Opah caught aboard the Grande, summer 2017
Dock Totals June 24 – June 30: 5,007 anglers aboard 165 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 410 bluefin tuna, 17 yellowfin tuna, 2 dorado, 4,167 yellowtail, 41 white seabass (40 released), 2,866 calico bass, 1,662 sand bass, 1,121 rockfish, 38 whitefish, 5 lingcod, 695 bonito, 337 barracuda, 154 sculpin, 45 sanddab, 39 sheephead, 10 halibut, 10 lizardfish, 2 mako shark (released), 1 treefish, 1 cabezon, 1 triggerfish, and 1 opah.
Saltwater: It’s been all about color; golden, blue, white, yellow, yellow again, and a little red. The golden would be the first dorado caught this season within two-day range of Point Loma, as the Pegasus with only 9 anglers aboard reported 82 yellowtail, 14 bluefin tuna, 2 dorado and 1 yellowfin tuna for their June 28th and 29th trip south. The blue is the ongoing bluefin tuna bite that seems to moving in circles from 30 to 100 miles out and south, but staying close enough for the overnight trips to find them when they dedicate the time. There are better odds and more time at the rail on a 1.5 day or longer if wanting some of that sashimi tuna. The count is in the hundreds for the week and not thousands due to chew offs. These fish fight and will often outlast the terminal tackle.
The white is the white seabass bite north along the coast and off Catalina and San Clemente islands. The big biscuits are showing for boats leaving out of the landings from Oceanside north to Ventura. Here off La Jolla there have been a few caught, mostly by kayakers and private boaters, and with lots of bait in the water and good conditions, the only thing missing for a great white seabass bite is the market squid they prefer. When we have squid in the area, San Diego can be as productive for white seabass as anywhere. Juvenile white seabass have been caught in both bays by anglers targeting bass and shortfin corvina. These fish under 28” must be released, and done so gently.
The yellow doubled is the great yellowtail bite off the Coronado Islands and the yellowfin tuna that are starting to show in one-day range. The yellowtail have been biting in schools of rats at five or six pounds up to mid-size models around 18 to 20 pounds, with the majority of them on the smaller side. In U.S. waters, five under 24” fork length and five over for a total of ten fish can be kept. In Mexican waters five California yellowtail can be kept with no size limit.
As the water warms, the yellowfin tuna should fill in, along with the roaming wolf packs of dorado that are usually not far behind. How close these fish get to Point Loma can change from year to year; some seasons require a 30-mile or longer trip. Over the last two weeks, the angler count passed four thousand then five thousand respectively — both for the first time in 2018.
Oh, the red. I was surprised that anyone was dropping for red rockfish, much less for the thousand-plus that are in the counts for the week. The end of June has been good for the basses, with calicos romping in the kelp and sand bass hovering over the flats and coming over the rails of the local boats in solid numbers.
Opahs are rarely caught, beautiful fish, more commonly found near Hawaii and are prized for their meat that can run over $20 a pound at the market to over $100 for a prepared meal. The opah is the first fish discovered to have a warm heart, and can keep most of its body consistently at a temperature above the water temperature around it. The average opah caught is between 150 and 250 pounds, though they can grow to over 6 feet in length and weigh up to 600 pounds.
Fish Plants: July 6, Santee Lakes, catfish (1,000), July 9, Jennings, catfish (1,000)