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Yellowtail from the rocks at Punta Banda – The loss of San Diego fishing icon Fox Ludwig

"Kid’s ride free" special on the Dolphin

Yellowtail caught from the rocks at Punta Banda just south of Ensenada.(left)
The passing of Fox Ludwig, former president of the San Diego Rod and Reel Club, (right)
Yellowtail caught from the rocks at Punta Banda just south of Ensenada.(left) The passing of Fox Ludwig, former president of the San Diego Rod and Reel Club, (right)

Dock Totals 9/24 – 9/30: 3859 anglers aboard 185 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 4455 bluefin tuna (up to 220 pounds), 107 bonito, 286 calico bass, 434 dorado, 4 halibut, 8 lobster (6 released), 40 perch, 1 petrale sole, 15 rock crab, 934 rockfish, 268 sand bass, 796 sculpin, 77 sheephead, 423 whitefish, 3648 yellowfin tuna, and 379 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Rockfish numbers climbed a bit this past week as anglers are adjusting to the new depth restrictions that allow take in water 300 to 600-feet until the closure of all depths in January through March. Also, rockfish are still legal in Mexican waters at any depth, so boats fishing along the Baja coast factor into that count. For the second week in a row, there have been no lingcod reported, as they tend to inhabit water between 100 and 300-feet. There should be a few popping up occasionally due to the boats fishing south of the border, but for now the primary target for those trips are still the pelagic species; bluefin and yellowfin tunas, dorado, and yellowtail.

Dorado numbers have fallen off to a near-normal for this far north of the semi-tropical and tropical water they prefer, so last year’s ‘invasion’ will not be repeated despite the very high weekly number of nearly 9,000 reported just a few weeks ago. Yellowfin tuna numbers climbed quite a bit, up about 150% from the week previous. Most of those fish, along with a good number of the dorado and bluefin caught, are coming from boats working the Corner area, with the fleet concentrating about 50-60 miles off the coast about even with the international line, in line with and 50 miles southeast of the ‘pointing finger’ of San Clemente Island’s Pyramid Head.

Yellowtail are biting well down the Baja coast from Ensenada south, with many caught by pangeros working inshore reefs off Punta Banda down to south of Bahia Asunción with the exception of San Quintin, where the bite is good but further offshore at the 240 and 15 Banks about 20-miles off the coast. They are tight enough to the beach near Ensenada that anglers fishing bonito from the rocks at Punta Banda have landed a few yellowtail casting from shore. That is quite a feat, as yellows seem to fight harder in the shallows, with long hard seaward runs. Add that they are fishing from rocks with little steady purchase and have to get the fish up on the rocks and that makes it an even more impressive catch. I’ve caught several from shore in Baja over the past decades, but all have been from a sandy beach where it is much easier to slide the fish up onto the sand.

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Calico and sand bass continue to represent the main catch for half-day boats working the kelp edges from off La Jolla to Point Loma, and the Imperial Beach flats in 60 to 90 feet of water, with a few halibut in the mix. Half-day runs are always a good platform to learn about fishing in our local marine biospheres for newcomers and youngsters. Crews are always helpful in explaining the ‘whys and what-fors’ involving west-coast style angling, including tying knots, identifying and how to handle the various species caught. And the boats are large, steady platforms for those developing their sea legs. The Dolphin is running a kid’s special on Sundays, with one child per paid adult riding for free, so if considering taking the youngsters out on a family outing on the water to learn about fishing, this would be a great option. Not to mention, they serve a mean hamburger out of the galley appropriately called the ‘Dolphinburger’. Contact Fisherman’s Landing for reservations.

Lobster season is now open, and initial reports have been good with about a 50% legal size in the hoop catches reported. This is usually the case early in the season, with more larger lobsters in the mix. As the season moves forward, the legal-to-short catch will most likely settle into the 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio. Hoop nets work best when placed near reefs or jetties and baited with oily species of fish, like bonito or sardines. Spiny lobsters are unlike Maine lobsters in that they have no ‘home den’ that they return to after foraging at night. Both are nocturnal, hiding in rocks during the daylight hours, but spiny lobsters march up to a half mile every night and seek the first structure in which to hide as daylight approaches. The most successful hooping is done from the evening after dusk and into the wee hours of the morning before dawn, and when the tidal change is slower with less movement and current. As they will forage into the shallows, one does not need to go far offshore to find them, and most caught locally are in 15 to 40 feet of water.

One last note in the local fishing news. Sadly, on opening night for lobster season, San Diego lost another fishing icon, Fox Ludwig. Fox was a past president of the San Diego Rod and Reel Club and was instrumental in fundraising and other fishing events in the community. Known for his kind heart, love of fishing, and deep voice, he often was the speaker and host for events and raffles held by the club, and though he enjoyed the breadth of fisheries and species within, was especially keyed into catching halibut…so much so, he named his boat ‘Butt Time’. Fox Ludwig went out doing what he loved, and was hooping lobster when he suffered a fatal heart attack on September 29. Rest in Peace, Fox, you will be deeply missed, especially in the San Diego fishing community within which you did so much good work.

