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Bluefin disappear but should soon return – Good yellowtail bite down south

Lake level lowered at Lake Jennings for repairs

Blackfin Sportfishing out of Ensenada has been scoring well on yellowtail when conditions allow.
Blackfin Sportfishing out of Ensenada has been scoring well on yellowtail when conditions allow.

Dock Totals 3/31 – 4/6: 889 anglers aboard 36 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 65 bocaccio, 1 calico bass, 20 halibut, 6 lingcod, 4098 rockfish, 90 sand bass, 33 sanddab, 200 sculpin, 17 sheephead, and 262 whitefish.


Saltwater: There was quite a leap in rockfish numbers over the previous week, even with a couple unfishable days for the fleet due to weather on the week of the rockfish opener in U.S. waters. The concentration of efforts for the deeper-dwelling groundfish eased pressure on the sculpin and sand bass that tend to haunt shallower more inshore areas, so those numbers dropped substantially. This is no real surprise, though going from a few hundred fish to over four thousand is an impressive change, especially with new limits reduced from four fish to two fish for vermillion rockfish. 

What was surprising was the disappearance of bluefin tuna from the grounds off northern Baja to the Corner. What looked to be the beginning of an excellent bite, with fish to nearly 200 pounds, turned to nada in the span of two days. Given the choppy, rolling seas, which meant fewer boats getting out looking for them, a drop of numbers was expected, but that they seemed to just drop out of sight even for the spotter planes sent out to locate schools is a bit confounding. Some folks think maybe the weather or bait movement drove them deeper, as the bluefin’s endothermic system allows it to feed throughout the water column regardless of temperature changes. 

That said, very few bluefin were metered, and those that were seemed tight-lipped and did not hit the jigs or baits offered them. As bluefin tend to work their way up the line as spring progresses toward summer — when they can be found further north around the high spots off San Clemente Island out to the Cortez and Tanner banks — maybe they are north of where they were looking. But either way, I have confidence they will show again soon. After all, we didn’t get any in the counts until mid-April last year, so this year’s bite, which came within striking range of the 1.5-day boats in March, was a bit early. As the seas settle and more trips get out there, we should see them in the counts this week — or at least by the time folks get their taxes done.

The weather also accounts for the lack of yellowtail in the reports, though pangeros working out of Ensenada south to past Bahia Asuncion have been getting steady action on the powerful jacks. With that going on, the 1.5- to 3-day trips coming up will probably concentrate their efforts first on bluefin, and if that produces no action, they’ll go coastal and target yellows. Anglers are often more finicky than the fish, and with the bluefin missing in action, ticket sales will probably drop on those trips, but in every season, there will be that trip folks regret not taking. With the prospect of loading up on yellowtail and rockfish if no bluefin are found, it seems likely that only bluefin-or-nothing diehards will await more favorable reports.

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Sponsored

Given this year’s wet and windy start to the season, that we got on them so early is impressive, and given the bluefin’s migratory habits, it’s safe to say that they are always out there somewhere within range. Its just a matter of locating a hungry school; then things can turn on a dime. Let’s hope for that to happen sooner than later. Until then, you can always head over to fish vendors like Tommy Gomes at Tunaville Market and Grocery and get some fresh steaks, or even try some of his excellent dry-aged fish or fish sausage, made from species he sources fresh from the commercial boats. We San Diegans who love fresh fish on our tables are lucky to have not only an amazing fishery and sportfishing fleet, but also several vendors, including fishmonger Gomes and the folks at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market at the Embarcadero on Saturdays. 

Freshwater: Trout season is nearing its end here in the San Diego area, though fishing has been steady on the stockers for those targeting them. Lake Jennings will have their last plant of 1500-pounds of rainbow trout on April 15 and just received 1500-pounds this past week, so that is one of many options for those wanting to make the best of the last couple weeks of the season. Also, I should note that they will be dropping the lake level about 23 feet for access to needed repairs this month. With the drawdown, the stockers may be more concentrated, but some shoreline access may be limited.

The trout bite is still on, as exampled by San Diego angler Tracy Hartman with a nice golden trout scored from the kayak at Lake Hemet.


As per their website notice: “The Helix Water District will temporarily lower Lake Jennings by approximately 23 feet starting in April. The drawdown will facilitate maintenance of the reservoir’s outlet tower and allow for the construction of a new pipeline during the summer months to deliver water from the East County Advanced Water Purification Program to the lake starting in 2026. The lowering of the lake may impact access and activities in and around the lake at various times. Please go to hwd.fyi/lake before you visit and read posted signs at the lake for updates regarding water levels and access to the fishing dock, boat dock, boat ramp and shoreline fishing. Helix will restore the lake to full capacity by November.” 

