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Yellowfin and dorado head south while bluefin unfazed by stormy seas

Cool weather means trout season is heating up

Our first photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes for fishing aboard the Premier is 9-year-old Taj Klammer of Encinitas. Taj caught and released this eight-pound roosterfish while fishing near Los Cabos, Baja California Sur in October of this year. Congratulations Taj!
Our first photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes for fishing aboard the Premier is 9-year-old Taj Klammer of Encinitas. Taj caught and released this eight-pound roosterfish while fishing near Los Cabos, Baja California Sur in October of this year. Congratulations Taj!

Fish Pix Win Fish Tix!

Submit your best fishing photo and every 2 weeks we’ll pick our favorite and run it in this column. Winner will also receive 2 half-day passes plus rod and reel rental ($65–$75 value each) for a sport fishing trip courtesy of the San Diego Sportfishing Council.

Contest details


Dock Totals 10/30 – 11/12: 2376 anglers aboard 126 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 870 bluefin tuna (to 241 pounds), 15 bocaccio, 1320 bonito, 215 calico bass, 43 dorado, 2 halibut, 54 lingcod, 1 mako shark (released), 16 rock crab, 3528 rockfish, 104 sand bass, 45 sanddab, 358 sculpin, 427 sheephead, 3 Spanish jack, 2 spider crab, 69 spiny lobster (133 released), 2 swordfish, 1529 whitefish, 543 yellowfin tuna, and 83 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The wind blew, rain fell, seas churned, and water cooled over the past couple weeks. There were a few days when no boats made it out of their slips due to weather, and the angler count was less than half of that during the previous two weeks. Overall, dorado, yellowfin, and even yellowtail counts fell like a rock for the local 1.5- to 3-day fleet. It was to be expected, after the outrageously good fishing through late summer and well into autumn for the more tropical pelagic species. The mass of yellowfin and dorado that was well into U.S. waters has now retreated south toward warmer climes along the mid and southern Baja coast offshore banks, while yellowtail, though tight-lipped at the Coronado Islands, are still scratching away from Ensenada down to San Quintin.

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From there and heading south, the yellowtail bite only gets better, with the best area being along the Vizcaino Peninsula’s southern edge, where November through January is high season for quality yellowtail. Yellowfin, dorado, and wahoo are now at the mercy of the long-range fleet fishing off the southern-most banks and high spots of Baja as their season begins. Reports of cow yellowfin tuna over 300 pounds and wide-open wahoo on surface irons outside of Bahia Magdalena are already trickling in, and all indications are pointing to another great winter for the long-range fleet.

Closer to home, it seems that the bluefin tuna weren’t all that fazed by the cooling water. As the last storm cleared, boats fishing 10 to 20 miles off the southwest end of San Clemente Island and about 65 miles due west of Point Loma reported good limit-style fishing for bluefin up to over 200 pounds. Bluefin can be a finicky biter; they are endothermic and can handle temperature changes better than other tunas, and thus are usually hanging around the banks near San Clemente Island by November, where they seem to spend much of the winter/spring months.

Unlike the other migrating tunas, bluefin do not return to their spawning grounds every year. Not all of them, anyhow. There are annual migrations of bluefin going both directions every year, but those would be the yearling 20-pound or so footballs coming over to feed and grow until they are five to seven years old and around 300 to 400 pounds, which is when they reach maturity and return to their spawning grounds. There are two sub-species of bluefin tuna in the Pacific; the southern Pacific bluefin that spend its life in the western Pacific (from near the Equator and south into the southern hemisphere near New Zealand), and the northern Pacific stocks that we see off our coast.

Most northern Pacific bluefin travel 5000 miles across the Pacific, remain off the coast of California, Baja, and even as far north as Washington until they reach spawning age, then return to the Sea of Japan. Even though females can release between five million and 25 million eggs when spawning, researchers of planktons and microorganisms in the water column have yet to find any bluefin eggs in study captures in the eastern Pacific. The cooling water off our coast has little effect on bluefin tuna, both the tunas returning to spawn and the yearlings coming over make their journey by a northern route that takes them through chilly sub-50-degree water.

There have been no signs of bluefin spawning on our side of the Pacific, and the largest caught here, other than a few 500-pound-plus outliers nabbed commercially outside the Channel Islands in the 1980s, are pushing 400 pounds. Every bluefin tuna caught by the San Diego fleet is at most a pre-spawn juvenile, which can be hard to fathom given their powerful fight. Still, even at 400 pounds, the bluefin tuna we see have a lot of growing to do, as they can live up to 25 years and grow to over nine feet in length and a half ton in weight. The world record northern Pacific bluefin tuna caught by rod and reel stands at 907 pounds.