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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Yellowtail caught from the rocks at Punta Banda just south of Ensenada.(left)
The passing of Fox Ludwig, former president of the San Diego Rod and Reel Club, (right)
Yellowtail caught from the rocks at Punta Banda just south of Ensenada.(left) The passing of Fox Ludwig, former president of the San Diego Rod and Reel Club, (right)

Dock Totals 9/24 – 9/30: 3859 anglers aboard 185 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 4455 bluefin tuna (up to 220 pounds), 107 bonito, 286 calico bass, 434 dorado, 4 halibut, 8 lobster (6 released), 40 perch, 1 petrale sole, 15 rock crab, 934 rockfish, 268 sand bass, 796 sculpin, 77 sheephead, 423 whitefish, 3648 yellowfin tuna, and 379 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Rockfish numbers climbed a bit this past week as anglers are adjusting to the new depth restrictions that allow take in water 300 to 600-feet until the closure of all depths in January through March. Also, rockfish are still legal in Mexican waters at any depth, so boats fishing along the Baja coast factor into that count. For the second week in a row, there have been no lingcod reported, as they tend to inhabit water between 100 and 300-feet. There should be a few popping up occasionally due to the boats fishing south of the border, but for now the primary target for those trips are still the pelagic species; bluefin and yellowfin tunas, dorado, and yellowtail.

Dorado numbers have fallen off to a near-normal for this far north of the semi-tropical and tropical water they prefer, so last year’s ‘invasion’ will not be repeated despite the very high weekly number of nearly 9,000 reported just a few weeks ago. Yellowfin tuna numbers climbed quite a bit, up about 150% from the week previous. Most of those fish, along with a good number of the dorado and bluefin caught, are coming from boats working the Corner area, with the fleet concentrating about 50-60 miles off the coast about even with the international line, in line with and 50 miles southeast of the ‘pointing finger’ of San Clemente Island’s Pyramid Head.

Yellowtail are biting well down the Baja coast from Ensenada south, with many caught by pangeros working inshore reefs off Punta Banda down to south of Bahia Asunción with the exception of San Quintin, where the bite is good but further offshore at the 240 and 15 Banks about 20-miles off the coast. They are tight enough to the beach near Ensenada that anglers fishing bonito from the rocks at Punta Banda have landed a few yellowtail casting from shore. That is quite a feat, as yellows seem to fight harder in the shallows, with long hard seaward runs. Add that they are fishing from rocks with little steady purchase and have to get the fish up on the rocks and that makes it an even more impressive catch. I’ve caught several from shore in Baja over the past decades, but all have been from a sandy beach where it is much easier to slide the fish up onto the sand.

Sponsored
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Calico and sand bass continue to represent the main catch for half-day boats working the kelp edges from off La Jolla to Point Loma, and the Imperial Beach flats in 60 to 90 feet of water, with a few halibut in the mix. Half-day runs are always a good platform to learn about fishing in our local marine biospheres for newcomers and youngsters. Crews are always helpful in explaining the ‘whys and what-fors’ involving west-coast style angling, including tying knots, identifying and how to handle the various species caught. And the boats are large, steady platforms for those developing their sea legs. The Dolphin is running a kid’s special on Sundays, with one child per paid adult riding for free, so if considering taking the youngsters out on a family outing on the water to learn about fishing, this would be a great option. Not to mention, they serve a mean hamburger out of the galley appropriately called the ‘Dolphinburger’. Contact Fisherman’s Landing for reservations.

Lobster season is now open, and initial reports have been good with about a 50% legal size in the hoop catches reported. This is usually the case early in the season, with more larger lobsters in the mix. As the season moves forward, the legal-to-short catch will most likely settle into the 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio. Hoop nets work best when placed near reefs or jetties and baited with oily species of fish, like bonito or sardines. Spiny lobsters are unlike Maine lobsters in that they have no ‘home den’ that they return to after foraging at night. Both are nocturnal, hiding in rocks during the daylight hours, but spiny lobsters march up to a half mile every night and seek the first structure in which to hide as daylight approaches. The most successful hooping is done from the evening after dusk and into the wee hours of the morning before dawn, and when the tidal change is slower with less movement and current. As they will forage into the shallows, one does not need to go far offshore to find them, and most caught locally are in 15 to 40 feet of water.

One last note in the local fishing news. Sadly, on opening night for lobster season, San Diego lost another fishing icon, Fox Ludwig. Fox was a past president of the San Diego Rod and Reel Club and was instrumental in fundraising and other fishing events in the community. Known for his kind heart, love of fishing, and deep voice, he often was the speaker and host for events and raffles held by the club, and though he enjoyed the breadth of fisheries and species within, was especially keyed into catching halibut…so much so, he named his boat ‘Butt Time’. Fox Ludwig went out doing what he loved, and was hooping lobster when he suffered a fatal heart attack on September 29. Rest in Peace, Fox, you will be deeply missed, especially in the San Diego fishing community within which you did so much good work.

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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