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Calif. Fish and Wildlife lets hot stick guys exceed limit

But the boat catches are capped

A waning bite during a waxing moon didn’t faze angler Dave Henderson, here with a quality bluefin tuna caught using a knife jig while fishing aboard the Intrepid.
A waning bite during a waxing moon didn’t faze angler Dave Henderson, here with a quality bluefin tuna caught using a knife jig while fishing aboard the Intrepid.

Dock Totals 4/10 – 4/16: 1,846 anglers aboard 74 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 954 bluefin tuna (to 60 pounds), 1 blue perch, 13 bocaccio, 12 bonito, 64 calico bass, 16 lingcod, 1 mako shark, 2,991 rockfish, 54 sand bass, 40 sanddab, 160 sculpin, 19 sheephead, 739 whitefish, and 284 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The bluefin bite slowed as the moon phased into full, while a blustery beginning to the week kept the San Diego sportfishing fleet at the dock on Tuesday. Still, the counts reflect decent fishing off the northern Baja coast, albeit the tuna caught are smaller in size than during previous weeks. The schools of bluefin are spread out from just south of the border down to the banks outside of San Quintin, where panga operators are finding willing fish within 20 miles of the coast. There are still no reports of activity at the Tanner or Cortez Banks west/southwest of San Clemente Island, though as conditions flatten out, I expect to see reports from that area where bluefin seem to populate year-round.

Boats fishing San Clemente Island, however, have been reporting a decent pick on larger yellowtail to 35 pounds, although most of those trips are operating out of landings in the Orange County and Los Angeles harbors, while the San Diego full-day and 1.5-day trips have been concentrating on tuna and yellowtail to the south, the latter showing signs of improvement around the Coronado Islands. Rockfish, sheephead, whitefish, and lingcod are filling out catches for the local half-day fleet, though sand bass are biting well. As the water slowly warms and is nearing 65 degrees, we should see calico bass increasing in the counts, and conditions are beginning to favor the appearance of yellowtail and white seabass outside the La Jolla reserve.

For anglers working the sand, mole crabs, blood worms and mussels have been good baits for barred surf perch, spotfin croaker, and corbina, while those fishing Lucky Craft and other shallow-running crankbaits are finding occasional halibut in the cuts and holes near the surf break. Steeper beaches, especially during high tide, are more productive for those fishing lures, especially during smaller swells and when able to cast beyond the surf break. Lure fishing on shallower-sloping beaches when the swell is up can be tough, so often during the springtime swings in wind and waves, finding a jetty to work just behind the surf break is the better option.

Light craft and kayakers fishing in San Diego Bay and Mission Bay are finding good action on halibut and spotted bay bass, with a few shortfin corvina in the mix. For halibut, the holes around bridges in Mission Bay have been best, while the channel edge along the San Diego Bay mouth between the Point Loma Flats and Zuniga Jetty has been holding good fish to 32 inches or so. Further inside San Diego bay, the best bet for halibut has been around the deeper cuts and marinas, and along sandy areas and channel slopes near the Coronado Bridge.

So, back to bluefin and the fleet. Often, a newcomer to San Diego sportfishing will notice a ‘hot stick’ angler catching more than the daily limit allowed per angler while out on a sportfishing vessel. Aren’t they poaching once they have their limit and continue fishing? Well, that’s a gray area when it comes to the rules. Yes, if they catch and keep more than the daily limit per species, they are breaking the California Department of Fish and Wildlife rules. On the other hand, sportfishing vessels operate under ‘boat limits’ in California, and this also applies to long-range trips deep into Mexican waters. Boat limits are the total fish caught divided by anglers (which can include crew) aboard. As not all anglers are as skilled or lucky as others, there will be occasions where a boat returns with full limits, yet some anglers caught few or no fish, while others exceeded their personal limit. In these cases, the captain and or deckhands will usually divvy up the ‘extra’ fish among the less-fortunate anglers. Basically, while on a sportfishing vessel, an angler can catch over their limit, but the boat can take no more than the total considering number of anglers aboard and daily bag limits, nor can any angler disembark with more than their personal daily limit. For trips of 3 days or longer, a total of three daily limits is the maximum. So, it is entirely possible and basically legal to go on a trip aboard a sportfishing vessel that reports limits caught, not catch a single fish, and still come home with fish in the sack.

