Dock Totals February 18 to February 24:
791 anglers aboard 38 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 521 yellowtail, 124 calico bass, 322 sand bass, 880 rockfish, 22 whitefish, 6 lingcod, 18 bonito, 5 halibut, 475 sculpin, 156 sanddab, 1 finescale triggerfish, 9 sheephead, 4 rubberlip seaperch, 1 gray smoothhound shark, 22 California lizardfish, and 40 spiny lobster.
Yellowtail showed quite well at the Coronado Islands for the boats that made it there during a week that featured off and on blustery conditions and oft-unfriendly seas. Still, by week's end, over 500 of the jacks from 10 to 25 pounds had been boated by a relatively light angler load of under 800 for the seven days. Most of the yellowtail were caught on yoyo and surface irons, while fly-lined and weighted live bait had poor results. That some of the fish are up in the water column is a good sign, even if some boats were reporting water temps less than 60 degrees in the area.
The rockfish bite south of the border has been great and that should translate to our local bottom-fishing spots as the season reopens this week on March 1st after a two month closure in US waters from Point Conception south to the border. With that, the angler loads and rockfish counts should increase quite a bit over the next couple weeks, weather permitting.
Though no bluefin tuna made the count this past week, a few spots of fish were metered and spotted off the Baja coast within 1.5 day range by some of the boats working back up the line on multi-day trips. There are still spots of them outside in U.S. waters near San Clemente Island, and again, weather permitting, boats are scheduling 1.5 day trips to both areas and we should see them in the counts again soon. That said, bluefin have been known to turn tight-lipped as the water cools, and even if spotted, this time of year can be tough to get them to bite.
The long-range boats leaving from San Diego or fishing out of ports south for the winter season are reporting great yellowfin tuna fishing from the lower banks south of Cabo San Lucas across to the Roca Corbeteña area just outside of Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta. Even Loreto has been getting some big "cow" yellowfin action well into the Sea of Cortes where tuna over 200 pounds are rare. After a year of huge bluefin tuna in our area, also a rarity, and three years of phenomenal pelagic fishing within ¾ day and overnight range, one has to wonder what "rarities" the warming trends of late-spring through the fall will bring to the local fishery this year. It wasn't all that long ago when we expected albacore by June as the first sign of the tuna season, but still, for over a decade, the annual runs of the long-finned white-meat tuna that used to be a San Diego sportfishing staple have not shown much at all south of the Washington/Oregon border. Is this trend of more tropical species moving north into our area the new normal?
Top boats of the week:
February 18; 25 anglers aboard the Mustang returned to the dock with limits of 125 yellowtail. The Jig Strike reported 78 spiny lobster caught with 11 kept for the 10 hoop-netters aboard their ½ lobster run.
February 19: The Relentless called in with 285 rockfish and 95 yellowtail for the 19 anglers aboard their 2.5 day trip.
February 21: The Dolphin ½ day halibut derby run resulted in 35 halibut caught with just 4 keepers reported. That should raise the jackpot to over $2,500 with one day (Feb 28) left to fish. 11 sculpin and 3 sand bass were also caught on the trip.
February 22: 10 anglers aboard the San Diego full day run caught 72 rockfish and 16 yellowtail.
February 24: 13 anglers aboard the Vendetta ¾ day run caught limits of 65 yellowtail and 50 rockfish, along with 7 sheephead.
February 7: Poway, trout (1500).