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Everyone has a spot at the rail

San Diego, home of the world’s largest live bait sportfishing fleet.

Angler Sophia Huynh with her personal best 67.8-pound yellowtail caught aboard the Shogun while fishing at Guadalupe Island.
Angler Sophia Huynh with her personal best 67.8-pound yellowtail caught aboard the Shogun while fishing at Guadalupe Island.

Dock Totals 9/12 – 9/18: 3,255 anglers aboard 173 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught (977) 2,013 bluefin tuna (up to 260 pounds), 4 bocaccio, 74 bonito, 146 calico bass (5 released), 429 dorado, 1 halibut, 6 lingcod, 3,993 rockfish, 1 rock sole, 51 sand bass, 266 sculpin, 137 sheephead, 62 skipjack tuna, 1,000 whitefish, 644 yellowfin tuna, and 266 yellowtail.

Saltwater: It is that time of year when the number of anglers heading out on San Diego area sportfishing boats starts to dwindle from peak season loads. Through the summer during tourist season and while most young anglers are out of school, there are weekly totals up to and over six-thousand passengers on two hundred plus trips out of San Diego County landings located in San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, and Oceanside Harbor. That’s just counting trips from half-day to three-day runs, which, when compared to any other city on the coast of North America, makes San Diego the home of the world’s largest live bait sportfishing fleet.

During the fall, long range trips of five to sixteen days begin their high season fishing further south along the southern Baja peninsula and south to the fishing areas around the Revillagigedo Islands 300 miles south of Cabo San Lucas and 400 miles from the coast of the Mexican mainland. Considering travel time at an average 10 knots, fishing mid-peninsula hot spots and Guadalupe Island require a minimum five-day outing to allow three days and nights fishing time for the anglers aboard. Eight-day runs might fish as far south as the hot areas around Bahia Magdalena, while longer trips can get their passengers through the semi-tropics to the tropical waters south of the peninsula. For those longer trips of a half month, some operations offer the option to load your gear on the boat and then fly down a couple days later and meet at Cabo San Lucas.

The trophy fish targeted during long range fishing include yellowtail, wahoo, large grouper, and especially ‘cow’ yellowfin tuna to over 400 pounds. The benchmark to be considered a cow yellowfin tuna is 300 pounds. Long range fishing is not cheap; the price range runs from around $3,500 for 8 days to over $5,200 for sixteen days. The expense of long range sportfishing may seem prohibitive to the average lure and bait chucker, but for anglers with the duckets to go, these trips are highlights of what is usually a lifetime of fishing experience. Spending that much time on the ocean, not to mention the amount of money on proper gear needed, is not in the realm of the average angler. That said, there are seasons, such as this summer, where the average angler can experience the thrill of pulling on larger fish normally sought by long range operations.

Season by season since the late '90s El Niños, migratory patterns have fluctuated, sending the once prevalent albacore tuna that used to be caught as near as a couple miles from Point Loma further offshore out of range of our local fleets and north to the operations near the Washington/Oregon border. Bluefin tuna, which when near local waters around San Clemente Island were averaging 20 to 30 pounds during the 1970s and 1980s, are now often weighing in at up to and over 300 pounds, which is reminiscent of the fish caught in the early years of SoCal sportfishing operations out of Catalina Island in the late 1800s. Larger than average yellowtail occasionally bring their brutish fight to within casting distance of shore, as was the case for Jarred Davidson in 2015 when he landed a 45 pounder from the Mission Beach Jetty. These reports bring more anglers to landings, and though once a male-dominated pastime, it is now enjoyed by folks from all walks of life.

This past week, during an 8-day charter aboard the Shogun out of Fisherman’s Landing, co-charter master and seasoned angler Sophia Huynh landed her personal best yellowtail at 67.8 pounds. Sophia is no novice; her fishing prowess has caught the eye of top gear manufacturers and holds the status of Pro-Staff for Blackwater International and Seeker Fishing Rods. While fishing near Guadalupe Island using a Seeker 2x4 OSP rail rod fitted with an Okuma Makaira 20 wound with 100lb Izorline, she skillfully fought the lifetime catch to the gaff. The fish took a live scad pinned to a 5/0 hook on a dropper loop with 16 ounces of weight to get it down in the current. When I asked her about the fight, she said, “It was a gentle bite but loaded up the rod and then just winding to get it off the bottom. It took several runs peeling line, but it was just heavy and with solid head shakes.” Even with her lifetime of fishing experience, it was, in her words, “definitely a dream come true.”

That Sophia can hang fish with the best of the best should not daunt those who wish to take up sportfishing. Whether from the shore, nearshore, or long range, the crews of the San Diego fleet are adept in showing folks the ropes, and all operations have rental gear available for every species targeted. And though long-range fishing can rival a moderately expensive vacation in price, fishing outings can be as little as $50 for a twilight trip, and full day to 1.5-day trips that can result in a large tuna or yellowtail run from $200 to $300 dollars. This time of year, as the angler counts thin is a good time to get some experience with guidance aboard one of San Diego’s fine sportfishing vessels. Get out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: None scheduled

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Angler Sophia Huynh with her personal best 67.8-pound yellowtail caught aboard the Shogun while fishing at Guadalupe Island.
Angler Sophia Huynh with her personal best 67.8-pound yellowtail caught aboard the Shogun while fishing at Guadalupe Island.

