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Hurricane Kay, Albacore on the Intrepid

Kid’s Trout Tournament at Lake Cuyumaca

Angler Jessica Sharp with an albacore in the 20-pound range. Once common, this is a rare sight on a San Diego-based boat these days.
Angler Jessica Sharp with an albacore in the 20-pound range. Once common, this is a rare sight on a San Diego-based boat these days.

Dock Totals 9/4 – 9/17: 8736 anglers aboard 328 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 69 barracuda, 3663 bluefin tuna (to 242 pounds), 1 blue marlin (released), 3 bocaccio, 362 bonito, 2,170 calico bass, 16,485 dorado, 20 gray smoothhound shark, 5 halibut, 4 lingcod, 1151 rockfish, 1 mako shark, 4 octopus, 291 sand bass, 4 sanddab, 241 sculpin, 200 sheephead, 4 skipjack tuna, 1 triggerfish, 137 whitefish, 26 white seabass (released), 2857 yellowfin tuna, and 551 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Hurricane Kay rolled northward along Baja Sur as a Category 1 storm, making landfall at Bahia Asunción, downgrading to a tropical storm then a depression from there. Her effects were varied and far-flung, including high winds and rain in the San Diego County mountains and desert. Aside from damage to roads and structures on both sides of the peninsula north and into the U.S. (including the new seawall at Bahia Asunción), it seems Kay affected fishing as well.

Yellowtail seemed to fall off in the counts drastically, while the dorado bite continued in force. Bluefin were caught in strong numbers just before the storm and have ebbed a bit since. There is much more debris floating about in the offshore currents, which should provide more paddy stops and continued success on dorado for the near future, though how long the bluefin continue to bite is anybody’s guess, as they are always out there somewhere.

Most of the overnight-plus boats cancelled their planned outings and stayed at the dock waiting for the storm to pass. But not the scheduled Intrepid eight-day trip. They instead chose to fish the northern California coast for a species that used to be the meat of the catch in San Diego, and arguably the one species, if there is any one species responsible, for building the world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet here in America’s finest city: Albacore.

Albacore tuna have shifted their migratory pattern northward over the past two decades, especially since the warming trend has increased annually since 2013-2014, and now their near-shore activity is centered near the Oregon/Washington border. Whether it's because they are feeding too deep when close to San Diego or because their migrational pattern completely avoids our warmer waters is debated, but either way, every season over the past decade, someone predicts a hot albacore bite within 50 miles of Point Loma and it hasn’t happened.

Running on intel, the Intrepid found albacore willing to bite as far south as off of Fort Bragg, though not in the numbers hoped for. As the effects of Kay settled, the Intrepid headed back south after getting some good central coast reds along with the albacore and big eye tuna. They finished up their trip catching bluefin and dorado, and came in with quite a mix, even for an eight-day trip. Many applauded the decision to run north rather than postpone the trip, and the hunch turned out great.

As Captain Bill Cavanaugh put it, “Our weather window was perfect, and I was able to gather enough info for us to get up to Fort Bragg and try our luck. We ended our day with 36 albacore that were mostly 18 to 25 pounds. We made the move with the possibility of having a big day on albacore that unfortunately did not happen. We did, however, have an experience that none of us will ever forget, and everyone is stoked that we gave it a try. So, with a hurricane in our way, we went north about the same distance as it would be going south and fishing the Ridge.”

Other effects in the fishery of Kay’s run north included a rare whale shark sighting in U.S. waters, an even more rare megamouth shark sighting, and a locally caught potential world record moray eel by a shore angler in the harbor during the storm. San Diegan Justin Kayasone hooked and landed a 14.44-pound, 52-inch-long moray eel, which, when officially credited, will better the old record of 10.8 pounds by nearly 4 pounds. The eel was weighed on a certified IGFA scale, so it is just a matter of the paperwork going through.

Moray eels are listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List and are found throughout the world’s oceans. As ambush predators, they spend most of their time in rock or coral reefs and caves. They can be extremely aggressive when handled and boast a double row of rear slanted razor-sharp teeth that make escape difficult for prey. They are often commercially fished around the world and used in many dishes. Many ditties are made up about them, given the pronunciation of ‘a moray’, such as, “if you reach into a hole, and something bites but won’t let go, that’s a moray.”

