Dock Totals June 10 – June 16: 3,837 anglers aboard 134 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 170 bluefin tuna, 2,214 yellowtail, 9 white seabass (8 released), 3,031 calico bass, 315 sand bass, 931 rockfish, 63 whitefish, 4 lingcod, 324 bonito, 250 sculpin, 16 sanddab, 6 sheephead, 12 halibut, 389 barracuda, 3 halfmoon, 101 lizardfish, 1 bocaccio, 1 black seabass (released), 1 pinback shark, 1 rock sole, and 1 yellowfin croaker.
Saltwater: The warming trend here early in hurricane season continues, and the counts are reflecting that summer season is upon us. Typically, for the inshore fishery, the change is from the bottom to the top of the water column. Terminal tackle switches a bit, too, as the main set-ups change from dropper loops and heavy jigs to surface irons and the fly-line. It’s now the time of year when boarding a sportboat with a dozen live-bait hooks and a mid-weight inshore rod might be all one needs to put plenty of meat on the table. Okay, maybe add a two ounce torpedo, and a Tady 45 to wing at boiling yellowtail, and a jigstick to do it with.
That’s inshore; if going out overnight or longer where running into bluefin tuna is a possibility, do what the crews have been advising all along with these fish; bring a 25-40 lb. setup and a 60-100+ lb. set up, and be ready to fish either one. These tuna trips can come with a lot of bittersweet and grief; 40 fish might get hooked; four might be landed. When you run into school-sized tuna at 25-30 pounds, and the next thing 200 pounders are mauling, there will typically be a lot of cursing and yelling going on. Time to switch up.
Usually, there will be an order from the wheelhouse if it’s a metered spot of fish: they have an idea of the size of fish in the school. Same thing on breezers, or fish slashing the surface while feeding; if you see dolphin-sized splashes, get the big stuff out. The crew will know. Listen to them. These bigger bluefin tuna can destroy even the right gear, and can bring the mighty to their knees.
When around, tuna can pop up anywhere; there was a report of a school of bluefin tuna just off the kelp in La Jolla by El Gato Sportfishing on June 13. This rare thing seems improbable, but it happens. We were catching yellowfin tuna a mile off Point Loma a couple years ago, and a spot of tuna was sighted by divers on the Yukon during the same period. The fish are close; the Grande recorded a 200.2 pound bluefin on a full-day trip this past week, so certainly close enough for a wayward school to wind up inshore.
Back to the short runs to the local spots: the kelp is now the target as the high spots receive a break. In one week, the counts switched from over three thousand rockfish to over three thousand calico bass. That’s a lot of pressure on the kelp in a week, but it is not uncommon. That the minimum size was raised from 12” to 14” a few years ago and those numbers are being caught shows that conservation is having at least some positive effect. The numbers of released fish by the boats that report it (the count of released bass is usually a guestimate, as it is hard for a crew to keep up with) indicate a one in three ratio of keeper to short. That, too, is an indication of a healthy fishery.
As far as the storms down south go, we’re on "C" as of this writing; Carlota is bulking up off Acapulco, yet is expected to make a right turn and cross the mainland as a tropical storm and pretty much ignore Baja and the Sea of Cortez. Bud did not got pushed west by cool water; he bore down on Baja, downgraded to a tropical storm and rained and puffed bit. Most folks prepared well, and his early season bid at causing a ruckus was met with a barrage of Bud Light jokes.
Fish Plants: No plants this week.