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Yellowtail Numbers Soar in the Count – Adaptability is Key

Yellowtail kicked bluefin to the curb

Yellowtail and dorado replace bluefin tuna as the main target for the fleet.
Yellowtail and dorado replace bluefin tuna as the main target for the fleet.

Dock Totals 7/18 – 7/24: 5,990 anglers aboard 246 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 236 barracuda, 2 black seabass (released), 898 bluefin tuna (up to 210 pounds), 31 bocaccio, 219 bonito, 4,326 calico bass (2,835 released), 293 dorado, 4 halibut, 1 leopard shark, 4 lingcod, 1,370 rockfish, 299 sand bass, 10 sculpin, 166 sheephead, 2 thresher shark, 122 whitefish, 9 white seabass, 131 yellowfin tuna, and 8,752 yellowtail.

Saltwater: For several weeks, there were bluefin tuna within 10 to 30 miles of Point Loma and most of the fleet that could went after them with great results as a whole, even if there were some ‘skunk’ trips with no fish landed, hot-turned-finicky biters. When biting well, multitudes of the brutish fish wore out knots, anglers, and gear and escaped before the gaff found them. Boats were reporting lots of hook ups lost, but numbers got better as captains advised and passengers brought out or rented the heavier gear needed to land tuna up to and over 200 pounds. In fishing, adaptation is everything, from time of day (or night) fish are feeding, lure or bait presentation, location, gear used, and water conditions. This past week was a good example of the fleet’s adept adaptation skill.

During the week of July 11 through July 17, there were 250 yellowtail and 3,583 bluefin tuna reported caught by 5,722 anglers aboard 230 trips out of San Diego County sportfishing landings. This past week, if fish were keeping score, yellowtail kicked bluefin (and all other species for that matter) to the curb with 8,752 yellowtail hitting the deck compared to just 898 bluefin tuna. More than half of the bluefin, 478, were caught on one day, Sunday, July 18. On Monday, the focus of the fleet began to shift. Bluefin turned finicky as we entered the full moon phase, and though there are some schools still around, they are following their normal migratory pattern and began moving north-northwest.

As warmer water pushed north of the border, vast schools of small yellowtail in the 8-to-20-pound range moved into the area. Most of these fish are being caught along the Baja coast, Coronado Islands, and nearshore banks in US waters. A few yellowfin tuna and small ‘wolfpacks’ of dorado (AKA mahimahi) are also in the mix, the latter making their debut in the counts this year in good numbers. As a few longer-range 1.5 to 3-day boats kept chasing tuna, the shorter overnight and full day captains made the call and set their sights on the closer mix of yellowtail, dorado, and yellowfin tuna by Wednesday. Though this grade of yellowtail do not require the heavier gear, big bluefin are still around and fish are often mixed in grade and species. Captains, especially those fishing further outside near deeper banks, are advising anglers should bring a range of setups from 20-30-pound live bait to 60–80-pound sinker rig/heavy jig.

Half-day boats also rapidly shifted their focus early in the week. The sand bass bite off Imperial Beach slowed substantially over the weekend; the count dropping from 1,990 the previous week to just 299 last week. Most of the short run boats are back to fishing the kelp beds and finding good action on calico bass. Along with the good numbers on calicos, they are also reporting a few barracuda and an occasional yellowtail, white seabass, or halibut in the nearshore mix. Though the target species changed seemingly overnight for most of the fleet, the fishing remains excellent, and the passenger count reflects that as nearly six thousand anglers boarded a sportfishing vessel this week. Though a few walk-on spots are available on the shorter runs, reservations are always advisable for trips from full-day to multi-day runs when the fishing is this good.

Fish Plants: 8/2, Lake Jennings, catfish (1,000)

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Yellowtail and dorado replace bluefin tuna as the main target for the fleet.
Yellowtail and dorado replace bluefin tuna as the main target for the fleet.

Dock Totals 7/18 – 7/24: 5,990 anglers aboard 246 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 236 barracuda, 2 black seabass (released), 898 bluefin tuna (up to 210 pounds), 31 bocaccio, 219 bonito, 4,326 calico bass (2,835 released), 293 dorado, 4 halibut, 1 leopard shark, 4 lingcod, 1,370 rockfish, 299 sand bass, 10 sculpin, 166 sheephead, 2 thresher shark, 122 whitefish, 9 white seabass, 131 yellowfin tuna, and 8,752 yellowtail.

Saltwater: For several weeks, there were bluefin tuna within 10 to 30 miles of Point Loma and most of the fleet that could went after them with great results as a whole, even if there were some ‘skunk’ trips with no fish landed, hot-turned-finicky biters. When biting well, multitudes of the brutish fish wore out knots, anglers, and gear and escaped before the gaff found them. Boats were reporting lots of hook ups lost, but numbers got better as captains advised and passengers brought out or rented the heavier gear needed to land tuna up to and over 200 pounds. In fishing, adaptation is everything, from time of day (or night) fish are feeding, lure or bait presentation, location, gear used, and water conditions. This past week was a good example of the fleet’s adept adaptation skill.

During the week of July 11 through July 17, there were 250 yellowtail and 3,583 bluefin tuna reported caught by 5,722 anglers aboard 230 trips out of San Diego County sportfishing landings. This past week, if fish were keeping score, yellowtail kicked bluefin (and all other species for that matter) to the curb with 8,752 yellowtail hitting the deck compared to just 898 bluefin tuna. More than half of the bluefin, 478, were caught on one day, Sunday, July 18. On Monday, the focus of the fleet began to shift. Bluefin turned finicky as we entered the full moon phase, and though there are some schools still around, they are following their normal migratory pattern and began moving north-northwest.

As warmer water pushed north of the border, vast schools of small yellowtail in the 8-to-20-pound range moved into the area. Most of these fish are being caught along the Baja coast, Coronado Islands, and nearshore banks in US waters. A few yellowfin tuna and small ‘wolfpacks’ of dorado (AKA mahimahi) are also in the mix, the latter making their debut in the counts this year in good numbers. As a few longer-range 1.5 to 3-day boats kept chasing tuna, the shorter overnight and full day captains made the call and set their sights on the closer mix of yellowtail, dorado, and yellowfin tuna by Wednesday. Though this grade of yellowtail do not require the heavier gear, big bluefin are still around and fish are often mixed in grade and species. Captains, especially those fishing further outside near deeper banks, are advising anglers should bring a range of setups from 20-30-pound live bait to 60–80-pound sinker rig/heavy jig.

Half-day boats also rapidly shifted their focus early in the week. The sand bass bite off Imperial Beach slowed substantially over the weekend; the count dropping from 1,990 the previous week to just 299 last week. Most of the short run boats are back to fishing the kelp beds and finding good action on calico bass. Along with the good numbers on calicos, they are also reporting a few barracuda and an occasional yellowtail, white seabass, or halibut in the nearshore mix. Though the target species changed seemingly overnight for most of the fleet, the fishing remains excellent, and the passenger count reflects that as nearly six thousand anglers boarded a sportfishing vessel this week. Though a few walk-on spots are available on the shorter runs, reservations are always advisable for trips from full-day to multi-day runs when the fishing is this good.

Fish Plants: 8/2, Lake Jennings, catfish (1,000)

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