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San Diego – world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet

Rockfish best way to learn

One of many quality bluefin tuna comes over the rail for anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 3-day trip.
One of many quality bluefin tuna comes over the rail for anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 3-day trip.

Dock Totals 5/15 – 5/21: 2,578 anglers aboard 117 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 1,076 bluefin tuna (to 232 pounds), 4 bonito, 273 calico bass, 4 halibut, 14 lingcod, 1,631 rockfish, 38 sand bass, 12 sanddab, 86 sculpin, 7 sheephead, 8 treefish, 175 whitefish, and 493 yellowtail.

Saltwater: As more vessels come online from off-season boat work and sea temperatures creep up into the low-mid 60s, angler counts and trips are climbing steadily toward average summer numbers. That fishing is excellent relatively close to home doesn’t hurt, and this week the fleet reported over 100 trips carrying over 2.500 passengers. By July, those numbers will be doubled and will hold steady through the rest of the summer/fall season, barring any weeks with bad conditions keeping boats at the docks. Rising fuel prices are causing some longer trips to raise fares or add surcharges, but even so, most trips are sold out by the time they depart, so make sure to book ahead of time if wanting to get in on the great bluefin and yellowtail action that has been developing just south of the border within overnight and 1.5-day range.

Bluefin being bluefin, the bite has been inconsistent this past week. Some boats are scoring limits or near limits and others are posting a handful of fish caught. The larger fish to over 200 pounds are still mostly biting during the dark hours from sunset to sunrise, though a few of the larger brutes have been caught amidst the 20 to 50 pounders biting more prevalently during the day. Live bait, fly-lined or on sinker rigs, and yoyo fishing using butterfly or flat-fall jigs are still the most productive methods, though as waters warm I expect the tactics to shift up in the water column toward poppers and kited flying fish or lures made to represent them. As in years past, by the time bluefin start showing in U.S. waters out west near the Cortez and Tanner banks, they should be more surface-focused when feeding. As the season progresses, anglers should be prepared to fish the entire column, and bring an arsenal of gear suitable for all possibilities. Be sure and check tackle recommendations with the crew before boarding, as they do have rental gear if needed.

Yellowtail are beginning to show the effect of near mid-60 degree water and their numbers are steadily rising, with much of that action just off the Coronado Islands and on offshore kelp paddies in and around the tuna grounds off Ensenada. It shouldn’t be long before we start seeing occasional yellowtail in the local half-day counts as the fish move up the line and into our inshore waters. Calico bass fishing off the kelp edge has been good when currents allow boats to anchor outside and swing the stern toward the action. A moderate current feeding into the kelp is best for calico fishing, as the fish wait in the stringers to ambush baitfish riding along with the push. Currents pushing away from the kelp can make it tough to hold position long enough to present a bait or lure, and slack conditions don’t inspire much of a bite from calicos.

Rockfish have been solid for the boats targeting them, but as the surface action heats up inshore those numbers will drop as calico, barracuda, bonito and other surface-feeding species rise in the counts. It is a great time for those who wish to learn about southern California saltwater fishing while local boats are still targeting rockfish. Being a mostly up-and-down endeavor with average gear, it is a less hectic environment than offshore tuna and yellowtail trips for children and novices to get the hang of the basics. Even if adept in other fisheries, say, on the east coast or freshwater, the SoCal angling scene can be very specialized and confusing without a little guidance. San Diego boasts the world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet, and the crews working it are not only skilled at working the deck in a hot bite, they are also there to instruct and assist anglers in the methods that can be unique to our inshore and offshore fisheries. Fishing is off the hook and only getting better, so get out and get ‘em!

Notable catches this past week:

5/21 - The Polaris Supreme, out with 24 anglers aboard a 3 day trip caught limits of 144 bluefin tuna. The San Diego returned to the dock from their full-day run with 94 yellowtail and 5 bluefin tuna for 34 anglers.

5/20 - 25 anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 3-day run boated 91 bluefin tuna.

5/19 - The New Lo-An called in with 57 bluefin tuna and 11 yellowtail for the 25 anglers aboard their 1.75-day trip.

5/18 - 15 anglers aboard the Fortune extended 1.5 day caught limits of 60 bluefin tuna.

5/17 - Very good local inshore fishing for a light load of 14 anglers aboard the Daily Double resulted in 11 rockfish, 2 sculpin, and 12 calico bass kept out of 77 caught.

