By: Terrence Berg
BIG TUNA NEWS: Mexico has agreed to reopen its waters to bluefin tuna sportfishing, according to the Sportfishing Association of California. The verbal agreement was tendered this week, and SAC expects the written confirmation to arrive no later than Monday.
TUNA ACTION STILL SPECTACULAR: The tuna fishing off the Southern California coastline is as good as it gets every 20 to 30 years. There may be a flurry of action for a week that is like this in “good” tuna years, but this bite has been going on since May and — if possible — just keeps getting better and better with more and more fish in the Southern California Bite. While Mexico rescinded its ban on bluefin tuna fishing in Mexican waters, sportfishing skippers are calling that a cherry on a sundae already covered with all the toppings. The bluefin, which have been showing in American waters, are running in two grades. First, there are 40 to 60-pounders which are being landed on the gear most anglers bring on the overnight to 2 1/2-day trips. Then there are bigger fish the run up into the 100 to 110-pound range that are a little more problematic to land. While the yellowfin tuna are a little smaller, mostly running from 15 to 30 pounds, they are showing in better volume than the bluefin. Add in yellowtail from seven to 15 pounds and dorado up to 25 pounds and you have a spectacular mix of migrants in our local waters right now. Some recent scores just to show you how good it has been. On Tuesday, the Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing returned from an overnight trip and the 34 anglers on board had 82 bluefin to just over 100 pounds and 27 yellowfin. The Grande, out of Point Loma Sportfishing, was also out on Tuesday and the 36 anglers on board the 1 1/2-day trip landed 157 yellowfin, 22 yellowtail, and 11 dorado. The Prowler, out of Fisherman’s Landing was on a limited-load, 1 1/2-day charter on Tuesday with 14 anglers and they had 70 yellowfin (limits), six bluefin and two yellowtail. The Pacific Queen, also Fisherman’s Landing, was on a two-day trip and the 30 anglers on board landed 246 yellowfin, five bluefin, and nine dorado. The Islander from Fisherman’s was on a 2 1/2-day trip with 24 anglers and they landed 240 bluefin and 240 yellowfin — limits of both. The Seeker out of H&M Landing was on a 1 1/2-day trip with 21 anglers on Tuesday and they caught limits of yellowfin (105) and 12 yellowtail. Most skippers are forecasting this action will continue well into October this year based on water temperatures and the sheer volume of tuna from San Martin Island in northern Baja all the way up to the Channel Islands.
CATALINA HOT FOR YELLOWTAIL: Boats not running for the tuna are heading to Catalina Island for the excellent yellowtail and mixed-bag surface action. For example, the Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing was at Catalina on Tuesday and there were 60 yellowtail, a white seabass, a halibut and a mixed bag of bonito, barracuda, and some legal calicos on the boat. Most boats have been getting from 50 to 100 yellowtail per day — two to four fish per rod. These boats also frequently stop on tuna schools while crossing the channel to or from the island. When that happens the counts also include some yellowfin tuna and dorado.
HALF-DAY STINKY: Only the half-day fleet is finding difficult fishing. There’s usually not enough time to get into the tuna, and while the calico bass bite is good to excellent only one in 10 to 12 fish is keeper sized. The nearshore barracuda action, when the skinnies pop, is usually a short term deal. The bite is good until the seals show up. The most consistent action on these trips has been sculpin.
CHANNEL ISLANDS ROCKFISH EXCELLENT: The Ventura and Santa Barbara-based boats are focusing on the excellent rockfish in the Channel Islands, but a couple of boats are focusing on surface fish and getting good scores on the legal calicos and a few white seabass and/or yellowtail. On Monday and Tuesday this week, the Island Tak had charters where all on board had limits of five calicos. On Monday, the eight anglers on board also had 80 whitefish and 21 rockfish. On Saturday, the Mirage was out with 22 anglers and they had 29 white seabass, 220 rockfish, 50 whitefish, 44 ling cod, five sheephead, four halibut and two barracuda.
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 the Sept. 4 charter. This is a 1 1/2-day jaunt aboard the Triton out of Long Beach Sportfishing and limits to 20 anglers. Cost is $225. Check the website for details or call 562-352-0012. The website is 976-TUNA.com.
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 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. Harbor 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.