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Bluefin don't swim alone

Don't look for a Lake Cuyamaca stocking schedule

It took angler Robert Tressler over an hour to get this 147.5-pound bluefin tuna to the boat, and three gaffs to haul it aboard.
It took angler Robert Tressler over an hour to get this 147.5-pound bluefin tuna to the boat, and three gaffs to haul it aboard.

Dock Totals 3/6 – 3/12: 1,003 anglers aboard 48 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 1 bluefin tuna, 20 calico bass, 120 halfmoon, 3 halibut, 11 lingcod, 10 lobster (26 released), 1 perch, 3,012 rockfish, 76 sand bass, 21 sanddab, 363 sculpin, 161 sheephead, 1 triggerfish, 731 whitefish, and 115 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The weather cleared enough for boats to extend their range, and the Old Glory out of H&M Landing decided to check out the waters some 60 to 70 miles west of Ensenada while out on a 1.5-day trip last Friday – Saturday with 23 anglers aboard. The gable paid off with limits of yellowtail and one 150-pound bluefin tuna. Though one may assume that, like all tuna species, bluefin tuna are annual migrators and will be gone from our waters when they spawn through the summer in a small area of the Sea of Japan, the truth is that they are around all year, and at the same time, they spawn annually.

This is due to their feeding grounds while juveniles being here off the coast of North America, from off Oregon south to off the southern stretches of the Baja Peninsula. As Pacific bluefin are endothermic, or warm-blooded, they are not subject to certain temperature ranges that triggers migrations of other pelagic species that the San Diego fleet targets. With freedom from the bonds that keep cold-blooded fish more predictable, bluefin tuna can be hard to find.

That they become sexually mature at a broad age range from 3 to 9 years and can be 120-300 pounds or more in that age range, means some stay in the eastern Pacific, and some return to Japan, travelling over 5,000 miles to spawn every year. Once they return to spawn in the Sea of Japan, Pacific bluefin remain on that side of the ocean, and they can live up to 25 years. As they continue to grow throughout their lives, they can reach upwards of 900 pounds. This is why we don’t see many caught over 400 pounds.

The world-record Pacific bluefin tuna landed unassisted (IGFA requirement for a record) was caught in the western Pacific by angler Donna Pascoe on February 19, 2014. The California record was caught this past summer by San Diego angler Floyd Sparks and weighed 395.4 pounds. Larger fish weighing just over 400 pounds in US waters, but those did not qualify for record submittal.

Though Pacific bluefin are from the same stock, there are many schools that migrate annually based on sexual maturity. Think cattle from one bloodline on a ranch. You can have one stock, but many herds. Studies were few before the turn of the century, but more recent tracking efforts using pop-up beacons that can be monitored by satellite shows that the bluefin tuna schools that remain in the eastern Pacific can be just about anywhere from a couple miles off the coast to over a thousand, and anywhere between Eugene, Oregon and Cabo San Lucas.

That they are widely-ranged and relatively unaffected by water temperature is why we don’t see many caught during the winter months, when fewer boats are running, and weather and distance makes looking for them unsustainable for sportfishing vessels. But, as with the Old Glory, when there is a sighting or a catch within range, they will go take a look. Bluefin tuna are not solitary swimmers and are typically caught in schools that migrated together, so where there is one in the hundred and fifty-pound range, there are more in that area. The one fish caught aboard the Old Glory was plucked out of a large, metered school of fish 250 feet below a hot yellowtail surface bite. It may have been just one fish hooked and landed, but seasoned Old Glory captain Kley Williams’ decision to go offshore paid off with a brute.

As we had our first week of the season with over a thousand anglers and Spring Break is near, along with the great seasonal rockfish numbers, I expect we will see more yellowtail, bonito, and bluefin in the counts in the coming weeks with more boats out looking.

Freshwater: As the trout season is winding down, anglers who want to continue catching the tasty stockers through spring and into summer can focus on the one lake in our county that stocks trout 10 months out of the year; Lake Cuyamaca. Trout fishing is still good at the other county lakes being stocked, but that bite will wane quickly once the last plants are delivered by late March through early April and the lower elevation lake waters warm.

Cuyamaca does not publish their trout stocking schedule as do most county lakes, though, as they stock most of the year and has cooler water at over 4,600 feet in elevation, trout can be caught there in any month. The lake also offers good largemouth bass fishing, along with small a small population of smallmouth bass, plenty of channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, and occasionally, white sturgeon are caught there as well, making Cuyamaca one of the more species-diverse lakes in our area.

Fish on!