Fish Plants: 5/28 - Lake Cuyamaca, trout (700), 5/28 – Doane Pond, trout (Amount N/A)

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One of many quality bluefin tuna comes over the rail for anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 3-day trip.
One of many quality bluefin tuna comes over the rail for anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 3-day trip.

Dock Totals 5/15 – 5/21: 2,578 anglers aboard 117 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 1,076 bluefin tuna (to 232 pounds), 4 bonito, 273 calico bass, 4 halibut, 14 lingcod, 1,631 rockfish, 38 sand bass, 12 sanddab, 86 sculpin, 7 sheephead, 8 treefish, 175 whitefish, and 493 yellowtail.

Saltwater: As more vessels come online from off-season boat work and sea temperatures creep up into the low-mid 60s, angler counts and trips are climbing steadily toward average summer numbers. That fishing is excellent relatively close to home doesn’t hurt, and this week the fleet reported over 100 trips carrying over 2.500 passengers. By July, those numbers will be doubled and will hold steady through the rest of the summer/fall season, barring any weeks with bad conditions keeping boats at the docks. Rising fuel prices are causing some longer trips to raise fares or add surcharges, but even so, most trips are sold out by the time they depart, so make sure to book ahead of time if wanting to get in on the great bluefin and yellowtail action that has been developing just south of the border within overnight and 1.5-day range.

Bluefin being bluefin, the bite has been inconsistent this past week. Some boats are scoring limits or near limits and others are posting a handful of fish caught. The larger fish to over 200 pounds are still mostly biting during the dark hours from sunset to sunrise, though a few of the larger brutes have been caught amidst the 20 to 50 pounders biting more prevalently during the day. Live bait, fly-lined or on sinker rigs, and yoyo fishing using butterfly or flat-fall jigs are still the most productive methods, though as waters warm I expect the tactics to shift up in the water column toward poppers and kited flying fish or lures made to represent them. As in years past, by the time bluefin start showing in U.S. waters out west near the Cortez and Tanner banks, they should be more surface-focused when feeding. As the season progresses, anglers should be prepared to fish the entire column, and bring an arsenal of gear suitable for all possibilities. Be sure and check tackle recommendations with the crew before boarding, as they do have rental gear if needed.

Yellowtail are beginning to show the effect of near mid-60 degree water and their numbers are steadily rising, with much of that action just off the Coronado Islands and on offshore kelp paddies in and around the tuna grounds off Ensenada. It shouldn’t be long before we start seeing occasional yellowtail in the local half-day counts as the fish move up the line and into our inshore waters. Calico bass fishing off the kelp edge has been good when currents allow boats to anchor outside and swing the stern toward the action. A moderate current feeding into the kelp is best for calico fishing, as the fish wait in the stringers to ambush baitfish riding along with the push. Currents pushing away from the kelp can make it tough to hold position long enough to present a bait or lure, and slack conditions don’t inspire much of a bite from calicos.

Rockfish have been solid for the boats targeting them, but as the surface action heats up inshore those numbers will drop as calico, barracuda, bonito and other surface-feeding species rise in the counts. It is a great time for those who wish to learn about southern California saltwater fishing while local boats are still targeting rockfish. Being a mostly up-and-down endeavor with average gear, it is a less hectic environment than offshore tuna and yellowtail trips for children and novices to get the hang of the basics. Even if adept in other fisheries, say, on the east coast or freshwater, the SoCal angling scene can be very specialized and confusing without a little guidance. San Diego boasts the world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet, and the crews working it are not only skilled at working the deck in a hot bite, they are also there to instruct and assist anglers in the methods that can be unique to our inshore and offshore fisheries. Fishing is off the hook and only getting better, so get out and get ‘em!

Notable catches this past week:

5/21 - The Polaris Supreme, out with 24 anglers aboard a 3 day trip caught limits of 144 bluefin tuna. The San Diego returned to the dock from their full-day run with 94 yellowtail and 5 bluefin tuna for 34 anglers.

5/20 - 25 anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 3-day run boated 91 bluefin tuna.

5/19 - The New Lo-An called in with 57 bluefin tuna and 11 yellowtail for the 25 anglers aboard their 1.75-day trip.

5/18 - 15 anglers aboard the Fortune extended 1.5 day caught limits of 60 bluefin tuna.

5/17 - Very good local inshore fishing for a light load of 14 anglers aboard the Daily Double resulted in 11 rockfish, 2 sculpin, and 12 calico bass kept out of 77 caught.

Fish Plants: 5/28 - Lake Cuyamaca, trout (700), 5/28 – Doane Pond, trout (Amount N/A)

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