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Shortbill spearfish caught off Washington another first

Over 70,000 Dorado caught since August by local fleet

Another happy angler with a dorado and a tuna caught while fishing aboard the Dolphin.
Another happy angler with a dorado and a tuna caught while fishing aboard the Dolphin.

Dock Totals 10/2 – 10/15: 7358 anglers aboard 372 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 4065 bluefin tuna (to 250 pounds), 864 bonito, 515 calico bass, 10,203 dorado, 5 halibut, 6 lingcod, 135 spiny lobster, 1 mako shark, 384 rock crab, 2542 rockfish, 1 rock sole, 120 sand bass, 1635 sculpin, 102 sheephead, 42 skipjack tuna, 14 treefish, 448 whitefish, 8282 yellowfin tuna, and 451 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Another rare catch in a standout season was recorded near Westport, Washington, when the first known shortbilled spearfish was landed 45 miles west of the Columbia River. Shortbill spearfish usually enjoy a more tropical marine biosphere and are common in Hawaii or the Mediterranean. There was one caught in California waters in 2017, but even that was a remarkable catch. In a twist of irony, maybe, the once plentiful albacore within 50 miles of Point Loma have been mostly absent here and common further north over recent years, with the meat of the recreational albacore catch now centering off of Westport.

The dorado bite in U.S. water may have tapered off a bit over the past two weeks, but they are still out there in ‘never seen before’ numbers. Since the incursion into US waters in early August, over 70,000 dorado have been reported by boats fishing within 3-day range or less, and many of those caught were caught north of the border. Given the difference in California and Mexican limits of 10 and 2, respectively, we have never seen these kinds of numbers for the prized and normally sustainable species (also known as mahimahi in Polynesia and most menus in the U.S. where it is served).

The question now, if these kinds of migration shifts become more normal, as has that of albacore over the past decade and a half, will a ten fish limit on one of fastest-growing and short-lived gamefish species be a sustainable model? In Florida, where dorado (more commonly called dolphinfish there) are more present in warmer waters, as average catches were growing smaller in both size and number caught, they eventually lowered the limit from 10 to 5 on the Atlantic side and imposed a minimum size of 24 inches. On the gulf side, where the fish are more plentiful, the limit is still 10 fish, but the minimum size is still 24 inches, and there is a boat limit of 60 total for all of Florida. No other state or city hosts a fleet like San Diego’s; Florida recreational charters are smaller boats carrying fewer anglers. Californians who don’t own boats or cannot afford chartering smaller yachts have much more access to offshore fishing, and the species usually not caught from shore, pier, or jetties.

Here, boats have been posting catches in the hundreds per day, with many of these fish being young 3- to 4-month-old fish and up to 12 pounds. As an anomaly, it might not be an issue in the long run, but given the size and average load of the San Diego fleet, if it becomes a new normal, the Department of Fish and Wildlife may need to set new guidelines concerning dorado size and possession limits. A plus for dorado and their sustainability, they can begin spawning at a very young age, and even a small 24” fish has had a chance to spawn.

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Speaking of changes by the CDFW, the long-awaited year-round fishing licenses will be on sale by mid-November. As per their recent announcement, “Beginning November 15, 2022, California anglers will be able to purchase a 2023 fishing license that will take effect on January 1, 2023, and last the entire year. All licenses purchased on or after January 1, 2023, will be effective from the date of purchase for a continuous 365 days.” Many folks buy their licenses on the first of the year and this wouldn’t affect them much, but folks who fish during specific seasons can purchase their licenses to better suit their habits.

With the old system, if you bought an annual license, say, in June, it was only good until the end of the year, and the angler would be paying a full annual fee for six months of fishing. It only makes sense to go 365, and finally California stepped up to the plate. Will it cost or produce more funds for the CDFW? Well, considering the financial bottom line for the department, other states that have gone to the 365-day format realized a drop in license fees over the first year following the change, but an increase going forward from there.

Fishing over the past two weeks has been up and down per species, with bluefin, dorado, and yellowfin counts still high, while yellowtail, a normal summer/fall standout, have been waning. With many boats rounding Point Loma to seek out the more glamorous tunas and dorado, this is probably more of a reason than a decline in yellowtail numbers in the fishery. As we progress toward winter, rockfish numbers should rise as the targeted fishery changes toward groundfish, but if the tuna bite wanes fast with cooling water, yellowtail should rise a bit in the counts before they thin out.

Lobster season kicked off with a bang, and as is normally the case, legal sized lobsters have been about 40% of the catch of those hoop-netting them. That number has historically dwindled as the season progresses to around 20%. Still, the numbers are good, and the population of California spiny lobster seems healthy. All in all, just another great two weeks in the fishery. They’re out there, go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

10/2 – 8 hoop-netters aboard the Alicia caught 37 lobster (27 released) and 3 rock crab during their evening run.

10/4 – Productive local fishing aboard the Dolphin ½-Day PM run for the 14 anglers aboard, with 25 rockfish, 10 sheephead, 8 sculpin, 3 sand bass, 2 bonito, and 1 calico bass caught.

10/6 – The Oceanside 95, now fishing out of San Diego, called in with 189 yellowfin tuna, 116 dorado, 25 bluefin tuna, and 10 skipjack tuna caught by 29 anglers aboard their 1.5-Day run.

10/9 – 27 anglers aboard the Excaliber 2-Day trip caught 270 dorado, 63 yellowfin tuna, and 2 bluefin tuna.

10/12 – The Poseidon reported 162 dorado (Mexican 3-day limits), 40 yellowfin tuna, 20 yellowtail, and 3 bluefin tuna.

10/14 – 160 yellowfin tuna and 1 bluefin tuna were caught by 32 anglers aboard the San Diego Full-Day run.

