By: Terrence Berg
LONG RANGE AWESOME: The 12 to 16-day trips running out of San Diego and fishing off the tip of Baja have seen a dramatic upturn in the fishing over the past week with both the number and size of yellowfin tuna landed on the increase. The Royal Polaris reported in Tuesday, March 24 at mid-trip and reported all but one of its holds is full with the average fish running 140 to 190 pounds. Ali Chahine, who had never landed an ocean fish bigger than a 15-pound bluefin caught on a three-day trip, caught a 221-pounder and then a 364-pounder, both on the same day this week.
ONE-AND-A-HALF DAY NEWS: Conditions both in Mexican waters to the south and offshore on the Cortez Bank deteriorated over the weekend and there was generally poor fishing conditions. The Eclipse, on a 2 1/2-day trip over the weekend, found such poor conditions down the Baja coast that they actually went offshore to look for tuna and found schools of bluefin weighing from 100 to 200 pounds but couldn’t get bit. The Pacific Voyager, also out of Seaforth, battled conditions and the 17 anglers on board managed to land 58 yellowtail and 85 rockfish. The Invicta out of H&M Landing had 20 anglers on its weekend trip off northern Baja, and they landed just 11 yellowtail, 120 rockfish, 20 bonito, and 15 sheephead. The Chief, also out of H&M, focused on rockfish on its 1 1/2-day trip and the 33 anglers on board had full 10-fish limits in Mexican waters. The bluefin tuna on the Cortez have had little pressure over the past week. The boats that had been running to the Cortez switched to San Clemente’s good yellowtail bite or avoided the rough conditions, and the one or two boats that did make the run this past week didn’t score on any bluefin, but had good picks on yellowtail and bonito along with getting as many rockfish as they wanted. Water conditions remain June-like at the Cortez. This bite has not gone away and is only expected to get better.
CORONADO ISLANDS YELLOWTAIL: The yellowtail action at the Coronado Islands for the San Diego three-quarter day fleet has been good to excellent all of the past week. On Tuesday, the Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing was out with 37 anglers and they landed 106 yellowtail, six barracuda, two rockfish and a bonito. On Monday, March 23, 25 anglers had 101 yellowtail, three barracuda, a sheephead, a rockfish, and a lingcod on the same boat. The Malihini out of H&M Landing was out with 28 anglers on Tuesday, March 24 and they had 101 yellowtail. The bite was a little tougher over the weekend because of wind, but the bite was surging back on by Tuesday, March 24.
SAN CLEMENTE UPDATE: The solid yellowtail action at San Clemente Islands slowed a little early this week. Not because the fish moved, but because the Navy wasn’t letting boats into the best spots. The average over the past week has been from 10 to 40 fish per boat, with nearly a fish per rod about average. The Thunderbird out of Davey’s Locker was at Clemente on Sunday with 30 anglers and they landed 29 yellowtail, 176 rockfish, 37 bonito, 32 sheephead, seven perch, three calico bass, two ling cod, and two sculpin. The Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing was at Clemente Monday with 33 anglers and they landed 17 yellowtail, 250 rockfish, 47 whitefish, 30 bonito, and 27 sheephead. The Commander out of Long Beach Sportfishing was at Clemente on a 1 1/2-day trip over the weekend and the 24 anglers on board had 55 yellowtail, 105 rockfish, 57 sheephead, 32 whitefish, five bonito, five sculpin, and one ling cod. Similar scores were posted by the Freedom, the Fortune, and the Ultra out of 22nd Street Landing.
CATALINA ISLAND NEWS: A number of boats have been running surface-bottom fish combos like those boats fishing Clemente, and the bite has been very good for mixed action. The Pursuit out of 22nd Street Landing was at Catalina on Tuesday with 46 anglers and they landed 15 yellowtail, 104 rockfish, 62 red snapper, 18 bocaccio, 17 bonito, 15 calico bass, 15 whitefish, 10 perch, and one cabezon.
ROCKFISH ALL ALONG COAST: The local rockfish bite continues solid for boats from San Diego up into the Channel Islands. The fishing gets progressively better the further up the coast your travel. The San Diego and Oceanside half-day boats are averaging from four to six bottom fish per angler, and the averages increase to six to eight fish for the Orange and Los Angeles county fleet, up to full limits of rockfish for the Ventura and Santa Barbara boats. Yellowtail are possible all along the coast because water temperatures are more like May or June than March, and there are more bass and bonito showing. The Native Sun out of 22nd Street Landing was out Sunday with 20 anglers and they landed 16 yellowtail, 56 bocaccio, 32 rockfish, 31 bonito, 16 whitefish, 10 calico bass, and eight red snapper. On Tuesday, the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing was out with 17 anglers in the afternoon half-day and they landed 66 rockfish, eight red snapper, six sculpin, two whitefish, and one sheephead.
SURF PERCH NEWS: The barred surf perch action remains good with a lot of 2 to 3 pound fish, especially in the Pismo-Oceano region. The bite has been good all along the central coast from San Simeon to Ventura. The bite is best on blood or lug worms or the Berkley Gulp! sand worms.
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 first of the year will be May 1. This is a three-quarter day trip aboard the Pursuit out of 22nd Street that will probably be chasing yellowtail the way this season is shaping up, but might also focus on bass. Cost is $65 per person and limited to 35. The next trip will be May 6. This is an overnight trip on the Ultra out of 22nd Street Landing. The trip is limited to 10 anglers and the price is $224 per person. The charters are done until early spring. 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. 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.