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Big Bluefin Biting Again

Time to Dust Off the Trout Gear

Daughter-father anglers Riley and Josh with their 310-pound bluefin tuna caught at Tanner Bank.
Daughter-father anglers Riley and Josh with their 310-pound bluefin tuna caught at Tanner Bank.

Dock Totals 10/31 – 11/6: 1,776 anglers aboard 100 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 548 bluefin tuna (up to 310 pounds), 83 bonito, 654 calico bass (408 released), 29 dorado, 5 lingcod, 148 lobster (106 released), 11 rock crab, 1,438 rockfish, 35 sand bass, 107 sculpin, 154 sheephead, 226 skipjack tuna, 3 swordfish, 406 whitefish, 330 yellowfin tuna, and 2,332 yellowtail.

Saltwater: After a lull in the bite following blustery conditions, the bluefin tuna are back at it again on the outer banks west of San Clemente Island. Most of the fish caught this past week were between 30 and 80 pounds, but there have been several boated that went over 200 pounds. One ‘cow’ 310-pounder hit the deck of the Polaris Supreme that will surely register high in the memories of the father-daughter team that fought it to gaff. It took her three laps around the boat, but young Riley outlasted the massive tuna as well as any seasoned angler could. These fish are biting fly-lined sardines and vertical jigs, with the larger models showing up from sunset into the night.

It is a long 120-mile trip out to the Tanner and Cortez banks where the big bluefin seem to hang out every fall and into winter, so if planning on getting in on the action, 1.5 to 3-day trips are the best bet to get some time at the rail for a chance at a trophy tuna. As the fish tend to school together in relative size, a medium action 30-to-50-pound rig is recommended for the middleweights, while a 60-to-100 pound set up is best for the larger units.

Even with the right gear, landing a bluefin tuna can be a challenge. Their migratory pattern begins in the spawning grounds in the western Pacific near the Nansei Islands and the southwestern part of the Sea of Japan. Hatching from eggs, the young tunas feed there until they reach one year of age or so, then they travel across the Pacific several thousand miles at about 100 miles per day and spend the next few years feeding off the coast of California and Baja until they reach sexual maturity at about 5 years. Fish that reach maturity return across the Pacific to spawn. They are one of the most efficient swimmers, can dive to 3,000 feet, and are endothermic, which means they retain the heat they produce as they swim and can handle cooler water than their more tropical cousins; yellowfin and skipjack. This ‘warm-blooded’ feature allows them to fight longer than most cold-blooded fish that can tire relatively easily during a prolonged battle.

The bluefin tuna we catch off our coast are juveniles to young adults and can weigh as much as 400 pounds (a potential California state record 395-pound bluefin was weighed at the San Diego Marlin Club scale this September). As they continue to grow and can live up to 30 years, Pacific bluefin tuna can reach a maximum size of nearly ten feet long and weigh a half ton. The world record Pacific bluefin tuna caught on rod and reel is 907 pounds and was caught off of New Zealand. Our ‘supercows’ aren’t even halfway there but fighting and landing any bluefin over 200 pounds is a massive feat for anyone.

Closer to home, yellowfin, skipjack, and yellowtail continue to bite well off the coast from the Corner at the border outside of Mexican waters 12-mile zone and down the coast of Baja. A few dorado are still making the counts, but as the water cools, they are the first pelagic species to head back south for warmer tropical climes. Much of the action is 30 to 50 miles off the Baja coast from outside the Coronado Islands south to the high spots west of Ensenada. As the bluefin bite has been off and on, some 2- and 3-day trips are travelling south targeting yellowfin tuna, dorado, and yellowtail the first day, then make the overnight 12 hour run northwest to Tanner Bank to finish out their trip for the large bluefin. For the local half-day fleet, calico bass and rockfish are the main targets off Point Loma, the 9-Mile Bank, and La Jolla, with occasional yellowtail, halibut, or lingcod making the counts.

Freshwater: It’s time to dust off the trout gear as the local lakes are beginning their winter stocking programs. Santee Lakes just had their first plant on November 6th and will continue stocking trout every other week through March. Lake Jennings first plant of 2,000 pounds will be November 15th, and they will continue stocking every other week through April. Lake Dixon will have their first plant on November 16th, though they will be closed for fishing from the 16th until the season opener on Saturday, November 20th. Lakes Wohlford, Poway, Morena, and Chollas will begin their trout seasons in December.

This is the time of year when ‘mixed bag’ fishing is at it’s best. As trout are being planted, big largemouth bass and catfish become active at the scent of a favorite prey. Redear sunfish hang in the shallows soaking up the relative warmth, and freshly stocked trout cruise the edges of their new environs. A fly-lined nightcrawler will often catch any of the species found in area lakes during the fall as the warm-water species stock up for winter. Lake Jennings and San Vicente, especially, are great lakes for bird-watching during the cooler months, as many raptors from higher elevations - including bald and golden eagles – take advantage of the county’s warmer climes and freshly-stocked trout.

