Southern CA Saltwater

San Diego: Bluefin bonanza or banana?

BY MERIT McCREA/WON Staff Writer Published: Jun 11, 2019

Full-day boat San Diego pulls a cow!

SAN DIEGO — The bluefin tuna bite included a fair number of yellowfin tuna in the mix, big ones, and the grade of bluefin — outrageous. But... winning trips came down to finding a biting bunch in the time allotted, and for some, it never happened. It was almost literally, hero or zero — bonanza or banana. One rig would post limits on fish averaging over 80 pounds while another, only a fish or two, as success hinged on finding maybe just one bunch of fish that would stick and finally bite.

There were plenty of fish to see and it seemed fish watching improved through the day, with the lively areas under 60 miles from the dock.

FULL-DAY BOAT San Diego boated this 217-pound bluefin, the largest tuna ever aboard that boat.

Scattered kelps were everywhere, but none seemed to be holding. At times the waters were dotted with spots of breaking fish in every direction. Many seemed to be bluefin of just a few pounds, looking like 1/2-day bonito breezing by.

Others were 60 pounders, some all 80 to 100 and still others all well over the hump, 130- to 160-pound class. All seemed to be content to thrash spots of micro-bait.

While absolutely none of the tiny fish bit, occasionally one of spots with larger grade fish would stick under the boat. Steady chum and soaking baits might eventually turn them on to sardines – "activate" them. Or instead, they might drift away first.

Monday the Pacific Queen got ’em good, 61 big bluefin for 34 angers. Back out on Wednesday, zero bluefin and 5 yellowfin for 34 folks – ouch! Friday they were on an overnight run instead of a 1.5-day. The 34 folks landed 58 bluefin and a pair of yellowfin. Next trip, a 1.5 dayer for 56 yellowfin and 34 bluefin.

Scores were all over the board, one boat would miss, maybe 2 fish total and another would connect, limits! Success might hinge on a single decent stop after a day of searching and soaking.

The gear that worked was sinker rigs as well as fly-lined sardines. What didn't work was tossing iron or poppers into frothing fish. Many successful stops still featured fish barely biting a hot bait on 40-pound and a tiny circle hook.

With the average grade at 60 to well over 100 pounds, that tackle barely sufficed to finish a fish once hooked. Landing any more than half of what was hooked was considered an excellent salvage rate and there were stories of sitting in a stop for hours with 3 to 6 fish going at any given time, to end up with fewer than 10 fish in the box when the dust had cleared.

What's been landed depended a lot on what it was hooked on, and the crew of the full-day boat San Diego hooked one of the big boys, a 217 pounder on 60-pound gear. A sinker-rigged sardine did the trick. They got the fish, the largest tuna ever landed on the boat.

Congrats to Capt. Matt Bralla and crew!

Top scores included bluefin limits for 14 aboard the Chief and limits for 31 anglers aboard the New Lo-An – 62 of the big bruisers.

CARLA SOPHIA DEVILLAZ with her 145 pounder aboard the Old Glory.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Luna Sea Sports Ad
Advertise with Western Outdoor News