Yellowfin tuna are close to the normally cool water zone and are moving north. (Photo of catch at Old Mill, San Quintin)
Dock Totals July 23 – July 29: 6,210 anglers aboard 220 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 57 bluefin tuna, 129 yellowfin tuna, 1,810 dorado, 15,825 yellowtail, 3,069 calico bass, 162 sand bass, 2,907 rockfish, 144 sanddab, 8 lingcod, 1,127 bonito, 96 barracuda, 239 sculpin, 98 whitefish, 169 sheephead, 9 halibut, 1 cabezon, 1 yellowfin croaker, 4 mako shark (2 released) and 2 striped marlin (1 released).
Saltwater: This past week has been productive for the fleet, especially on yellowtail and dorado. The year-to-date numbers are up and this past week’s haul alone accounted for over one quarter of last year’s total yellowtail count (59.088) and nearly one third of the dorado caught (5.672) by the fleet in 2016. Down south along the Baja coast is no real exception, although just off San Quintin less than a dozen miles from the bay mouth, the first tuna of the year were brought in by the local fleet on Saturday, July 29, when the K&M crew found them and called in the rest of the fleet.
These yellowfin tuna are biting well in the 10- to 20-pound range and are eating everything from trolled feathers, flat-fall jigs, surface iron, and fly-lined bait. That the yellowfin tuna are close to the normally cool water zone and are moving north is a good sign for fishing up the line. Though these fish are a bit smaller than the average on both species being caught closer to San Diego, they are thick and willing, and anglers are taking advantage of the small-boat fishing for pelagics from pangas up to 25-foot Parkers. I expect the yellowfin numbers to rise dramatically for the overnight to 1.5-day boats out of San Diego.
The big bluefin are still around our local banks and occasional huge fish are coming over the rail, with a couple going over 300 pounds. As a lot of folks are fishing medium-weight tackle for the dorado, yellowtail and yellowfin tuna, when the big bluefin do roll up and decide to bite, invariably, several reels will be spooled and “zing, pow, $%!” will be heard on deck. The anglers having success on landing the brutish bluefin are geared up and ready to fish the 100-pound test gear on 50-wide or similar sized reels.
That the bluefin tuna are generally boat-shy (unlike the yellowfin, dorado and yellowtail that sometimes bump their heads on the hull in a feeding frenzy) is causing a few anglers to try kite fishing, wherein a kite or balloon is used to get a bait out to the wary fish. This method is used on long-range trips chasing the big cow yellowfin tuna and can be productive when the fish sink out due to the boat noise. The boat sets a drift upwind from the fish, far enough away so as not to spook the school, and the angler basically flies the bait to the school. Letting a bait swim a long ways (“soaking a bait”) does not work well as the bait will tire, the line weight will drag it and it loses the natural appearance preferred by finicky fish. The kite is attached to the line with a rubber band or break-away clip, and is retrieved as soon as a fish is on.
Top performing boats this week:
July 29 the Pegasus reported 6 yellowfin tuna, 36 dorado and 190 yellowtail for the 19 anglers aboard their 2 day trip.
July 28 19 anglers aboard the Fortune overnight run caught 95 yellowtail, 4 yellowfin tuna and 8 dorado. The Legend returned to the dock with limits of 190 yellowtail and 76 dorado in the hold for the 19 anglers aboard their 2.5 day run.
July 27 The Constitution 2.5 day trip with 19 anglers aboard resulted in 190 yellowtail, 1 bluefin tuna, 3 bonito and 6 dorado caught.
July 26 The First String 3 day trip with 14 anglers on deck reported 3 bluefin tuna, 210 yellowtail, 1 bonito and 57 dorado in the hold.
July 25 The Producer called in with 90 yellowtail and 17 dorado for the 18 anglers aboard their overnight trip.
July 24 The Mustang took 18 anglers out on an overnight run and reported limits of 36 dorado and 90 yellowtail caught.
July 23 The Legend reported 72 dorado, 190 yellowtail and 2 mako shark caught by 19 anglers aboard their 2.5 day run. The makos were released.
Fish Plants: No plants this week