Update: the next boat to be the one to get a shot at the 100-pound bluefin (as talked about below) was the Red Rooster III. A shot for 23 last night and then 37 from 75 to over 100 this morning is what Captain Andy Cates' e mail said this morning. Talk about getting some!
So this is what the 2012 wound up being?
A May to August seabass season along the beach that many, including myself, will call even better than the 2010 season that many thought would never be toppled?
Offshore fishing that surprised pretty much everyone, as the last two years of cold water got swept away and local waters got flooded with dorado, while getting down from 60 to 100 plus miles from Point Loma has given up the best “local” bluefin fishing in over a decade to go with this yellowfin that, if it pushes up, is going to make for an incredible fall in local waters. If this yellowfin will just get over the border and in tight to the beach and the local ¾-day boats can get tuna to go with the dorado and mostly baby yellowtail, it’s going to be a season for the books. Or at the very least the yellowfin could push up and find the bluefin schools, the collision course creating overnight tuna fishing at its finest. It seems like at least once a week a boat has a run in with those 60 to 100-plus-pound bluefin. Here’s the biggest so far this season, a 202 pounder caught by Gary Schall on the Excel. The bait? Live squid.
Oh, and lest we forget the huge albacore that have been pretty standard in the counts, with single digits to up to 18 albacore caught on the overnight and 1.5-day trips.
It’s been good, and the next couple of weeks certainly could see the fall season take some interesting shifts. One of the more recent developments going towards the new moon was that of market squid showing up on the tops of the banks like the 14 Mile and around the kelps. Everything has been coughing up squid. And there’s some of that foot-and-a-half to two-foot-or-so Humboldt squid around. On Monday I saw Billy Miyagawa down on the dock in Dana Point Harbor. He said he saw dorado chasing around the bigger squid while they were fishing day one in the Zane Grey. (Look’s like the Chaser with Captain Jimmy Kingsmill took down the $9,600 first prize.)
Even with all the hot water around, there’s been squid all along the beach, and the squid cycle as continued through even after all the cold water has pushed away. A first for me, one that even Mark Wisch has never heard of? When the water was at it’s warmest, I had seabass along North County in 76.7 degree water. They call it the candy bait, and everything has been eating it this year. The savvy, hard working skiff guys bringing the candy offshore have caught everything from dorado to bluefin on it. There’s been a few stories of full-on wide-open bites for those with the squid while those with finbait only watched the kelp paddy dorado and yellowtail and go bonkers over the squish! Kind of sounds like island yellowtail and white seabass bites, huh?
It used to be that squid was a fall, the-water-is-cooling-off deal at the islands, but the last few seasons it’s been like April is the only month with no real sign of squid. But will the hot water end the squid cycle? I’ve heard from more than one commercial squid guy that they are thinking that this last wad could be the end of the cycle.
But it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen, because the fishing going on right now is unlike any cycle that even the oldest of old timers have fished through. It’s like the total mixing pot, the total confluence events, one where there’s still squid and seabass in water along the beach—did you see the 60 and 49 pounders in this week’s WON that were caught on the Aloha Spirit? By historical, this-is-how-it-was-in-the-past standards, it is “way too hot for either squid or seabass” while the bluefin fishing keeps getting better and the yellowfin tuna are not pushing up the line like one would think for a September that has water in the low 70s just about everywhere.
The crowds are already thinning out, although it’s impossible to find a spot on an offshore trip over the weekend. Still, the days of 70 skiffs on a kelp mid week are gone.
Even bigeye showing up aren’t going to change that. The best fishing is right now. Pretty standard for the second week of September. And guess what? all signs point to this October living up to it's billing: not as many people trying, but plenty to try for.
Now is the time to get out there and do stuff not possible in years past, like tank up on squid and go squid fishing or jump on an overnight trip and hope that the big gear gets put to use on 100-plus-pound bluefin.