Fish Plants: None scheduled

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Another happy angler with a dorado and a tuna caught while fishing aboard the Dolphin.
Another happy angler with a dorado and a tuna caught while fishing aboard the Dolphin.

Dock Totals 10/2 – 10/15: 7358 anglers aboard 372 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 4065 bluefin tuna (to 250 pounds), 864 bonito, 515 calico bass, 10,203 dorado, 5 halibut, 6 lingcod, 135 spiny lobster, 1 mako shark, 384 rock crab, 2542 rockfish, 1 rock sole, 120 sand bass, 1635 sculpin, 102 sheephead, 42 skipjack tuna, 14 treefish, 448 whitefish, 8282 yellowfin tuna, and 451 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Another rare catch in a standout season was recorded near Westport, Washington, when the first known shortbilled spearfish was landed 45 miles west of the Columbia River. Shortbill spearfish usually enjoy a more tropical marine biosphere and are common in Hawaii or the Mediterranean. There was one caught in California waters in 2017, but even that was a remarkable catch. In a twist of irony, maybe, the once plentiful albacore within 50 miles of Point Loma have been mostly absent here and common further north over recent years, with the meat of the recreational albacore catch now centering off of Westport.

The dorado bite in U.S. water may have tapered off a bit over the past two weeks, but they are still out there in ‘never seen before’ numbers. Since the incursion into US waters in early August, over 70,000 dorado have been reported by boats fishing within 3-day range or less, and many of those caught were caught north of the border. Given the difference in California and Mexican limits of 10 and 2, respectively, we have never seen these kinds of numbers for the prized and normally sustainable species (also known as mahimahi in Polynesia and most menus in the U.S. where it is served).

The question now, if these kinds of migration shifts become more normal, as has that of albacore over the past decade and a half, will a ten fish limit on one of fastest-growing and short-lived gamefish species be a sustainable model? In Florida, where dorado (more commonly called dolphinfish there) are more present in warmer waters, as average catches were growing smaller in both size and number caught, they eventually lowered the limit from 10 to 5 on the Atlantic side and imposed a minimum size of 24 inches. On the gulf side, where the fish are more plentiful, the limit is still 10 fish, but the minimum size is still 24 inches, and there is a boat limit of 60 total for all of Florida. No other state or city hosts a fleet like San Diego’s; Florida recreational charters are smaller boats carrying fewer anglers. Californians who don’t own boats or cannot afford chartering smaller yachts have much more access to offshore fishing, and the species usually not caught from shore, pier, or jetties.

Here, boats have been posting catches in the hundreds per day, with many of these fish being young 3- to 4-month-old fish and up to 12 pounds. As an anomaly, it might not be an issue in the long run, but given the size and average load of the San Diego fleet, if it becomes a new normal, the Department of Fish and Wildlife may need to set new guidelines concerning dorado size and possession limits. A plus for dorado and their sustainability, they can begin spawning at a very young age, and even a small 24” fish has had a chance to spawn.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Speaking of changes by the CDFW, the long-awaited year-round fishing licenses will be on sale by mid-November. As per their recent announcement, “Beginning November 15, 2022, California anglers will be able to purchase a 2023 fishing license that will take effect on January 1, 2023, and last the entire year. All licenses purchased on or after January 1, 2023, will be effective from the date of purchase for a continuous 365 days.” Many folks buy their licenses on the first of the year and this wouldn’t affect them much, but folks who fish during specific seasons can purchase their licenses to better suit their habits.

With the old system, if you bought an annual license, say, in June, it was only good until the end of the year, and the angler would be paying a full annual fee for six months of fishing. It only makes sense to go 365, and finally California stepped up to the plate. Will it cost or produce more funds for the CDFW? Well, considering the financial bottom line for the department, other states that have gone to the 365-day format realized a drop in license fees over the first year following the change, but an increase going forward from there.

Fishing over the past two weeks has been up and down per species, with bluefin, dorado, and yellowfin counts still high, while yellowtail, a normal summer/fall standout, have been waning. With many boats rounding Point Loma to seek out the more glamorous tunas and dorado, this is probably more of a reason than a decline in yellowtail numbers in the fishery. As we progress toward winter, rockfish numbers should rise as the targeted fishery changes toward groundfish, but if the tuna bite wanes fast with cooling water, yellowtail should rise a bit in the counts before they thin out.

Lobster season kicked off with a bang, and as is normally the case, legal sized lobsters have been about 40% of the catch of those hoop-netting them. That number has historically dwindled as the season progresses to around 20%. Still, the numbers are good, and the population of California spiny lobster seems healthy. All in all, just another great two weeks in the fishery. They’re out there, go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

10/2 – 8 hoop-netters aboard the Alicia caught 37 lobster (27 released) and 3 rock crab during their evening run.

10/4 – Productive local fishing aboard the Dolphin ½-Day PM run for the 14 anglers aboard, with 25 rockfish, 10 sheephead, 8 sculpin, 3 sand bass, 2 bonito, and 1 calico bass caught.

10/6 – The Oceanside 95, now fishing out of San Diego, called in with 189 yellowfin tuna, 116 dorado, 25 bluefin tuna, and 10 skipjack tuna caught by 29 anglers aboard their 1.5-Day run.

10/9 – 27 anglers aboard the Excaliber 2-Day trip caught 270 dorado, 63 yellowfin tuna, and 2 bluefin tuna.

10/12 – The Poseidon reported 162 dorado (Mexican 3-day limits), 40 yellowfin tuna, 20 yellowtail, and 3 bluefin tuna.

10/14 – 160 yellowfin tuna and 1 bluefin tuna were caught by 32 anglers aboard the San Diego Full-Day run.

Fish Plants: None scheduled

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