Fish Plants: March 20 – Lake Wolhford, trout (1,500), March 21, Lake Jennings, trout (2,000), March 24, Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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It took angler Robert Tressler over an hour to get this 147.5-pound bluefin tuna to the boat, and three gaffs to haul it aboard.
It took angler Robert Tressler over an hour to get this 147.5-pound bluefin tuna to the boat, and three gaffs to haul it aboard.

Dock Totals 3/6 – 3/12: 1,003 anglers aboard 48 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 1 bluefin tuna, 20 calico bass, 120 halfmoon, 3 halibut, 11 lingcod, 10 lobster (26 released), 1 perch, 3,012 rockfish, 76 sand bass, 21 sanddab, 363 sculpin, 161 sheephead, 1 triggerfish, 731 whitefish, and 115 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The weather cleared enough for boats to extend their range, and the Old Glory out of H&M Landing decided to check out the waters some 60 to 70 miles west of Ensenada while out on a 1.5-day trip last Friday – Saturday with 23 anglers aboard. The gable paid off with limits of yellowtail and one 150-pound bluefin tuna. Though one may assume that, like all tuna species, bluefin tuna are annual migrators and will be gone from our waters when they spawn through the summer in a small area of the Sea of Japan, the truth is that they are around all year, and at the same time, they spawn annually.

This is due to their feeding grounds while juveniles being here off the coast of North America, from off Oregon south to off the southern stretches of the Baja Peninsula. As Pacific bluefin are endothermic, or warm-blooded, they are not subject to certain temperature ranges that triggers migrations of other pelagic species that the San Diego fleet targets. With freedom from the bonds that keep cold-blooded fish more predictable, bluefin tuna can be hard to find.

That they become sexually mature at a broad age range from 3 to 9 years and can be 120-300 pounds or more in that age range, means some stay in the eastern Pacific, and some return to Japan, travelling over 5,000 miles to spawn every year. Once they return to spawn in the Sea of Japan, Pacific bluefin remain on that side of the ocean, and they can live up to 25 years. As they continue to grow throughout their lives, they can reach upwards of 900 pounds. This is why we don’t see many caught over 400 pounds.

The world-record Pacific bluefin tuna landed unassisted (IGFA requirement for a record) was caught in the western Pacific by angler Donna Pascoe on February 19, 2014. The California record was caught this past summer by San Diego angler Floyd Sparks and weighed 395.4 pounds. Larger fish weighing just over 400 pounds in US waters, but those did not qualify for record submittal.

Though Pacific bluefin are from the same stock, there are many schools that migrate annually based on sexual maturity. Think cattle from one bloodline on a ranch. You can have one stock, but many herds. Studies were few before the turn of the century, but more recent tracking efforts using pop-up beacons that can be monitored by satellite shows that the bluefin tuna schools that remain in the eastern Pacific can be just about anywhere from a couple miles off the coast to over a thousand, and anywhere between Eugene, Oregon and Cabo San Lucas.

That they are widely-ranged and relatively unaffected by water temperature is why we don’t see many caught during the winter months, when fewer boats are running, and weather and distance makes looking for them unsustainable for sportfishing vessels. But, as with the Old Glory, when there is a sighting or a catch within range, they will go take a look. Bluefin tuna are not solitary swimmers and are typically caught in schools that migrated together, so where there is one in the hundred and fifty-pound range, there are more in that area. The one fish caught aboard the Old Glory was plucked out of a large, metered school of fish 250 feet below a hot yellowtail surface bite. It may have been just one fish hooked and landed, but seasoned Old Glory captain Kley Williams’ decision to go offshore paid off with a brute.

As we had our first week of the season with over a thousand anglers and Spring Break is near, along with the great seasonal rockfish numbers, I expect we will see more yellowtail, bonito, and bluefin in the counts in the coming weeks with more boats out looking.

Freshwater: As the trout season is winding down, anglers who want to continue catching the tasty stockers through spring and into summer can focus on the one lake in our county that stocks trout 10 months out of the year; Lake Cuyamaca. Trout fishing is still good at the other county lakes being stocked, but that bite will wane quickly once the last plants are delivered by late March through early April and the lower elevation lake waters warm.

Cuyamaca does not publish their trout stocking schedule as do most county lakes, though, as they stock most of the year and has cooler water at over 4,600 feet in elevation, trout can be caught there in any month. The lake also offers good largemouth bass fishing, along with small a small population of smallmouth bass, plenty of channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, and occasionally, white sturgeon are caught there as well, making Cuyamaca one of the more species-diverse lakes in our area.

Fish on!

Fish Plants: March 20 – Lake Wolhford, trout (1,500), March 21, Lake Jennings, trout (2,000), March 24, Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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