|Is it just me, or does is it still kind of, I don't know, surreal, that we are getting this offshore season and the set-up looks so darn, well, nothing like the past few years?
It was this time last year that I got off the Red Rooster III right after the first bluefin of the year showed up. The eight to 15 pounders fed the souls of tuna starved anglers, and when the stuff pushed up and got on the pens it finally gave the local fleet something to work with come the last week of August in 2011.
But this year is a totally different deal. The long range fishing is just incredible. Local fishing is from good to excellent depending on how rainbows and butterflies you are and the "backyard"--as in fishing right off the coast could be next. A dorado was seen in the kelp at Box Canyon yesterday, Joey Helgren told me today. The last time he remembers something like that? Del Mar Kelp in 1983, right before the massive influx of everything tropical that made 1983 the year. (Just going off the stories, I was four.)
Andy Cates was off when I was on the Rooster last week--Captain Joe Crisci putting us on a sonar school that gave up 118 bluefin out of one drift was a highlight--but Cates was back at his old tricks today.
Here's the e mail he just shot me:
"We hada real nice first day wit an overall great grade. 90 Yellowfin from 25 to 45 pounds. A few looking to be in the 50-pound range. Bluefin from 15 to 35 pounds with 50 of those. Most of the Bluefin in the 25- to 30-pound range. Also in the mix: dorado on the kelps. Tomorrow we will be offshore again and hoping for another great day. One long drift in the morning and one spot with everyone has one on style fishing. Nice"
It's been nice close to home, too. With skiffs getting out below the 43 and in as close as the Nine Mile Bank scoring dorado and yellowtail. And the overnight sportboat fishing has been killer for the chosen ones while some trips meet the fate that comes with the pressure of fishing offshore: missing.
Last night I typed up some 2,600 words for the Rooster "shorty" (full story in following issue, a column on blending old school and new school tactics, and a feature on starting with heavy line (like 40 or 50) and going lighter (25) and then finally going to the lightest (20) if all else fails and the set-up allows it, e.g. the whole boat is not going to be waiting just on you if (or when) you hook up. And today was spent calling all the landings and skippers and hearing about the week that was and what this week looks like it has in store.
Check it out in the paper this week.
Oh, and inshore prospects haven't changed just 'cause offshore has got with it. Helgrens had 4 halibut to 47 pounds on the Sea Trek Saturday, a few yellowtail along the beach, and the Channel Islands are still the best place for a shot at a croaker. (Above Point Conception is really the place, or places.) It's going to be quite the salt section this week.
In the meantime, here's Dale Hightower of H&H Outdoor Marketting with one of the many bluefin he got his hand on during the Rooster trip last week. The grade is beautiful, eh?