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Bluefin tuna counts edging up with more fish showing on the surface

Take advantage of the world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet and one of the world’s most diverse fisheries along the Baja Peninsula

“Quality or quantity? On this trip we’ll take both. Wide open fishing the past 2 days!” – Legend Sportfishing
“Quality or quantity? On this trip we’ll take both. Wide open fishing the past 2 days!” – Legend Sportfishing

Dock Totals 5/28– 6/3: 2854 anglers aboard 130 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 1 barracuda, 756 bluefin tuna (up to 180 pounds), 45 bocaccio, 21 bonito, 341 calico bass, 2 halibut, 5 lingcod, 2 perch, 7732 rockfish, 65 sand bass, 265 sanddab, 27 sculpin, 117 sheephead, 11 Spanish jack, 6 treefish, 362 whitefish, 1 yellowfin tuna, and 564 yellowtail.

Saltwater: It seems a wayward yellowfin tuna made into the counts a bit early this year when the Legend picked one up on June 4th within two-day range of Point Loma. Normally, yellowfin don’t show up that close until the end of June or early July. The water is still a bit cool for their liking, and though the yellowfin fishing further down the line has been excellent for long range boats working off Bahia Magdalena in Baja Sur, there hadn’t been any reports of yellowfin north of Cedros Island yet in 2023. Just the one lonely fish on an otherwise tough day for bluefin. But given predictions of an El Niño year, I reckon the counts will feature plenty of yellowfin in a month or so, if not sooner.

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Bluefin have been on and off for the boats, with no real explanation of the inconsistency other than the old saying, “That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.” But some of the blame can be placed on the wide range of the size of bluefin encountered. As anglers typically “tool down” to lighter gear when on a school of 20- to 40-pound fish, when larger fish show up or in a mixed school, those fishing the lighter gear will have to just watch the big fish take their line and break off.

There is no stopping a 200-pound bluefin on the 25- to 30-pound gear normally used when you’re chasing smaller fish. The heavy gear doesn’t do so well as far as getting bit by the smaller fish, so that’s the quandary. Don’t get bit, or risk getting spooled by a giant. Still, catching bluefin in numbers of any size within overnight range seems to be the new normal, and the fleet has been focusing on that bite — and rockfish in the same areas when bluefin limits are met, or when the tuna and yellowtail are sluggish. If planning on any of the bluefin trips from overnight to 3-day runs, it is suggested to have at least one setup for lighter tuna and yellowtail in the 25- to 30-pound line class, one deep rig for rockfish jigging or bait, and one larger setup in the 80- to 100-pound range for the larger tuna. Any voids in one’s quiver can be supplied by rentals at any of the landings, and it is a good idea to do so.

The inconsistency in the bite has been turning more consistent as we progress into summer, and foamers are starting to show more on the surface, which is a sign of more active feeding. We are still in the early part of the season, where planning a trip length that includes night fishing on metered fish is a good way to up the odds of success, but not too far from when we should see more daytime surface action on poppers and kited baits.

Those wanting to head south of the border to look for a shorter ride to the fish can find good results with operations like Mara’s and Blackfin out of Ensenada. They have been doing well on bluefin to over 100 pounds within panga range of Punta Banda, though most have been around 30 to 40 pounds. Same story there as with the San Diego fleet if the tuna do not bite; sporadic yellowtail or rockfish are around in good size and numbers. Trips out of Ensenada on a panga that fishes 3 to 4 people run from around $350 for inshore to $650 for offshore tuna trips.

The cost per angler is low compared to a trip out of San Diego that gives the same amount of fishing time in the same area — low enough that you can get a hotel, have a night on the town, go fish on the panga while nursing that well-earned hangover, and hopefully make your way home with an ice chest full of vacuum-packed filets. Then again, you will have a bunk, booze, and good food on any overnight to multi-day run aboard one of the San Diego fleet’s boats without having to drive or make that northbound border crossing, which can be 30 minutes or several hours, depending. And hangovers are much fiercer when you’re aboard a smaller vessel. I reckon it’s about as subjective as it gets, but at least we anglers in Southern California have the options of the world’s largest and finest live-bait sportfishing fleet and one of the world’s best and most diverse fisheries along both coasts of the Baja Peninsula.