Freshwater: There is a fishing derby for youngsters from ages 3-15 at Lake Cuyamaca this Saturday, September 24. The 22nd Annual O.P. Ball “Fishin’ in the Pines” Kid’s Trout Tournament is free to enter, with many giveaways and raffles for contestants and families. And no, it is not a dance; the O.P. stands for Orville P Ball, who introduced the Florida strain largemouth bass to the west coast. His contribution to San Diego County bass fishing produced impressive results; 11 of the world’s top 25 largemouth bass have come from San Diego County lakes! Other prizes include some gear from Randy Jones and a raffle for a boat. The first 400 kids to enter will receive a free rod and reel. Register in person day of event beginning at 5:30 Saturday morning and good luck to all!

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

9/4 – The New Lo-An called in from their 3-Day trip with a total catch of 78 bluefin tuna (limits), 22 yellowtail, and 2 barracuda for 13 anglers.

9/6 – 23 anglers aboard the Constitution caught U.S. limits of dorado, along with 21 bluefin tuna and 11 yellowfin tuna.

9/8 – 22 anglers aboard the Blue Horizon Full-Day trip caught all gold, with 88 dorado hitting the deck.

9/11 – The day after the remnants of Kay passed through, the San Diego reported 103 yellowfin tuna caught by 35 anglers aboard their Full-Day run.

9/13 – The Fortune, out on a 1.5-Day trip with 15 anglers aboard, called in with 80 dorado, 12 bluefin tuna, and 2 yellowfin tuna in the hold.

9/17 – 16 anglers aboard the Legend 2.5-Day trip caught 179 dorado, 21 bluefin tuna, and 11 yellowfin tuna in US waters, while the Daiwa Pacific went south and caught Mexican limits of 80 yellowfin tuna and 32 dorado for 16 anglers on a 1.5-day run.

Fish Plants: 10/1 - Santee Lakes, catfish (2,500)

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Angler Jessica Sharp with an albacore in the 20-pound range. Once common, this is a rare sight on a San Diego-based boat these days.
Angler Jessica Sharp with an albacore in the 20-pound range. Once common, this is a rare sight on a San Diego-based boat these days.

Dock Totals 9/4 – 9/17: 8736 anglers aboard 328 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 69 barracuda, 3663 bluefin tuna (to 242 pounds), 1 blue marlin (released), 3 bocaccio, 362 bonito, 2,170 calico bass, 16,485 dorado, 20 gray smoothhound shark, 5 halibut, 4 lingcod, 1151 rockfish, 1 mako shark, 4 octopus, 291 sand bass, 4 sanddab, 241 sculpin, 200 sheephead, 4 skipjack tuna, 1 triggerfish, 137 whitefish, 26 white seabass (released), 2857 yellowfin tuna, and 551 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Hurricane Kay rolled northward along Baja Sur as a Category 1 storm, making landfall at Bahia Asunción, downgrading to a tropical storm then a depression from there. Her effects were varied and far-flung, including high winds and rain in the San Diego County mountains and desert. Aside from damage to roads and structures on both sides of the peninsula north and into the U.S. (including the new seawall at Bahia Asunción), it seems Kay affected fishing as well.

Yellowtail seemed to fall off in the counts drastically, while the dorado bite continued in force. Bluefin were caught in strong numbers just before the storm and have ebbed a bit since. There is much more debris floating about in the offshore currents, which should provide more paddy stops and continued success on dorado for the near future, though how long the bluefin continue to bite is anybody’s guess, as they are always out there somewhere.

Most of the overnight-plus boats cancelled their planned outings and stayed at the dock waiting for the storm to pass. But not the scheduled Intrepid eight-day trip. They instead chose to fish the northern California coast for a species that used to be the meat of the catch in San Diego, and arguably the one species, if there is any one species responsible, for building the world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet here in America’s finest city: Albacore.