Dock Totals 9/12 – 9/18: 3,255 anglers aboard 173 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught (977) 2,013 bluefin tuna (up to 260 pounds), 4 bocaccio, 74 bonito, 146 calico bass (5 released), 429 dorado, 1 halibut, 6 lingcod, 3,993 rockfish, 1 rock sole, 51 sand bass, 266 sculpin, 137 sheephead, 62 skipjack tuna, 1,000 whitefish, 644 yellowfin tuna, and 266 yellowtail.

Saltwater: It is that time of year when the number of anglers heading out on San Diego area sportfishing boats starts to dwindle from peak season loads. Through the summer during tourist season and while most young anglers are out of school, there are weekly totals up to and over six-thousand passengers on two hundred plus trips out of San Diego County landings located in San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, and Oceanside Harbor. That’s just counting trips from half-day to three-day runs, which, when compared to any other city on the coast of North America, makes San Diego the home of the world’s largest live bait sportfishing fleet.

During the fall, long range trips of five to sixteen days begin their high season fishing further south along the southern Baja peninsula and south to the fishing areas around the Revillagigedo Islands 300 miles south of Cabo San Lucas and 400 miles from the coast of the Mexican mainland. Considering travel time at an average 10 knots, fishing mid-peninsula hot spots and Guadalupe Island require a minimum five-day outing to allow three days and nights fishing time for the anglers aboard. Eight-day runs might fish as far south as the hot areas around Bahia Magdalena, while longer trips can get their passengers through the semi-tropics to the tropical waters south of the peninsula. For those longer trips of a half month, some operations offer the option to load your gear on the boat and then fly down a couple days later and meet at Cabo San Lucas.

The trophy fish targeted during long range fishing include yellowtail, wahoo, large grouper, and especially ‘cow’ yellowfin tuna to over 400 pounds. The benchmark to be considered a cow yellowfin tuna is 300 pounds. Long range fishing is not cheap; the price range runs from around $3,500 for 8 days to over $5,200 for sixteen days. The expense of long range sportfishing may seem prohibitive to the average lure and bait chucker, but for anglers with the duckets to go, these trips are highlights of what is usually a lifetime of fishing experience. Spending that much time on the ocean, not to mention the amount of money on proper gear needed, is not in the realm of the average angler. That said, there are seasons, such as this summer, where the average angler can experience the thrill of pulling on larger fish normally sought by long range operations.

Season by season since the late '90s El Niños, migratory patterns have fluctuated, sending the once prevalent albacore tuna that used to be caught as near as a couple miles from Point Loma further offshore out of range of our local fleets and north to the operations near the Washington/Oregon border. Bluefin tuna, which when near local waters around San Clemente Island were averaging 20 to 30 pounds during the 1970s and 1980s, are now often weighing in at up to and over 300 pounds, which is reminiscent of the fish caught in the early years of SoCal sportfishing operations out of Catalina Island in the late 1800s. Larger than average yellowtail occasionally bring their brutish fight to within casting distance of shore, as was the case for Jarred Davidson in 2015 when he landed a 45 pounder from the Mission Beach Jetty. These reports bring more anglers to landings, and though once a male-dominated pastime, it is now enjoyed by folks from all walks of life.

This past week, during an 8-day charter aboard the Shogun out of Fisherman’s Landing, co-charter master and seasoned angler Sophia Huynh landed her personal best yellowtail at 67.8 pounds. Sophia is no novice; her fishing prowess has caught the eye of top gear manufacturers and holds the status of Pro-Staff for Blackwater International and Seeker Fishing Rods. While fishing near Guadalupe Island using a Seeker 2x4 OSP rail rod fitted with an Okuma Makaira 20 wound with 100lb Izorline, she skillfully fought the lifetime catch to the gaff. The fish took a live scad pinned to a 5/0 hook on a dropper loop with 16 ounces of weight to get it down in the current. When I asked her about the fight, she said, “It was a gentle bite but loaded up the rod and then just winding to get it off the bottom. It took several runs peeling line, but it was just heavy and with solid head shakes.” Even with her lifetime of fishing experience, it was, in her words, “definitely a dream come true.”

That Sophia can hang fish with the best of the best should not daunt those who wish to take up sportfishing. Whether from the shore, nearshore, or long range, the crews of the San Diego fleet are adept in showing folks the ropes, and all operations have rental gear available for every species targeted. And though long-range fishing can rival a moderately expensive vacation in price, fishing outings can be as little as $50 for a twilight trip, and full day to 1.5-day trips that can result in a large tuna or yellowtail run from $200 to $300 dollars. This time of year, as the angler counts thin is a good time to get some experience with guidance aboard one of San Diego’s fine sportfishing vessels. Get out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: None scheduled

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