By: Terrence Berg
LONG RANGE UPDATE: The long, long-range trips running out of San Diego to the giant tuna grounds off the tip of Baja continue to find exceptional fish. Royal Polaris was returning from its most recent trip and reported limits of 270 wahoo on board along with 175 quality yellowfin, including 18 at 200 pounds or more. There were also some reports this week of fish into the 300-pound class on other boats fishing now, so it looks like the giants are finally starting to show in this bite.
CORTEZ AND TANNER BANK BLUEFIN TUNA: San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles county landings are running boats out to the Cortez and Tanner banks for the unprecedented bluefin tuna action that has carried over from last year. The bite was even better in recent days as even more yellowtail moved on the banks to join the bluefin. Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing was on a 1.5-day trip Feb. 3 with 32 anglers who landed 58 bluefin, 139 yellowtail and 12 bonito. The same boat had 17 anglers land 143 bluefin, seven bonito and one skipjack on Jan. 30. This is nearly full, 10-fish limits on bluefin. (No, the limit hasn’t been cut to two yet, but soon.) Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing was out Feb. 3 with 24 anglers and they had 18 bluefin and 42 yellowtail. The bluefin are mostly 22 to 26 pounds with some larger fish and a few smaller. The yellowtail are like the ones showing in Baja waters and all along the Southern California coast line, running mostly from 18 to 22 pounds, unheard of this time of year.
MEXICAN YELLOWTAIL: The 1.5-day to 2.5-day trips running out of San Diego Landings and heading south along the Baja coast in the Colonet region are finding exceptional yellowtail fishing, along with very good rockfish and ling cod action. Many San Diego boats are splitting their trips between this bite and the bluefin tuna bite to the west. For example, Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a 1.5-day trip south (sandwiched between two bluefin trips) and the 33 anglers on board landed 40 yellowtail, 180 rockfish, and 33 ling cod. Pacific Queen, on a bluefin trip Feb. 3, was at Colonet over the weekend with 33 anglers who landed 103 yellowtail, 35 rockfish and 22 lings. Chief out of H&M Landing was on a two-day trip with 31 anglers and they landed 163 yellowtail, limits (310) of rockfish, 78 ling cod and one bonito. The weekend trips were in rainy bumpy weather and it didn’t slow the fishing a bit.
LOCAL YELLOWTAIL: While many of the boats in the fleet are in port now doing annual repairs and clean-up, the yellowtail action all along the coast has been good for private boaters fishing from San Diego up into the Channel Islands. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing in San Diego is one of the few boats going out targeting local yellows. On its morning half day on Feb. 4, there were 60 yellowtail landed. A morning trip one day earlier had 11 yellows while the afternoon trip had 54. Fishing in the La Jolla and Point Loma region in deeper water, the scores for the San Diego half-day boats have been running from just a couple to over 50. The Dana Wharf boats are also still getting in on this bite. Sum Fun’s three-quarter day trip with 27 anglers returned with 36 yellowtail. Helena, also on a three-quarter day trip, had 13 anglers who landed 18 yellowtail. Both trips were on Feb. 4.
CHANNEL ISLANDS BONITO: There continue to be at least two or three boats a weekend running out of Channel Islands Sportfishing looking for yellowtail and bonito. While the yellowtail were tough over the week, the bonito continue to provide good to excellent fishing. The three-quarter day Gentleman had 25 anglers on Jan. 31 and they had 125 bonito along with around 2,500 sand dabs. Gentleman has been running almost daily sand dab trips and been averaging from four to five bonito. Erna B, also on a three-quarter day boat on Jan. 31, had 16 anglers who landed 40 bonito and the only yellowtail of the weekend.
SURF PERCH NEWS: There is a very good barred surf perch bite all along the central coast from San Simeon to Ventura with a lot of two to three-pound fish reported. The bite is good on blood or lug worms or the Berkley Gulp! sand worms.
LOBSTER UPDATE: The lobster fishing at Catalina Island has remained pretty good. Gail Force out of Pierpoint Landing was at Catalina the final weekend of January and had limits of lobster for all 10 passengers. Along the coast the action has been tougher with from one to two bugs per person.
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 charters are over for this fall/winter and won’t start again until early spring. 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. 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.