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Go fishing now, before El Niño departs

The chew will go away when water temps return to normal

Fat yellowtail hooked in 11 feet of water just outside San Quintin Bay.
Fat yellowtail hooked in 11 feet of water just outside San Quintin Bay.

The summer of 2015 may be about to pass into the history books, but the fishing is still going strong and there is no sign of it changing much in the near future. As long as the warm 70+ degree water keeps pushing north, yellowfin, skipjack, dorado and yellowtail will be on the chew. Beginning with last year's remarkable catches of wahoo, tuna and dorado so close to home, continuing with bluefin on the Cortez and Tanner banks through the winter, amazing yellowtail action in the spring and this year's wide-open summer, this has been a solid two-year season.

Even so, the fish reports can get a bit monotonous. It's basically a surprise if a sportboat goes out and doesn't load up on tuna and dorado. But it is still fishing and occasionally a boat doesn't find any schools of tunny or any kelp paddies to chuck a baited hook or jig at. Over the last two years, this is a rare thing.

Get out and enjoy this phenomenon in the local fishery when work schedules and duties allow, as that is what it is and has been for a dozen and a half months: phenomenal fishing. I remember the years following the last big El Niño event in '97-98, when the fishing slowed again and the water turned back to its normal and somewhat chilly cycles in the San Diego area. During the summers from 1999 through 2003, though, there were occasional flurries of dorado action close to San Diego and the white seabass fishing of the kelp edges was crazy-good. The comeback of the white seabass was mostly due to changes in the commercial fishing regulations, science, and the restocking program that began in the mid-'80s. This year, I think it has been too warm and not many of the large croakers have been caught, though there are a few around. Overall, this amazing fishing is not usual for San Diego.

Usually, summertime water temps don't get above 70 degrees and are at that only a few weeks in late July and August. 68 is about the norm for the rest of the summer. Usually, hammerhead sharks and humpback whales don't venture near these waters, though we do get our fair share of makos, threshers, and blue whales. Usually, tuna aren't caught in L.A. Harbor and dorado aren't swimming beside the Queen Mary. Those locals are more apt to a few mackerel and queenfish. Usually, maybe never before, wahoo aren't caught in American waters in the Pacific Ocean. Usually, a kayak angler can't paddle out from the beach and catch tuna and dorado just outside. (I now have a Tom Jones song stuck in my head.)

I live about 200 miles south of San Diego in the small farming town of San Simon. From a little bit south of here and up to Punta Banda near Ensenada, there is a cold water plume due to deep canyons and upwelling. This is a fantastic rockfish, lingcod and halibut fishery that also boasts regular spring-summer visits of very large white seabass. Yellowtail aren't as temperature-sensitive as tuna and can be caught in good numbers along this stretch of coast. In the summer, yellowfin and dorado can be caught outside of that plume, some 10 to 20 miles offshore. When folks think Baja, they usually aren't thinking cooler water and rockfish. That is what this piece of the peninsula is, cooler than San Diego and somewhat reminiscent of central and northern California fishing.

Even with the El Nino, this has been a more usual summer here in the San Quintin area, except for the small numbers of white seabass. Warmer water up and down the coast outside of the cool water plume may explain that, as to a cold-blooded fish, a few degrees change in water in a short distance can act like a wall and divert them in the direction of their optimum temp range.

For my part, I have been fishing this past week daily, getting up and out by 5 a.m. and back late, weary and spent. We caught yellowtail, barracuda, lots of big calico bass to seven pounds and a few rockfish. Yesterday, we checked out the warm water on the outside where tuna, dorado and marlin have been caught to no avail. After four or five hours of trolling and squinting at the near horizon, we packed it in and went to fish San Martin Island, where we found the large calicos willing to play.

This was, by far, the best calico fishing I have ever experienced. At times, it was a five pounder on almost every cast. As the day went on, remnants of Hurricane Linda chose to put a little wind and rain on us, but it was mostly just hot and humid. That is, until we called it a day and started our run in. It got hairy...real hairy for a bit, but we made it in safe and sound...even though a few folks were starting to worry.

A 20' panga can get really small sometimes, but that's a story I still have to sort out in my head before I can get it written. Just know, unlike my head..it was hairy. So I took a week off from the counts to do a little fishing myself. The fish report for this last week is basically this: A lot of people got on a lot of boats and caught a lot of tuna, yellowtail and dorado.

