Long Range

Long Range Report: Big local bluefin and island yellowfin hit the decks

Fleet trickles out after the holiday

BY GUNDY GUNDERSON/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Dec 31, 2019

SAN DIEGO — After a memorable December with lots of trophy yellowfin and bluefin tuna caches, the fleet ended the year still enjoying excellent hauls. Both bluefin tuna and Guadalupe Island yellowfin greeted post-holiday long range anglers as the fleet picked up where it left off before Christmas. Several trips, including cow trips, departed this week. As January approaches, it is safe to say the bluefin tuna are wintering in the eastern Pacific.

Star fishes local

jamesscarcellarsJAMES SCARCELLA WITH a 100-plus-pound bluefin tuna taken on the Star. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL STAR SPORTFISHING

The Royal Star scheduled a short trip to take advantage of the wintering bluefin tuna in local waters. Capt. Brian Sims was at the wheel of the storied fishing vessel and delivered this first report after Christmas Day, “We are out on the water. We departed this morning on a three-day trip. I decided to stay on the local coast for the afternoon. We saw some yellowtail, but couldn’t get on them. We will be offshore tomorrow hunting bluefin tuna.”

The next day, the boat found exactly what it was looking for, and Sims reported, “We worked offshore in good and improving weather and saw spots of 100- to 200-plus- pound bluefin coming up on bait schools throughout the day. The fish would let us get close, then ignore all of our offerings. It was exciting, but not what we were hoping for. We will be looking for bluefin in another area tomorrow.”

For late December, the sign of fish was excellent. The last day of the trip, the boat found the school they were looking for. “Salvation. We worked down ‘till mid-morning before thinking we were in the right water. We saw a couple of schools before lunch for a handful of boils, but no biters. Then shortly after lunch, we had one stick and bite. The hours of searching paid solid dividends as we had up to 10 going for a while. Just before the sun went down, they quit biting. The bluefin ranged in size from 35 to 120 pounds with 5 over 100, and the bulk of the fish from 60 to 80 pounds. We will be in at 07:30 tomorrow with these beautiful after-Christmas tuna.”

Angler departs

dandywinterlupeaaDANDY WINTER ’LUPE yellowfin landed on the American Angler. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICAN ANGLER SPORTFISHING


The American Angler also sailed out of San Diego Harbor after the holiday embarking on an 8-day trip scheduled at a good time with many options. The boat was headed south and sent this message, “We are back on the ocean along with the rest of the fleet on Dec. 26th for our first annual Taro Special 8 Day Trip. It is nice to be back on the grounds. We have a couple nice ones on board already.”

Intrepid 3-day

The Intrepid also scheduled a post holiday 3-day and found good coastal fishing. Capt. Bill Cavanaugh filed this report upon return, “We returned this morning from our Christmas 3-day trip at 0930 this morning. We had decent yellowtail action to go with some good calico bass, whitefish, sheephead and rockfish. We made an attempt at bluefin tuna last night and found one small school for no bites. Our weather was nice all trip and the food was amazing.”

Supreme coastal yellowtail

A FAT DECEMBER grouper taken on a small yellowfin tuna aboard the Supreme. PHOTO COURTESY OF POLARIS SUPREME SPORTFISHING

A recent trip on the Polaris Supreme was another example of the changing dynamics of long range fishing and the ability of the fleet to evolve. With Benitos and Cedros Islands closed to the fleet, many boats are developing new and old spots along the coast. A December trip posted this report, “Today we had our sights set on yellowtail. We started the morning picking at a great grade of yellows. Shortly after lunch it really turned on. We finished the day with an excellent forktail catch. The yellows were all great size, ranging from18 to 25 pounds. It was a great way to fill the remaining slots we had in our limits.”

The report finished, “All the fish were caught on yo-yo jigs and dropper loops. We could not have asked for better December yellowtail fishing to finish up our trip.”

BILL GURNER WITH his 4th cow, a 275 pounder taken on the lower banks aboard the Red Rooster III on a December trip. PHOTO COURTESY OF RED ROOSTER SPORTFISHING

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