By: Terrence Berg
EXCEPTIONAL PELAGIC ACTION: The excellent fishing for pelagic species has continued through the past week for sport boats from San Diego, Oceanside, and Orange County and Los Angeles County landings. It’s simply as good as it gets once every 20 or 30 years. Yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, and dorado are showing from the Catalina Channel all the way to the tip of Cabo San Lucas, and there are big schools of bluefin tuna in both Mexican and American waters. While the Mexican’s have closed the bluefin season for the rest of this year, and the United States is considering a closure or greater restrictions, the sportfishing fleet is landing bluefin in excellent numbers and mostly the size range some are advocating as the minimum for harvest — 30-plus pounds.
In San Diego, boats running half-day trips to 2.5 day trips have been focusing on the pelagics because of the huge volume of yellowfin tuna and yellowtail in local waters. Just a few actual counts from recent days to illustrat how good the fishing has been: The Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing returned from a 2.5 day trip on Sunday and the 31 anglers on board had 310 yellowtail, 114 yellowfin, and seven dorado. The Legend out of H&M Landing was on an overnight trip that returned on Tuesday and the 20 anglers on board landed 100 yellowtail, 33 yellowfin, 29 dorado, and a striped marlin. The El Dorado out of Point Loma Sportfishing was on an overnight trip with just 14 anglers on Tuesday and they caught 64 yellowtail and 54 yellowfin. The Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing was on a 1.5 day trip with 33 anglers that returned Tuesday and they landed 121 yellowfin and 28 yellowtail. Even the half-day boat the Dolpin has been running afternoon trips offshore and has been averaging from 15 to 30 yellowfin and yellowtail per trip over the past week. The best news is that the quality of the fish with both the yellowfin and yellowtail running from 14 to 22 pounds and many better fish all the way up into the 35-pound range. Not many “footballs” this year.
In the Oceanside to Los Angeles region, the half-day boats are mostly focusing on bass and rockfish (although the tuna, yellowtail and dorado are there but usually kept down by boat traffic), but the three-quarter day and longer trips are also targeting the offshore species which are thick even in this region. The Oceanside 95 out of Helgren’s in Oceanside was out with just eight anglers Tuesday and they landed 33 yellowtail and 20 yellowfin tuna. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach was on a two-day trip returning early this week and the 25 anglers on board had 166 yellowfin tuna, 128 yellowtail, 57 bluefin tuna, and three dorado. (This is the Thunderbird’s best pelagic count in at least the last four years, maybe a lot longer.) The Bongos II, also out of Davey’s, was out Tuesday with five anglers and they landed 31 yellowtail, five yellowfin, and one bluefin. The Freedom, on a two-day trip out of 22nd Street Landing returning Tuesday, had 30 anglers who landed 90 bluefin, 71 yellowtail, 60 quality bonito, 27 yellowfin tuna, and two dorado fishing the Cortez Bank. The boat traffic which is keeping the yellowtail and tuna down closer to shore, especially on weekends has many of the skippers focusing on Catalina, where the bonito, bass, and other species are sure to fill anglers’ sacks when loads are heavy. The Freelance out of Davey’s was out Sunday with 83 anglers at Catalina and they landed 195 bonito, 85 sand dabs, 18 barracuda, 15 rockfish, five keeper calicos (along with 75 released bass), four sheephead, and one whitefish. The Pursuit, on Wednesday, reported in the anglers on board had 30 yellowtail and one dorado on a kelp paddy while heading over to Catalina. The local half-day boats have been hammering the bonito and sculpin and if they roll up on the right kelp at the right time, these anglers have also been getting a few of the pelagic species.
CHANNEL ISLANDS UPDATE: While most of the action remains rockfish and calico bass for the boats fishing the Channel Islands, there were some good scores on white seabass Tuesday and Wednesday this week. On Tuesday, the Pacific Islander out of Channel Islands Sportfishing was on an overnight trip with 25 anglers and they landed 35 white seabass along with limits (250) on rockfish, two sheephead, two whitefish, one halibut, and one barracuda. On Wednesday, again on an overnight trip, Islander had 31 anglers who landed 27 white seabass, 140 rockfish, 11 ling cod, two sole, and one whitefish. The Mirage, returning from a two-day on Wednesday with 17 anglers, had 30 white seabass and a yellowtail along with 279 rockfish, 61 whitefish, 32 barracuda, six sheephead, and one halibut on board.
INSTRUCTIONAL CHARTERS: The staff of 976-TUNA is hosting instructional charters throughout the year, offering advice to beginning or veteran anglers and on-the-water teaching of techniques for different saltwater species. With the good fishing, all trips are booked up until the August 31 two-day trip aboard the Fortune out of Fisherman’s Landing. This is limited to 22 anglers and the cost is $400. Check the website for details or call (562) 352-0012. The website is 976-TUNA.com.