Albacore tuna have shifted their migratory pattern northward over the past two decades, especially since the warming trend has increased annually since 2013-2014, and now their near-shore activity is centered near the Oregon/Washington border. Whether it's because they are feeding too deep when close to San Diego or because their migrational pattern completely avoids our warmer waters is debated, but either way, every season over the past decade, someone predicts a hot albacore bite within 50 miles of Point Loma and it hasn’t happened.

Running on intel, the Intrepid found albacore willing to bite as far south as off of Fort Bragg, though not in the numbers hoped for. As the effects of Kay settled, the Intrepid headed back south after getting some good central coast reds along with the albacore and big eye tuna. They finished up their trip catching bluefin and dorado, and came in with quite a mix, even for an eight-day trip. Many applauded the decision to run north rather than postpone the trip, and the hunch turned out great.

As Captain Bill Cavanaugh put it, “Our weather window was perfect, and I was able to gather enough info for us to get up to Fort Bragg and try our luck. We ended our day with 36 albacore that were mostly 18 to 25 pounds. We made the move with the possibility of having a big day on albacore that unfortunately did not happen. We did, however, have an experience that none of us will ever forget, and everyone is stoked that we gave it a try. So, with a hurricane in our way, we went north about the same distance as it would be going south and fishing the Ridge.”

Other effects in the fishery of Kay’s run north included a rare whale shark sighting in U.S. waters, an even more rare megamouth shark sighting, and a locally caught potential world record moray eel by a shore angler in the harbor during the storm. San Diegan Justin Kayasone hooked and landed a 14.44-pound, 52-inch-long moray eel, which, when officially credited, will better the old record of 10.8 pounds by nearly 4 pounds. The eel was weighed on a certified IGFA scale, so it is just a matter of the paperwork going through.

Moray eels are listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List and are found throughout the world’s oceans. As ambush predators, they spend most of their time in rock or coral reefs and caves. They can be extremely aggressive when handled and boast a double row of rear slanted razor-sharp teeth that make escape difficult for prey. They are often commercially fished around the world and used in many dishes. Many ditties are made up about them, given the pronunciation of ‘a moray’, such as, “if you reach into a hole, and something bites but won’t let go, that’s a moray.”

Freshwater: There is a fishing derby for youngsters from ages 3-15 at Lake Cuyamaca this Saturday, September 24. The 22nd Annual O.P. Ball “Fishin’ in the Pines” Kid’s Trout Tournament is free to enter, with many giveaways and raffles for contestants and families. And no, it is not a dance; the O.P. stands for Orville P Ball, who introduced the Florida strain largemouth bass to the west coast. His contribution to San Diego County bass fishing produced impressive results; 11 of the world’s top 25 largemouth bass have come from San Diego County lakes! Other prizes include some gear from Randy Jones and a raffle for a boat. The first 400 kids to enter will receive a free rod and reel. Register in person day of event beginning at 5:30 Saturday morning and good luck to all!

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

9/4 – The New Lo-An called in from their 3-Day trip with a total catch of 78 bluefin tuna (limits), 22 yellowtail, and 2 barracuda for 13 anglers.

9/6 – 23 anglers aboard the Constitution caught U.S. limits of dorado, along with 21 bluefin tuna and 11 yellowfin tuna.

9/8 – 22 anglers aboard the Blue Horizon Full-Day trip caught all gold, with 88 dorado hitting the deck.

9/11 – The day after the remnants of Kay passed through, the San Diego reported 103 yellowfin tuna caught by 35 anglers aboard their Full-Day run.

9/13 – The Fortune, out on a 1.5-Day trip with 15 anglers aboard, called in with 80 dorado, 12 bluefin tuna, and 2 yellowfin tuna in the hold.

9/17 – 16 anglers aboard the Legend 2.5-Day trip caught 179 dorado, 21 bluefin tuna, and 11 yellowfin tuna in US waters, while the Daiwa Pacific went south and caught Mexican limits of 80 yellowfin tuna and 32 dorado for 16 anglers on a 1.5-day run.

Fish Plants: 10/1 - Santee Lakes, catfish (2,500)

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