Bluefin tuna pens, singular now
I fished yesterday (Wednesday) out of San Diego on my buddy Bob Aronson’s 26-foot Sea Scoutwith another friend Bill Jubb (celebrating his birthday fishing with us offshore)and the three of us aboard limited out of yellowtail, dorado and scored two bluefin of 25 pounds near a paddy, one of about 15 we hit in perfect glasstop conditions.
Like a bunch of others in private boats, we were fishing outside Todos Santos Island about 15 miles, about 55 to 60 miles from San Diego. (Bob Vanion’s service 976-BITE.com keeps tabs on the current lat/lons of the pens. More might be added.) This bite at the pens has been going on for weeks, and my guess is that the season for dorado, kelp paddy yellows and tuna is going to be around for a while longer.
The idea was to fish the bluefin tuna pens, but the bite in recent days had been in gray light, and then that’s it until about 4 p.m. The original plan was to go to the inside pen because there had been an all-day bite on it Monday, but by Wednesday the inside pen had been towed back to the coast. We hit one paddy for five small yellows and a dorado beforegetting the bluefin itch. We heard the fish were feeding at the outer pen, located a few miles from our spot, but despite the quick run of 10 minutes, the bluefin bite was over.
That was at 6 a.m. Early means early.
Another friend, Floyd Sparks, or rather his friend Mike, was on Floyd’s Tuna Kahuna and was hooked up on a big bluefin on 20-pound line, and after more than an hour got a 50-pound bluefin. Nice catch on light stuff. But for us, it was a case of being a few minutes too late, so we went paddy hopping like a lot of others, and there was a wad of small yellows and even some dorado under a string of paddies. Fun for a while, but the small yellows and blue sharks chewed up our bait supply.
The general feeling was that we’d likely missed out on the bluefin, but it was such a beautiful day that paddy hopping on the troll was pretty nice, especially since every paddy seemed to have small forkies underneath.
The key to a good paddy is not to give up on it. But also not to stay on top of it. Tuna are often on the perimeter, and usually down deep.Chumming with chunk and keeping at it can produce the tuna.
After we’d drifted off a great paddy and hooked several small yellows, Bob and Bill hooked bigger fish, and it turned out they were 25-pound bluefin, and that made the day. We didn’t see the tuna again, but there were so many yellows chewing the remaining baits, who knows if more were still around?
Limits of dorado, yellows and two prime-meat bluefin were in the bags and on ice, and the trip ended with a 15-pound dorado on the cedar plug troll, fish, and then a 40-knot glass-top speed run to Shelter.
Sweet day, and a great way to celebrate a buddy’s birthday. A note to all: The best bet is 25-pound fluoro leader, 30-pound main line, 1/0 to 2/0 circle hooks. There are some bigger fish out there, and the better news is that the water temps were 72 degrees and they got up to 75 in the afternoon, I was told.Look for a good, long exotic season off our coast.
BILL JUBB left, and Bob Aaronson.
GREAT ALASKA TRIP! Last year the Alaska regs were a pretty tough on visitors looking for some halibut, but the old fish and game loosened the noose and this year fish up to 45 inches could be kept and that made all the difference for our WON group of 15 anglers.
Each year we host a couple of Alaska fishing trips, one at the beginning of the season with Frontier, and one at the end with Kingfisher. The group of 15 that I hosted last week was our biggest, and the combination of great silver salmon and halibut fishing – and perfect weather – made it a pretty easy assignment.
One of my favorite people on the trip the last two years has been Ron Nelson of Moreno Valley. The guy can hardly walk with a back that hurts me just to watch him walk. But he is a fishin’ fool and an inspiration. I’ll have a full feature on the trip and tons of pictures in an upcoming issue, but many thanks to Seth Bone and his Kingfisher staff and all the great folks who came on the trip. Same time, next year.
Now it’s time to get back into the local fishing game before the water turns frigid and I head to Cedros Island on another WON trip. There’s some great fishing out there but things are changing fast now. Get your licks in soon, or head up the coast for an albacore fix. The northern boats are seriously killin’ it on the tuna.
OUR SITKA group...
RON NELSON with this 43-pound halibut while on the WON trip Aug. 26-30.
Speaking of El Nino, Eat Lures owner John Boyer and his daughter Cindy were fishing offshore last week for albacore and Cindy grabbed a trolling troll with an Eat Me Cedar plug and caught a 15-pound dorado. No big deal down here, but that was in Westport, Oregon. First dorado catch I’ve heard of that far north.
A reality TV show is reportedly coming to fish our Cabo Tuna Jackpot Nov. 7-10. I saw the 5-minute trailer, and it’s a crackup. The “cast” is a veteran American fisherman (Sarge), a top Mexican charterboat, and a rookie film crew laced with a few hotties and a film crew chief who looks like he should be a barista in a Bay Area coffee house. Four tournaments, 13 episodes. Three episodes have been shot and they will be down from October through mid-November. Might be fun. The link to the video is https://vimeo.com/45417885.
Speaking of Baja fishing, the East Cape and its beach launching of sportfishers and pangas will never be the same. Cabo Rivera’s marina opened in La Ribera. Planned are285 slips, small boat ramp, marina office, weigh scales, andtwo hotels, 382 homesites with private dockage and a Robert Trent Golf Course. Our first Baja columnist Ray Cannon is probably rolling over in his grave, and Fred Hoctor, now 10 years after his passing, is probably wondering why it took so long. And laughing about something or other. I really miss that guy.
The WON Ensenada tournament will likely be back next year, with a slightly new format, and the same dates, late July. Look for an epic albie year next time, as the fish always show up strong after an El Nino. There will be one offshore division for dorado, tuna and yellowtail, three fish total weight) and an inshore division, rockfish, bass and halibut). The lack of an inshore division hurt participation when the weather offshore soured.
Final note on tournaments: We’re expanding and changing in 2013. Just as a heads up, the Catalina WSB tourney format will likely change next year. Islands fishing only. No coastal fishing will be allowed. No point to having an island event if a big coastal tanker wins it each year, which now the trend.For coastal guys who might be miffed, another WON saltwater tournament will be addedin June, Coastal only, but the same format and species will count (halibut, WSB, yellowtail). A WON sand bass event is also in the works for 2013.