Fish Plants: 11/15 – Lake Jennings, trout (2,000), 11/16 – Dixon Lake, trout (2,000)

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From outside Cedros Island, Alijos Rocks, past the end of Baja
Daughter-father anglers Riley and Josh with their 310-pound bluefin tuna caught at Tanner Bank.
Daughter-father anglers Riley and Josh with their 310-pound bluefin tuna caught at Tanner Bank.

Dock Totals 10/31 – 11/6: 1,776 anglers aboard 100 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 548 bluefin tuna (up to 310 pounds), 83 bonito, 654 calico bass (408 released), 29 dorado, 5 lingcod, 148 lobster (106 released), 11 rock crab, 1,438 rockfish, 35 sand bass, 107 sculpin, 154 sheephead, 226 skipjack tuna, 3 swordfish, 406 whitefish, 330 yellowfin tuna, and 2,332 yellowtail.

Saltwater: After a lull in the bite following blustery conditions, the bluefin tuna are back at it again on the outer banks west of San Clemente Island. Most of the fish caught this past week were between 30 and 80 pounds, but there have been several boated that went over 200 pounds. One ‘cow’ 310-pounder hit the deck of the Polaris Supreme that will surely register high in the memories of the father-daughter team that fought it to gaff. It took her three laps around the boat, but young Riley outlasted the massive tuna as well as any seasoned angler could. These fish are biting fly-lined sardines and vertical jigs, with the larger models showing up from sunset into the night.

It is a long 120-mile trip out to the Tanner and Cortez banks where the big bluefin seem to hang out every fall and into winter, so if planning on getting in on the action, 1.5 to 3-day trips are the best bet to get some time at the rail for a chance at a trophy tuna. As the fish tend to school together in relative size, a medium action 30-to-50-pound rig is recommended for the middleweights, while a 60-to-100 pound set up is best for the larger units.

Even with the right gear, landing a bluefin tuna can be a challenge. Their migratory pattern begins in the spawning grounds in the western Pacific near the Nansei Islands and the southwestern part of the Sea of Japan. Hatching from eggs, the young tunas feed there until they reach one year of age or so, then they travel across the Pacific several thousand miles at about 100 miles per day and spend the next few years feeding off the coast of California and Baja until they reach sexual maturity at about 5 years. Fish that reach maturity return across the Pacific to spawn. They are one of the most efficient swimmers, can dive to 3,000 feet, and are endothermic, which means they retain the heat they produce as they swim and can handle cooler water than their more tropical cousins; yellowfin and skipjack. This ‘warm-blooded’ feature allows them to fight longer than most cold-blooded fish that can tire relatively easily during a prolonged battle.

The bluefin tuna we catch off our coast are juveniles to young adults and can weigh as much as 400 pounds (a potential California state record 395-pound bluefin was weighed at the San Diego Marlin Club scale this September). As they continue to grow and can live up to 30 years, Pacific bluefin tuna can reach a maximum size of nearly ten feet long and weigh a half ton. The world record Pacific bluefin tuna caught on rod and reel is 907 pounds and was caught off of New Zealand. Our ‘supercows’ aren’t even halfway there but fighting and landing any bluefin over 200 pounds is a massive feat for anyone.

Closer to home, yellowfin, skipjack, and yellowtail continue to bite well off the coast from the Corner at the border outside of Mexican waters 12-mile zone and down the coast of Baja. A few dorado are still making the counts, but as the water cools, they are the first pelagic species to head back south for warmer tropical climes. Much of the action is 30 to 50 miles off the Baja coast from outside the Coronado Islands south to the high spots west of Ensenada. As the bluefin bite has been off and on, some 2- and 3-day trips are travelling south targeting yellowfin tuna, dorado, and yellowtail the first day, then make the overnight 12 hour run northwest to Tanner Bank to finish out their trip for the large bluefin. For the local half-day fleet, calico bass and rockfish are the main targets off Point Loma, the 9-Mile Bank, and La Jolla, with occasional yellowtail, halibut, or lingcod making the counts.

Freshwater: It’s time to dust off the trout gear as the local lakes are beginning their winter stocking programs. Santee Lakes just had their first plant on November 6th and will continue stocking trout every other week through March. Lake Jennings first plant of 2,000 pounds will be November 15th, and they will continue stocking every other week through April. Lake Dixon will have their first plant on November 16th, though they will be closed for fishing from the 16th until the season opener on Saturday, November 20th. Lakes Wohlford, Poway, Morena, and Chollas will begin their trout seasons in December.

This is the time of year when ‘mixed bag’ fishing is at it’s best. As trout are being planted, big largemouth bass and catfish become active at the scent of a favorite prey. Redear sunfish hang in the shallows soaking up the relative warmth, and freshly stocked trout cruise the edges of their new environs. A fly-lined nightcrawler will often catch any of the species found in area lakes during the fall as the warm-water species stock up for winter. Lake Jennings and San Vicente, especially, are great lakes for bird-watching during the cooler months, as many raptors from higher elevations - including bald and golden eagles – take advantage of the county’s warmer climes and freshly-stocked trout.

Fish Plants: 11/15 – Lake Jennings, trout (2,000), 11/16 – Dixon Lake, trout (2,000)

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