Northern CA Saltwater

San Diego: Counts dip but quality excellent, tuna for Thanksgiving!

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: Nov 27, 2019

SAN DIEGO — A tuna season to remember continued over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, although counts dipped after a mid-week storm passed through. They’d been up to limit style early in the week. A second set of foul weather was due just after press time, and one has to wonder what conditions we’ll find when it’s blown over.

One of the better counts of the weekend came from the Game Changer , Point Loma Sportfishing, which fished U.S. waters for limits of bluefin, 26 yellowtail and 90 yellowfin on a 2.5-day trip — it can’t really be late November, can it?

A COUPLE NICE bluefin on the Grande Saturday. Even when the tuna bite was off, there were still opportunities to make memories and have fun fishing.

On Saturday, out of the same landing, the New Lo-An tallied 69 bluefin from 20 to 60 pounds and 10 yellowfin at 20 to 30 pounds, another nice score.

H&M’s Old Glory has been out on daily overnights when the weather permits, and Sunday’s 36 bluefin and 7 yellowfin for 26 anglers came in at a fish and a half per rod. The same day, the Grande full-day boat pulled 38 yellowfin for 40 anglers. The Producer, fishing a 1.5-day, roped 70 yellowfin and 4 bluefin for 20 anglers! Given the advanced calendar and the opportunities those counts present, that’s good fishing.

Even when the fish haven’t been biting, there’s been great sign. “Don’t fall in or the bluefin might eat you,” the San Diego full-day out of Seaforth Sportfishing posted on Facebook Sunday with video of a sonar plugged with tuna. That day the boat’s anglers captured 27 bluefin from 20 to 65 pounds. Just a day earlier the count was 100-plus yellowfin and some big bluefin.

Also out of Seaforth, the Pride ran a full-day trip Saturday, and 15 anglers caught 68 yellowfin and 8 bluefin. The bluefin were 50 to 100 pounds. The Tribute, on a 1.5-day, ran into the better grade of bluefin, and while they caught some most anglers were outgunned. “Our first stop of the day was a bit humbling as we went 10 out of probably 50-plus on the 50- to 110-pound bluefin. Anything under 40 on these fish was too light. They ended with 14 bluefin and 41 yellowfin.

heavytomahawkHEAVY — A Tomahawk bluefin. Bring the heavier gear or risk heartbreak. While the numbers are down a bit, the grade of fish out there is outstanding.

On Sunday the Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing whiffed (it happens), catching only 1 yellowfin and 5 bluefin, and the day before 15 yellowfin and 6 bluefin, but posted, “The volume of fish we saw today was very impressive, probably as good as it gets machine-wise. On all of our stops you had a chance of catching all sizes of fish, both yellowfin and bluefin.”

The San Diego also posted, “We’ve been very blessed and grateful for the opportunity to catch tuna this far into the year. In years past, we would be catching sculpin and rockfish in November. But tuna fishing has been the norm now a day. Regardless of the slow days we have at times, we have to keep in mind that the tuna fishing phenomenon that we’re experiencing is something that we will talk about for many years to come.”

Yet the extra range and more fishing time provided by longer trips provided some “catch insurance.” Over the weekend the Tomahawk, Fisherman’s Landing, running overnights, turned in 41 yellowtail, 33 yellowfin, and 4 bluefin topping out at 120 pounds on Sunday. Saturday’s count featured 27 yellowtail, 18 yellowfin and 3 bluefin up to 90 pounds.

The take-away is there’s quality out there. H&M Landing was advising anglers to bring 25- to 50-pound setups, at a minimum to give anglers a chance of besting a burly bluefin, along with spools of the appropriate pound test fluorocarbon.

On the San Diego local front, the half-day scene has been all about the more dependable rockfish bite. The Premier fished a.m. and p.m. half-days, for counts averaging about 3 fish per rod, but notably, 19 calicos were in the afternoon count.

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