Get out, enjoy and be safe.

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Fat yellowtail hooked in 11 feet of water just outside San Quintin Bay.
Fat yellowtail hooked in 11 feet of water just outside San Quintin Bay.

The summer of 2015 may be about to pass into the history books, but the fishing is still going strong and there is no sign of it changing much in the near future. As long as the warm 70+ degree water keeps pushing north, yellowfin, skipjack, dorado and yellowtail will be on the chew. Beginning with last year's remarkable catches of wahoo, tuna and dorado so close to home, continuing with bluefin on the Cortez and Tanner banks through the winter, amazing yellowtail action in the spring and this year's wide-open summer, this has been a solid two-year season.

Even so, the fish reports can get a bit monotonous. It's basically a surprise if a sportboat goes out and doesn't load up on tuna and dorado. But it is still fishing and occasionally a boat doesn't find any schools of tunny or any kelp paddies to chuck a baited hook or jig at. Over the last two years, this is a rare thing.

Get out and enjoy this phenomenon in the local fishery when work schedules and duties allow, as that is what it is and has been for a dozen and a half months: phenomenal fishing. I remember the years following the last big El Niño event in '97-98, when the fishing slowed again and the water turned back to its normal and somewhat chilly cycles in the San Diego area. During the summers from 1999 through 2003, though, there were occasional flurries of dorado action close to San Diego and the white seabass fishing of the kelp edges was crazy-good. The comeback of the white seabass was mostly due to changes in the commercial fishing regulations, science, and the restocking program that began in the mid-'80s. This year, I think it has been too warm and not many of the large croakers have been caught, though there are a few around. Overall, this amazing fishing is not usual for San Diego.

Usually, summertime water temps don't get above 70 degrees and are at that only a few weeks in late July and August. 68 is about the norm for the rest of the summer. Usually, hammerhead sharks and humpback whales don't venture near these waters, though we do get our fair share of makos, threshers, and blue whales. Usually, tuna aren't caught in L.A. Harbor and dorado aren't swimming beside the Queen Mary. Those locals are more apt to a few mackerel and queenfish. Usually, maybe never before, wahoo aren't caught in American waters in the Pacific Ocean. Usually, a kayak angler can't paddle out from the beach and catch tuna and dorado just outside. (I now have a Tom Jones song stuck in my head.)

I live about 200 miles south of San Diego in the small farming town of San Simon. From a little bit south of here and up to Punta Banda near Ensenada, there is a cold water plume due to deep canyons and upwelling. This is a fantastic rockfish, lingcod and halibut fishery that also boasts regular spring-summer visits of very large white seabass. Yellowtail aren't as temperature-sensitive as tuna and can be caught in good numbers along this stretch of coast. In the summer, yellowfin and dorado can be caught outside of that plume, some 10 to 20 miles offshore. When folks think Baja, they usually aren't thinking cooler water and rockfish. That is what this piece of the peninsula is, cooler than San Diego and somewhat reminiscent of central and northern California fishing.

Even with the El Nino, this has been a more usual summer here in the San Quintin area, except for the small numbers of white seabass. Warmer water up and down the coast outside of the cool water plume may explain that, as to a cold-blooded fish, a few degrees change in water in a short distance can act like a wall and divert them in the direction of their optimum temp range.

For my part, I have been fishing this past week daily, getting up and out by 5 a.m. and back late, weary and spent. We caught yellowtail, barracuda, lots of big calico bass to seven pounds and a few rockfish. Yesterday, we checked out the warm water on the outside where tuna, dorado and marlin have been caught to no avail. After four or five hours of trolling and squinting at the near horizon, we packed it in and went to fish San Martin Island, where we found the large calicos willing to play.

This was, by far, the best calico fishing I have ever experienced. At times, it was a five pounder on almost every cast. As the day went on, remnants of Hurricane Linda chose to put a little wind and rain on us, but it was mostly just hot and humid. That is, until we called it a day and started our run in. It got hairy...real hairy for a bit, but we made it in safe and sound...even though a few folks were starting to worry.

A 20' panga can get really small sometimes, but that's a story I still have to sort out in my head before I can get it written. Just know, unlike my head..it was hairy. So I took a week off from the counts to do a little fishing myself. The fish report for this last week is basically this: A lot of people got on a lot of boats and caught a lot of tuna, yellowtail and dorado.

Get out, enjoy and be safe.

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