They’re out there, so go out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: 4/21 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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A waning bite during a waxing moon didn’t faze angler Dave Henderson, here with a quality bluefin tuna caught using a knife jig while fishing aboard the Intrepid.
A waning bite during a waxing moon didn’t faze angler Dave Henderson, here with a quality bluefin tuna caught using a knife jig while fishing aboard the Intrepid.

Dock Totals 4/10 – 4/16: 1,846 anglers aboard 74 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 954 bluefin tuna (to 60 pounds), 1 blue perch, 13 bocaccio, 12 bonito, 64 calico bass, 16 lingcod, 1 mako shark, 2,991 rockfish, 54 sand bass, 40 sanddab, 160 sculpin, 19 sheephead, 739 whitefish, and 284 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The bluefin bite slowed as the moon phased into full, while a blustery beginning to the week kept the San Diego sportfishing fleet at the dock on Tuesday. Still, the counts reflect decent fishing off the northern Baja coast, albeit the tuna caught are smaller in size than during previous weeks. The schools of bluefin are spread out from just south of the border down to the banks outside of San Quintin, where panga operators are finding willing fish within 20 miles of the coast. There are still no reports of activity at the Tanner or Cortez Banks west/southwest of San Clemente Island, though as conditions flatten out, I expect to see reports from that area where bluefin seem to populate year-round.

Boats fishing San Clemente Island, however, have been reporting a decent pick on larger yellowtail to 35 pounds, although most of those trips are operating out of landings in the Orange County and Los Angeles harbors, while the San Diego full-day and 1.5-day trips have been concentrating on tuna and yellowtail to the south, the latter showing signs of improvement around the Coronado Islands. Rockfish, sheephead, whitefish, and lingcod are filling out catches for the local half-day fleet, though sand bass are biting well. As the water slowly warms and is nearing 65 degrees, we should see calico bass increasing in the counts, and conditions are beginning to favor the appearance of yellowtail and white seabass outside the La Jolla reserve.

For anglers working the sand, mole crabs, blood worms and mussels have been good baits for barred surf perch, spotfin croaker, and corbina, while those fishing Lucky Craft and other shallow-running crankbaits are finding occasional halibut in the cuts and holes near the surf break. Steeper beaches, especially during high tide, are more productive for those fishing lures, especially during smaller swells and when able to cast beyond the surf break. Lure fishing on shallower-sloping beaches when the swell is up can be tough, so often during the springtime swings in wind and waves, finding a jetty to work just behind the surf break is the better option.

Light craft and kayakers fishing in San Diego Bay and Mission Bay are finding good action on halibut and spotted bay bass, with a few shortfin corvina in the mix. For halibut, the holes around bridges in Mission Bay have been best, while the channel edge along the San Diego Bay mouth between the Point Loma Flats and Zuniga Jetty has been holding good fish to 32 inches or so. Further inside San Diego bay, the best bet for halibut has been around the deeper cuts and marinas, and along sandy areas and channel slopes near the Coronado Bridge.

So, back to bluefin and the fleet. Often, a newcomer to San Diego sportfishing will notice a ‘hot stick’ angler catching more than the daily limit allowed per angler while out on a sportfishing vessel. Aren’t they poaching once they have their limit and continue fishing? Well, that’s a gray area when it comes to the rules. Yes, if they catch and keep more than the daily limit per species, they are breaking the California Department of Fish and Wildlife rules. On the other hand, sportfishing vessels operate under ‘boat limits’ in California, and this also applies to long-range trips deep into Mexican waters. Boat limits are the total fish caught divided by anglers (which can include crew) aboard. As not all anglers are as skilled or lucky as others, there will be occasions where a boat returns with full limits, yet some anglers caught few or no fish, while others exceeded their personal limit. In these cases, the captain and or deckhands will usually divvy up the ‘extra’ fish among the less-fortunate anglers. Basically, while on a sportfishing vessel, an angler can catch over their limit, but the boat can take no more than the total considering number of anglers aboard and daily bag limits, nor can any angler disembark with more than their personal daily limit. For trips of 3 days or longer, a total of three daily limits is the maximum. So, it is entirely possible and basically legal to go on a trip aboard a sportfishing vessel that reports limits caught, not catch a single fish, and still come home with fish in the sack.

They’re out there, so go out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: 4/21 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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