Though the tropical pelagics have gone south, nearshore, surf, and bay fishing seems to be heating up as the weather cools. Halibut are biting well in both bays, surf perch are showing on the beaches, and sheephead, bass, and sculpin are biting off the kelp edges. Further out, rockfish and whitefish are also biting steadily for those fishing the lower water column on the local banks. Though yellowfin tuna and dorado have most likely bid a fond adieu to the local fleet until next summer, great fishing continues for those getting out there.

Freshwater: As Halloween’s ghouls and goblins are removed to make way for icicles and blinking lights, trout season comes upon us. Last week, Santee Lakes held their trout season opener and did not disappoint, with many anglers walking away with limits. This weekend, November 18-20, Lake Jennings will hold their opener with a stock of 2500 pounds of rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho. At least ten percent of the 20,000-pounds they will stock November through April will be over three pounds.

Seasonal trout plants can also kick other species into gear. Largemouth bass and catfish seem to trigger on the plants, as both love to eat trout, but at least big one bit before the first plant of the season. A 30-pound, 8-ounce blue catfish was caught by David Jenson at Lake Jennings on November 4. Jenson was using cut mackerel while fishing near the T-dock when the big cat hit.

Whether on the open ocean, beach, lake, or bay, they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

10/30 – 12 anglers aboard the Premier had a nice afternoon outing, with 53 rockfish, 3 sheephead, 2 sculpin, and 1 calico bass reported caught.

11/1 – The Excalibur called in with 115 bonito, 15 dorado, 10 yellowfin tuna, 5 yellowtail, and 1 bluefin tuna landed by 23 anglers aboard their 1.5-day trip.

11/4 – 7 hoop-netters aboard the Jig Strike twilight lobster trip hauled 27 lobster (20 released), and 5 rock crab over the rail.

11/6 – 97 bluefin tuna were reported caught by 25 anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 2.5-day trip.

11/8 – Limits for 17 anglers aboard the Old Glory 1.5-day trip, with 34 bluefin caught.

11/12 – The post-storm calm south of San Clemente Island is still producing, as the New Lo-Ann called in with limits of 56 bluefin tuna for the 14 anglers aboard their 2.5-day trip.

Fish Plants: 11/18 – Lake Jennings, trout (2,500)

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Our first photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes for fishing aboard the Premier is 9-year-old Taj Klammer of Encinitas. Taj caught and released this eight-pound roosterfish while fishing near Los Cabos, Baja California Sur in October of this year. Congratulations Taj!
Our first photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes for fishing aboard the Premier is 9-year-old Taj Klammer of Encinitas. Taj caught and released this eight-pound roosterfish while fishing near Los Cabos, Baja California Sur in October of this year. Congratulations Taj!

Fish Pix Win Fish Tix!

Submit your best fishing photo and every 2 weeks we’ll pick our favorite and run it in this column. Winner will also receive 2 half-day passes plus rod and reel rental ($65–$75 value each) for a sport fishing trip courtesy of the San Diego Sportfishing Council.

Contest details


Dock Totals 10/30 – 11/12: 2376 anglers aboard 126 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 870 bluefin tuna (to 241 pounds), 15 bocaccio, 1320 bonito, 215 calico bass, 43 dorado, 2 halibut, 54 lingcod, 1 mako shark (released), 16 rock crab, 3528 rockfish, 104 sand bass, 45 sanddab, 358 sculpin, 427 sheephead, 3 Spanish jack, 2 spider crab, 69 spiny lobster (133 released), 2 swordfish, 1529 whitefish, 543 yellowfin tuna, and 83 yellowtail.

Saltwater: The wind blew, rain fell, seas churned, and water cooled over the past couple weeks. There were a few days when no boats made it out of their slips due to weather, and the angler count was less than half of that during the previous two weeks. Overall, dorado, yellowfin, and even yellowtail counts fell like a rock for the local 1.5- to 3-day fleet. It was to be expected, after the outrageously good fishing through late summer and well into autumn for the more tropical pelagic species. The mass of yellowfin and dorado that was well into U.S. waters has now retreated south toward warmer climes along the mid and southern Baja coast offshore banks, while yellowtail, though tight-lipped at the Coronado Islands, are still scratching away from Ensenada down to San Quintin.

Sponsored
Sponsored

From there and heading south, the yellowtail bite only gets better, with the best area being along the Vizcaino Peninsula’s southern edge, where November through January is high season for quality yellowtail. Yellowfin, dorado, and wahoo are now at the mercy of the long-range fleet fishing off the southern-most banks and high spots of Baja as their season begins. Reports of cow yellowfin tuna over 300 pounds and wide-open wahoo on surface irons outside of Bahia Magdalena are already trickling in, and all indications are pointing to another great winter for the long-range fleet.