Whether fishing saltwater or freshwater, they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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Blackfin Sportfishing out of Ensenada has been scoring well on yellowtail when conditions allow.
Blackfin Sportfishing out of Ensenada has been scoring well on yellowtail when conditions allow.

Dock Totals 3/31 – 4/6: 889 anglers aboard 36 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 65 bocaccio, 1 calico bass, 20 halibut, 6 lingcod, 4098 rockfish, 90 sand bass, 33 sanddab, 200 sculpin, 17 sheephead, and 262 whitefish.


Saltwater: There was quite a leap in rockfish numbers over the previous week, even with a couple unfishable days for the fleet due to weather on the week of the rockfish opener in U.S. waters. The concentration of efforts for the deeper-dwelling groundfish eased pressure on the sculpin and sand bass that tend to haunt shallower more inshore areas, so those numbers dropped substantially. This is no real surprise, though going from a few hundred fish to over four thousand is an impressive change, especially with new limits reduced from four fish to two fish for vermillion rockfish. 

What was surprising was the disappearance of bluefin tuna from the grounds off northern Baja to the Corner. What looked to be the beginning of an excellent bite, with fish to nearly 200 pounds, turned to nada in the span of two days. Given the choppy, rolling seas, which meant fewer boats getting out looking for them, a drop of numbers was expected, but that they seemed to just drop out of sight even for the spotter planes sent out to locate schools is a bit confounding. Some folks think maybe the weather or bait movement drove them deeper, as the bluefin’s endothermic system allows it to feed throughout the water column regardless of temperature changes. 

That said, very few bluefin were metered, and those that were seemed tight-lipped and did not hit the jigs or baits offered them. As bluefin tend to work their way up the line as spring progresses toward summer — when they can be found further north around the high spots off San Clemente Island out to the Cortez and Tanner banks — maybe they are north of where they were looking. But either way, I have confidence they will show again soon. After all, we didn’t get any in the counts until mid-April last year, so this year’s bite, which came within striking range of the 1.5-day boats in March, was a bit early. As the seas settle and more trips get out there, we should see them in the counts this week — or at least by the time folks get their taxes done.

The weather also accounts for the lack of yellowtail in the reports, though pangeros working out of Ensenada south to past Bahia Asuncion have been getting steady action on the powerful jacks. With that going on, the 1.5- to 3-day trips coming up will probably concentrate their efforts first on bluefin, and if that produces no action, they’ll go coastal and target yellows. Anglers are often more finicky than the fish, and with the bluefin missing in action, ticket sales will probably drop on those trips, but in every season, there will be that trip folks regret not taking. With the prospect of loading up on yellowtail and rockfish if no bluefin are found, it seems likely that only bluefin-or-nothing diehards will await more favorable reports.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Given this year’s wet and windy start to the season, that we got on them so early is impressive, and given the bluefin’s migratory habits, it’s safe to say that they are always out there somewhere within range. Its just a matter of locating a hungry school; then things can turn on a dime. Let’s hope for that to happen sooner than later. Until then, you can always head over to fish vendors like Tommy Gomes at Tunaville Market and Grocery and get some fresh steaks, or even try some of his excellent dry-aged fish or fish sausage, made from species he sources fresh from the commercial boats. We San Diegans who love fresh fish on our tables are lucky to have not only an amazing fishery and sportfishing fleet, but also several vendors, including fishmonger Gomes and the folks at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market at the Embarcadero on Saturdays. 

Freshwater: Trout season is nearing its end here in the San Diego area, though fishing has been steady on the stockers for those targeting them. Lake Jennings will have their last plant of 1500-pounds of rainbow trout on April 15 and just received 1500-pounds this past week, so that is one of many options for those wanting to make the best of the last couple weeks of the season. Also, I should note that they will be dropping the lake level about 23 feet for access to needed repairs this month. With the drawdown, the stockers may be more concentrated, but some shoreline access may be limited.

The trout bite is still on, as exampled by San Diego angler Tracy Hartman with a nice golden trout scored from the kayak at Lake Hemet.


As per their website notice: “The Helix Water District will temporarily lower Lake Jennings by approximately 23 feet starting in April. The drawdown will facilitate maintenance of the reservoir’s outlet tower and allow for the construction of a new pipeline during the summer months to deliver water from the East County Advanced Water Purification Program to the lake starting in 2026. The lowering of the lake may impact access and activities in and around the lake at various times. Please go to hwd.fyi/lake before you visit and read posted signs at the lake for updates regarding water levels and access to the fishing dock, boat dock, boat ramp and shoreline fishing. Helix will restore the lake to full capacity by November.” 

Whether fishing saltwater or freshwater, they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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