|Well, this blog is going down at Sitka, Alaska's Frontier Charters, pretty much as far away as possible from the bluefin bite that long range boats are getting into within 5-day range above Alijos Rocks.
This bluefin thing is for real, with some good hits and some flat out wide-open action on 50s to 70s on the Shogun last night. (My boat partner John Keeler is on the trip, so he's going from 50-pound seabass to 50-plus-pound bluefin.)
Here's the rundown (AKA I didn't have time to do a unique blog so here's a sneak peak as to what's in the paper this week) on the bluefin that I typed up before heading out for halibut and salmon today with a great group of WON readers that are on this unique Alaska trip. But first, some pictures from the Royal Star (two of the BFT were over 100 pounds and they had around 80 fish in two days; oh and Randy Toussaint put the boat on the first albacore of the year while heading back out on another 8-day trip yesterday. Yes, it's on!
It takes a 5-day trip to get into the zone that is kicking out—hands down—the best bluefin fishing since the early 2000s
BY BRANDON HAYWARD
WON Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO — It didn’t take long for the long range fleet to get on the first bluefin of the young offshore season, as the first 8-day trips of the spring put together some good hits on the best grade of biting bluefin seen in many, many years.
Still, despite some great scores on bluefin that had a few top the 100 pound mark, it was news on Sunday that Randy Toussaint on the Royal Star found the first albacore of the season while on the second day of a Baja Fish Gear 8-day trip that really ramped up interest on the offshore front. The albacore, and the American Angler scoring a bluefin within 100 miles on a 8-day of its own that also cashed in on bluefin to go with news that the Shogun got into a “ripper” on 60- to 80-pound bluefin within 5-day range, has the long range prospects looking the best they have in many, many springs.
The bluefin hits started mid week, when Tim Ekstrom and Toussaint were running the first 8-day of the season on the Royal Star that got on the first big bluefin of the season and strung together a couple of encouraging days on the bluefin after fishing Alijos Rocks. (Cliff’s Notes from the Stones: colder water, good yellowtail, not much sign of yellowfin tuna.)
It was classic “old school” bluefin fishing, as in biting good-grade bluefin on the flyline sardines to go with no commercial pressure. In fact, it kicked off the first real scores on big bluefin in the era of fluorocarbon and small two-speed reels—two things that all anglers on upcoming long range trips should be rigged up with.
“Today there were no boats, no pens, no planes, just us and a whole sea of opportunity to ourselves,” reported Ekstrom after day one of the bluefin action on Wednesday. “We didn't score big in numbers but in significance and relative proportion we made a big score.”
Two stops gave up 24 bluefin averaging 60 to 70 pounds, to go with the first 100 pounder of the season that hit the scale at 106 on the boat.
The second day on the bluefin showed that this bluefin stuff has some legs to it, as 38 bluefin hit the deck, topped by another one coming in over 100 at 100.2 pounds.
The American Angler also got in on the first big bluefin hits, as the boat was at Alijos when the Royal Star put together its first day on the bluefin; by day two of the bite, the American Angler was in the zone and scored over 40 of the 60 to 75 pound bluefin. The first day of June had the Angler find some of the smaller grade bluefin, with some 18 to 20 pounders in the mix to go with the 60- to 75-pound stuff. Again, around 40 bluefin hit the deck. And then word came that a bluefin was caught while wrapping up the trip closer to home within 100 miles.
The Shogun was the first boat to take off on an 8-day trip and be able to run right to the bluefin zone. By Sunday Captain Aaron Barnhill had a couple of great days under his belt already when the boat slid on a spot that he described as giving up “absolute ripper” style fishing on 50- to 80-pound bluefin. Hot and heavy flyline sardine action and bites on the kite full speed was the report. And this was after the first day was filled with action on not just the big bluefin, but also 20 pounders and 30 to 40 pounders, which shows there is a lot of mixed-grade fish around.
It takes a 5-day to get into the bluefin zone, but with more boats getting off the docks with the first week of June it will be interesting to see how the early offshore season goes down.