Southern CA Saltwater

Fall fishing here, yellowfin draw near

BY MERIT McCREA/WON Staff WriterPublished: Sep 13, 2017

SAN DIEGO — This season's ever-larger bluefin bite continued, with every bank seeming to have a complement. The only question was, would they bite? And early last week, the chew was on for all, ebbing to what has been the standard all season long. Some spots bite, many don't. One never knew whether it would be 40 pounders or 200 pounders, and as the quality went up, of course, the number landed came down, unless they went crazy and bit 100-pound and folks were ready with it.

PAUL BARRIOS GOT it done, finishing off a beautiful 130-pound blue aboard the Condor.

But the newest news was the yellowfin tuna, good numbers of which had moved within striking range of the 3/4-day fleet as of Saturday. Capt. Steve Petersen said they had moved in nicely in the last few days.

The Mission Belle 3/4-day boated 45 of them, along with 45 skipjack Saturday, all on a lucky kelp. But there were fish to be had on blind jig strikes, tern birds and open-water sonar marks.

The overnight boats crushed them too, of course, the Tribute with 71 for 27, the Grande had 62 with 27 anglers and on Friday, the Voyager had 70 for just 17 anglers. Mixed in were skipjack tuna, too.

Coronado Island-bound 3/4-day boats put the wood to the yellows once again, with boat scores at near 100 per boat. The San Diego topped with 29 at 121 forks. The following day they had just 13 anglers in classic fall fishing style, wide-open bite and lots of deck space, limits at 65 yellowtail. The Liberty docked with 27 anglers and 93 yellows on their Friday 3/4-day. Mission Belle had a day at the island for 117, followed by 120 — limits for 24, the next.

The best tackle for 3/4-day was 25- and 30-pound tackle, 1/0 to 3/0 live bait hooks, depending on bait size, and a fly-lined lively sardine. Anglers fishing 130- to 160-gram Flat-Falls scored and yo-yo style did well, too.

SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND BLUEFIN — Jim Bashara of Fallbrook hefts a 60-pound bluefin tuna caught aboard the Prowler while just southwest of San Clemente Island. Bashara was fishing a 1.5-day and hooked the tuna, soaking a sardine during a long drift. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Out on the U.S. waters bluefin banks, scores covered the map. The Condor was out with 21 anglers on a 1.5 dayer and they bit hard. In the end they landed 24, all 90 to over 150 pounds. There were a few trips where the fish won, and only a handful or fewer of the biggies were landed.

Other trips found biting 50 pounders and stacked on numbers. The Ranger 85 found biting 30 to 50 pounders and ended the day with 36 in the fish hold.

The 2-day and longer trips continued to connect with eager 10- to 20-pound yellowfin and the Producer pulled 65 fish, limits for 13 anglers on the second day of a 2-day trip.

Capt. Scott McDaniels, owner of the Sea Adventure 80 said, "Bluefin can be seen for miles when the massive schools are on the feed. Big bluefin bust the water and throw lots of white water." He rightfully noted that it's been 100 years since these big fish were so common in our local waters. Back then they spawned the early development of our modern-day purse seine fleet.

The best gear recommendation for fishing anywhere those bluefin might be lurking was bring it all. Especially be ready with 60-pound, or better yet, 80-pound, including a fluorocarbon leader, all on a 2-speed reel.

The big glow Flat-Falls were a good bet at dawn and dusk, while live bait was better during daylight, either sinker fishing or on the fly-line. Captains couldn't stress enough how important the heavy line and 2-speed reel combos were to being successful and having a shot at landing a big bluefin.

SEAFORTH SPORTFISHING’S San Diego skippered by Ryan Bostian is running into outstanding mixed-bag action at the Coronados as well as U.S. waters.

ranger85crewmanRANGER 85 CREWMAN Shane Winton and angler Jack Galouska. This trip they had 52 bluefin tuna, up to 146 pounds.

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