Closer to home, it seems that the bluefin tuna weren’t all that fazed by the cooling water. As the last storm cleared, boats fishing 10 to 20 miles off the southwest end of San Clemente Island and about 65 miles due west of Point Loma reported good limit-style fishing for bluefin up to over 200 pounds. Bluefin can be a finicky biter; they are endothermic and can handle temperature changes better than other tunas, and thus are usually hanging around the banks near San Clemente Island by November, where they seem to spend much of the winter/spring months.

Unlike the other migrating tunas, bluefin do not return to their spawning grounds every year. Not all of them, anyhow. There are annual migrations of bluefin going both directions every year, but those would be the yearling 20-pound or so footballs coming over to feed and grow until they are five to seven years old and around 300 to 400 pounds, which is when they reach maturity and return to their spawning grounds. There are two sub-species of bluefin tuna in the Pacific; the southern Pacific bluefin that spend its life in the western Pacific (from near the Equator and south into the southern hemisphere near New Zealand), and the northern Pacific stocks that we see off our coast.

Most northern Pacific bluefin travel 5000 miles across the Pacific, remain off the coast of California, Baja, and even as far north as Washington until they reach spawning age, then return to the Sea of Japan. Even though females can release between five million and 25 million eggs when spawning, researchers of planktons and microorganisms in the water column have yet to find any bluefin eggs in study captures in the eastern Pacific. The cooling water off our coast has little effect on bluefin tuna, both the tunas returning to spawn and the yearlings coming over make their journey by a northern route that takes them through chilly sub-50-degree water.

There have been no signs of bluefin spawning on our side of the Pacific, and the largest caught here, other than a few 500-pound-plus outliers nabbed commercially outside the Channel Islands in the 1980s, are pushing 400 pounds. Every bluefin tuna caught by the San Diego fleet is at most a pre-spawn juvenile, which can be hard to fathom given their powerful fight. Still, even at 400 pounds, the bluefin tuna we see have a lot of growing to do, as they can live up to 25 years and grow to over nine feet in length and a half ton in weight. The world record northern Pacific bluefin tuna caught by rod and reel stands at 907 pounds.

Though the tropical pelagics have gone south, nearshore, surf, and bay fishing seems to be heating up as the weather cools. Halibut are biting well in both bays, surf perch are showing on the beaches, and sheephead, bass, and sculpin are biting off the kelp edges. Further out, rockfish and whitefish are also biting steadily for those fishing the lower water column on the local banks. Though yellowfin tuna and dorado have most likely bid a fond adieu to the local fleet until next summer, great fishing continues for those getting out there.

Freshwater: As Halloween’s ghouls and goblins are removed to make way for icicles and blinking lights, trout season comes upon us. Last week, Santee Lakes held their trout season opener and did not disappoint, with many anglers walking away with limits. This weekend, November 18-20, Lake Jennings will hold their opener with a stock of 2500 pounds of rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho. At least ten percent of the 20,000-pounds they will stock November through April will be over three pounds.

Seasonal trout plants can also kick other species into gear. Largemouth bass and catfish seem to trigger on the plants, as both love to eat trout, but at least big one bit before the first plant of the season. A 30-pound, 8-ounce blue catfish was caught by David Jenson at Lake Jennings on November 4. Jenson was using cut mackerel while fishing near the T-dock when the big cat hit.

Whether on the open ocean, beach, lake, or bay, they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

10/30 – 12 anglers aboard the Premier had a nice afternoon outing, with 53 rockfish, 3 sheephead, 2 sculpin, and 1 calico bass reported caught.

11/1 – The Excalibur called in with 115 bonito, 15 dorado, 10 yellowfin tuna, 5 yellowtail, and 1 bluefin tuna landed by 23 anglers aboard their 1.5-day trip.

11/4 – 7 hoop-netters aboard the Jig Strike twilight lobster trip hauled 27 lobster (20 released), and 5 rock crab over the rail.

11/6 – 97 bluefin tuna were reported caught by 25 anglers aboard the Pacific Queen 2.5-day trip.

11/8 – Limits for 17 anglers aboard the Old Glory 1.5-day trip, with 34 bluefin caught.

11/12 – The post-storm calm south of San Clemente Island is still producing, as the New Lo-Ann called in with limits of 56 bluefin tuna for the 14 anglers aboard their 2.5-day trip.

Fish Plants: 11/18 – Lake Jennings, trout (2,500)

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