The one thing for sure is that they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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“Quality or quantity? On this trip we’ll take both. Wide open fishing the past 2 days!” – Legend Sportfishing
“Quality or quantity? On this trip we’ll take both. Wide open fishing the past 2 days!” – Legend Sportfishing

Dock Totals 5/28– 6/3: 2854 anglers aboard 130 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 1 barracuda, 756 bluefin tuna (up to 180 pounds), 45 bocaccio, 21 bonito, 341 calico bass, 2 halibut, 5 lingcod, 2 perch, 7732 rockfish, 65 sand bass, 265 sanddab, 27 sculpin, 117 sheephead, 11 Spanish jack, 6 treefish, 362 whitefish, 1 yellowfin tuna, and 564 yellowtail.

Saltwater: It seems a wayward yellowfin tuna made into the counts a bit early this year when the Legend picked one up on June 4th within two-day range of Point Loma. Normally, yellowfin don’t show up that close until the end of June or early July. The water is still a bit cool for their liking, and though the yellowfin fishing further down the line has been excellent for long range boats working off Bahia Magdalena in Baja Sur, there hadn’t been any reports of yellowfin north of Cedros Island yet in 2023. Just the one lonely fish on an otherwise tough day for bluefin. But given predictions of an El Niño year, I reckon the counts will feature plenty of yellowfin in a month or so, if not sooner.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Bluefin have been on and off for the boats, with no real explanation of the inconsistency other than the old saying, “That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.” But some of the blame can be placed on the wide range of the size of bluefin encountered. As anglers typically “tool down” to lighter gear when on a school of 20- to 40-pound fish, when larger fish show up or in a mixed school, those fishing the lighter gear will have to just watch the big fish take their line and break off.

There is no stopping a 200-pound bluefin on the 25- to 30-pound gear normally used when you’re chasing smaller fish. The heavy gear doesn’t do so well as far as getting bit by the smaller fish, so that’s the quandary. Don’t get bit, or risk getting spooled by a giant. Still, catching bluefin in numbers of any size within overnight range seems to be the new normal, and the fleet has been focusing on that bite — and rockfish in the same areas when bluefin limits are met, or when the tuna and yellowtail are sluggish. If planning on any of the bluefin trips from overnight to 3-day runs, it is suggested to have at least one setup for lighter tuna and yellowtail in the 25- to 30-pound line class, one deep rig for rockfish jigging or bait, and one larger setup in the 80- to 100-pound range for the larger tuna. Any voids in one’s quiver can be supplied by rentals at any of the landings, and it is a good idea to do so.

The inconsistency in the bite has been turning more consistent as we progress into summer, and foamers are starting to show more on the surface, which is a sign of more active feeding. We are still in the early part of the season, where planning a trip length that includes night fishing on metered fish is a good way to up the odds of success, but not too far from when we should see more daytime surface action on poppers and kited baits.

Those wanting to head south of the border to look for a shorter ride to the fish can find good results with operations like Mara’s and Blackfin out of Ensenada. They have been doing well on bluefin to over 100 pounds within panga range of Punta Banda, though most have been around 30 to 40 pounds. Same story there as with the San Diego fleet if the tuna do not bite; sporadic yellowtail or rockfish are around in good size and numbers. Trips out of Ensenada on a panga that fishes 3 to 4 people run from around $350 for inshore to $650 for offshore tuna trips.

The cost per angler is low compared to a trip out of San Diego that gives the same amount of fishing time in the same area — low enough that you can get a hotel, have a night on the town, go fish on the panga while nursing that well-earned hangover, and hopefully make your way home with an ice chest full of vacuum-packed filets. Then again, you will have a bunk, booze, and good food on any overnight to multi-day run aboard one of the San Diego fleet’s boats without having to drive or make that northbound border crossing, which can be 30 minutes or several hours, depending. And hangovers are much fiercer when you’re aboard a smaller vessel. I reckon it’s about as subjective as it gets, but at least we anglers in Southern California have the options of the world’s largest and finest live-bait sportfishing fleet and one of the world’s best and most diverse fisheries along both coasts of the Baja Peninsula.

The one thing for sure is that they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

Here's something you might be interested in.
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Peter King lives a cell-free life

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Building's owner Douglas Hamm thinks it's "perfect"
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