the Navy lets anglers, has been very good for calico bass with some good shots on yellowtail. Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker reported limits of keeper-calico on an overnight trip Aug. 3.
A couple of boats making the run to San Nicolas Island have found flurries of good yellowtail action but fantastic rockfish bites. El Dorado out of Long Beach Sportfishing was at Nic on an overnight trip with 19 anglers on Aug. 3 and they landed 57 yellowtail along with 110 whitefishing, 55 ling cod, 45 rockfish, two sheephead, one Cabazon, and one barracuda. Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing had 26 anglers on its overnight trip to Nic and they landed 60 yellowtail, 114 rockfish, 81 whitefish, 29 sheephead, and three red snapper.
CALICO BASS INSHORE BITES: While it’s still a little early to make this call, it looks like the size-limit and bag restriction for calico bass might be having the desired effect — more bigger fish. Skippers have been reporting fish up to 6 pounds and finally more keeper fish are showing in the bag. There has been pretty good calico action for San Diego, Oceanside, and Newport-area boats over the past week. There have also been a few barracuda, bonito, and yellowtail mixed in on some days.
New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing was on a twilight trip Aug. 2 with 29 anglers and they landed 65 legal bass along with a barracuda. Premier out of H&M Landing had 44 anglers on its Aug. 3 morning half-day and they landed 135 calico bass, four rockfish, three sheephead, and a bonus white seabass. Dana Pride out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing had 36 anglers on its Aug. 1 half-day and they landed 47 bonito, 36 keeper calico (and 204 underside fish that were released), 23 keeper sand bass, a halibut, a sheephead, a sculpin, and six bonus yellowtail. Western Pride, out of Davey’s Locker, had 67 anglers on its Aug. 1 afternoon half-day trip and they caught 47 yellowtail, 48 bonito, 33 calico bass, and two sheephead. On the morning half-day, there were 70 anglers and they had 95 calicos (over 100 released), three bonito, a halibut, and a sculpin. On its Saturday, three-quarter day trip, there were 33 anglers who landed 175 calico bass, three sheephead, three rockfish, and three perch.
BLUEFIN UPDATE: The bluefin tuna remain in good numbers throughout the channel between the mainland and the Channel Islands, especially for the San Diego to Los Angeles-are private boaters. While few of the commercial sportboats continue to target these fish, private fishing and spearfish boats are seeing a lot of tuna from 80 to 100 pounds and some upwards of 200 pounds.
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 available trip is a two-day jaunt leaving Aug. 14, aboard Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing. Cost is $350 for early registration. Check 976-TUNA.com or 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 Sportfishing, 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; Islandia Sportfishing, San Diego, 619-222-1164.
Mexico Landings: Sergio’s Sportfishing, Ensenada, 011-526-178-2185; San Quintin Sportfishing, San Quintin, 011-526-162-1455.