Southern CA Saltwater

San Diego: Outer Limits scores 330 bluefin tuna

BY MERIT McCREA/WON Staff WriterPublished: Aug 14, 2019

SAN DIEGO — Offshore crews put in huge effort and made big scores. The opportunity was split between finding the right kelp some 70-plus miles south and loading up on yellows, and running west to take a chance on landing huge bluefin, almost all in excess of 100 pounds, with some over 300. The average target was close to 200.

DAVID DUNHAM AND crew with a 330.27-pound bluefin on his annual Outer Limits charter with Capt. Paul Fischer.

There was a nice mixed grade of yellowtail in wide open bites to be had on kelp paddies offshore of Erendira. But from day to day it was taking the entire fleet to find and track the 3 or 4 that were holding heavy.

Opposite that opportunity were Cow Town bluefin off the east end of San Clemente Island. The spread moved up the west side of the island as the week went on, following last season's pattern.

This made multi-day trips a big advantage, offering the opportunity to tackle both, and the ability to make the previous day's discoveries pay off the following morning as this writer witnessed aboard the Legend.

While we'd found a pair of paddies fully loaded on day one of a 2.5 dayer, they'd been already milked of their daily allotment of biters. The following morning, however, it was game on and wide open yellowtail fishing for the first few drifts on each.

Brightly colored dorado spiced up the action and a blind jig-strike on a striped marlin made our day. We'd end up with over 130 yellowtail, 14 dorado, plus a skipjack and the marlin for those few hardy souls who'd stuck to the rail manning the trolling gear.

Early in the week this writer received a call from a good friend, David Dunham, his 2.5-day charter aboard the Outer Limits with skipper Paul Fischer had fished both with great success, topped by a huge 330.27-pound super cow bluefin tuna.

The 22 cowboys on his trip hammered 78 yellows and 3 dorado on one day and a pair of huge bluefin the other. They all shared in the bluefin action and its results.

Other highlights included a 306-pound bluefin aboard theSea Adventure 80, among 8 of the big blues. The Ocean Odyssey had 123 yellows and 8 dorado fishing the southern sector.

deckloadedpacificDECKLOADED PACIFIC BLUEFIN along the Outer Limits' transom. They had a 2.5-day for 17 fish all over 100 pounds, 7 of which weighed between 240 and 300 pounds each. The crew's expert kite work fishing frozen flying fish got 50 bites on the big fish.

Late breaking news had Capt. Mike Kowalski reporting a 15-person overnight charter aboard the Tomahawk finding 40 yellowfin Sunday, the only score of its kind for the week and possibly a sign of things to come.

Dunnham said they sent their 2 big bluefin into the processors and shared the catch among the group, rather than it being winner take all- luck of the draw on the kite rotation.

But then the big news came as the Outer Limits pulled in on its subsequent trip with a crew from up in Oregon. This writer heard it from Dunnham first, soon to be followed by a text from SAC President Ken Franke – "Sixteen BFT (6 in the 240-300 lb. range), 10 from 100-200... Sounds like an incredible story... What a show!"

There had been 19 anglers on that trip and Fischer related a final score that included 7 cows 240 and better, and the 10 in the 100s. He said all the action came on frozen flying fish on the kite.

They were able to load up the rail with guys fighting up to 5 fish at once. But at that point it stretched the crew thin between the tasks of keeping the lines clear, rigging baits and flying the kite, and gaffing fish.

He said because it took all hands to throw one of those fish over the rail, "You might have 5 going, go to gaff one and end up with just 3 left," having had one bust off in the interim.

Fischer said they'd had 50 bites in 3 drifts to get the 17 fish they'd landed.

Across the fleet a more typical result fishing kite-rigged flyers for the day was 2 to a handful of the big fish on deck. The more successful groups passed the rod to fresh hands as needed, reducing the number of errors that come with increasing fatigue, while keeping full pressure on the big fish full time.

Working those big bluefin as a team and sharing the catch definitely offered advantages. It also helped skippers and crews rationalize spending the time to target these big fish when it wasn't such a winner-take-all dynamic.

Tackle on the super cow was a Shimano Tiagra reel, Izorline and a Seeker rod. For the marlin a vintage red Penn 6/0 loaded with Brutally Strong braid topped by 80-pound Izorline, on a Calstar rod was the rig. A standard, tuna sized Mexican flag pattern trolling jig caught the billfish's attention.

As for the local 1/2-day scene, anglers saw a bit more reliance on the rockfish resource while a fair level of catch and release bass fishing remained on tap.

Out at the Coronados the scenario was similar, with just a few yellowtail on tap, plus some bass and barracuda. For example the Liberty fished Saturday with 54 anglers landing 110 rockfish, 10 keeper calico, 5 barracuda and 3 yellows.

Anglers fishing offshore yellows on 1.5-day and longer trips saw catches generally close to 100 fish, with a few full misses in the mix and a few full limits trips too. Thursday the Pegasus limited with 90 of the forks for 18 anglers on a 1.5 dayer.

Monday the New Lo-An rocked it with 250 yellows for 25 — 2-day limits plus put 4 bluefin on deck. 31 dorado came with the kelp paddy fishing.

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