Dock Totals Dec 22 – Dec 28: 2,001 anglers aboard 66 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 272 bluefin tuna, 1 skipjack tuna, 1,657 yellowtail, 34 calico bass, 48 sand bass, 2,404 rockfish, 8 lingcod, 8 bonito, 757 whitefish, 119 sheephead, 159 sanddab, 6 halibut, 20 bocaccio, 1 opaleye, 2 rubberlip seaperch, 1 finescale triggerfish, and 46 spiny lobster.
Saltwater: Because boats were doing well on bluefin tuna and yellowtail this late in the season, I had to take a look back at last year’s counts during December. Yellowfin tuna, a few skipjack tuna and bluefin tuna pretty much shut down within 1.5 day range after the first week of December 2016, compared to this year with some boats getting limits on yellowtail and bluefin tuna in US waters as the year ends. All signs are good for the good bite to continue into January.
The normal wintertime local catch is groundfish, including sheephead, rockfish, whitefish and lingcod and though the pelagic species are getting a lot of attention, the bottom fishing has been excellent. Whitefish are biting in good numbers and are larger than the norm, as are sheephead. Another thing I noticed different than last year is that the favorite prey of larger sheephead — the spiny lobster — are in fewer numbers but larger than the average size bug caught last year. There were reports of over 300 raised with less than a dozen of them legal size. Many trips posted a one in twenty or higher ratio. This year, the legal to short ratio has been anywhere from one legal for every three raised to one out of ten.
A new ride in the fleet: One of the boats getting plenty of action this past year was the Eclipse out of Seaforth Sportfishing in Mission Bay’s Quivira Basin. After a haul out and with new ownership, captain, crew, upgrades and paint, the 68’ sportfisher originally built in 1980 is now boasting the moniker Tomahawk and will be back in the water in mid- to late February, most likely to start 1.5 to 2.5 day runs along the Baja coast. Coast Guard-inspected structural upgrades are completed and paint is in the final phases; the crew has plans for more aesthetic interior and galley projects between trips once she is back in the water and working.
Top boats of the week:
Dec 22 – 31 anglers aboard the Tribute overnight run caught limits of 62 bluefin tuna.
Dec 23 – The Oceanside 95 called in with limits of 42 bluefin tuna for the 21 anglers aboard their 1.5 day trip.
Dec 24 – The Aztec provided great fishing for their 29 anglers aboard a 1.5 day run, reporting 89 yellowtail along with limits of 58 bluefin tuna.
Dec 26 – 29 anglers aboard the Electra ½ day run had great local fishing with 3 bocaccio, 80 rockfish and 75 whitefish counted in the gunnysacks.
Dec 27 – 9 hoop-netters aboard the Alicia evening lobster trip raised 61 spiny lobsters, with 23 of them being legal sized keepers and the rest released. The Condor crew reported 2 bluefin tuna and 168 yellowtail for the 35 anglers aboard their overnight run.
Dec 28 – 21 anglers aboard the Aztec 1.5 day trip caught US limits of 210 yellowtail along with 3 bluefin tuna.
Fish Plants: 1/3 - Wohlford, trout (3,000), 1/9 – Cuyamaca, trout (1,200), 1/10 – Poway, trout (1,500)