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Bluefin are back – Dolphin scores on San Diego Bay – halibut, and corvina too

Turn in Your White Seabass Heads – Birds are Angler’s Friends

(left) The boys are back in town! Angler Bob Tressler with a nice school-sized bluefin caught while fishing aboard the Independence.
(right) A second option. When the bluefin are near a good rockfish spot, sometimes it pays to drop deep for some taco meat, as exampled by this fine lingcod caught while fishing aboard the Tribute on a bluefin trip.
(left) The boys are back in town! Angler Bob Tressler with a nice school-sized bluefin caught while fishing aboard the Independence.
(right) A second option. When the bluefin are near a good rockfish spot, sometimes it pays to drop deep for some taco meat, as exampled by this fine lingcod caught while fishing aboard the Tribute on a bluefin trip.

Dock Totals 4/14 – 4/20: 976 anglers aboard 42 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 1 barracuda, 3 bluefin tuna, 27 bocaccio, 61 bonito, 7 calico bass, 20 halibut, 11 lingcod, 5129 rockfish, 3 rock sole, 9 sand bass, 20 sanddab, 97 sculpin, 17 sheephead, 173 whitefish, and 7 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Though only 3 bluefin made it into the official counts for the 1 to 3-day range boats, there were more caught by the mid-range boats within 1.5-day range of Point Loma. The Independence and American Angler had some decent stops, and though the hook-to-land ratio was not great, the boats scored on a couple dozen fish in the 30-50-pound range. These aren’t the big bruisers we’ve come to expect, though the 100 to over 200-pound fish are out there. More schools were also metered that just did not want to bite, but so far, all signs are good for the action to pick up soon. Last year, we didn’t even get into them until April, so the early bite this past March was a bit of an anomaly, especially with a few yellowfin tuna in the counts as we had. 

Good signs of spring fishing are developing, with large flocks of pelicans working bait inside along the coast. Some of what they are feeding on might be grunion staging for runs, though there are anchovies and sardines off northern Baja and California. Beachgoers at La Jolla were entertained by feeding pelicans in the hundreds, circling and diving as they do. It is an amazing thing to watch, the birds so thick that one must wonder how they can avoid collisions when so tight packed as they were. Later in the spring, as the bait spreads out along the coast and offshore, the pelicans will separate into the smaller squadrons of a few to maybe a couple dozen birds. Brown pelicans are the only of the seven species of pelican that dive from high above to feed, crashing into the fray with their massive bills wide open then bobbing up to the surface with a gullet full of water and baitfish.

We anglers do get excited when we see birds working as it is a sign of predator fish pushing the bait to the surface where they are trapped between the fish below and birds from above feeding on them. That said, casting into the baitball during such action is not advisable when the birds are thick due to having to deal with a hooked or tangled pelican, gull, or cormorant. Of the three, pelicans are the hardest to reel in but the easiest to safely handle to clear the line or hook. Their large bill can inflict a bite, but by grabbing the easily handled bill and gathering the wings so as to not hurt them, they tend to become passive. 

Once the tangle is cleared, just toss the bird softly away and they will fly off to return to their feeding. With cormorants and gulls, it is harder to control their heads and one might receive a peck, but the most important thing is to remove all line and hook. Most birds will not get hooked but will tangle while they are flying as the line tends to get caught up between their feathers then wrap the wing as they flap. Cormorants will sometimes take a fly-lined bait that is swimming, but typically, with their hard beaks a hook will often bounce off before it can set. Either way, always, always free any tangled bird of all line or any hooks. Or better yet, just do not cast into working birds. Fish will be around the action outside of the main commotion, so it is not necessary to cast into the middle of it whether fishing from the beach or boat. Birds are the angler’s friend, often mirroring in the sky what lurks below the surface and pointing the way to the gamefish we seek.

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Yellowtail action continues to be hot, but still well south along the high spots off Ensenada down to San Quintin. That they are inside more and most boats outside looking for bluefin, this is to be expected, though if the tuna continue to be picky, more boats will head inside for the jacks. Rockfish has been excellent, filling in the gaps and providing lots of meat for anglers even as a secondary target for boats hunting the elusive bluefin. 

The halibut bite in the bay has been excellent as well. The Dolphin fished inside on Wednesday for their weekly halibut derby and reported 40 caught, with 20 of them being legal size over 22-inches. They also reported 25 shortfin corvina caught during that outing, which is a rare catch on a party boat, but do inhabit the bay along rocky edges near sand flats. The best lures for them are crankbaits in the upper water column, so catching a good number on a halibut trip where the focus is more toward the bottom is odd. Still, good to know they are inside and feeding for the shore-pounders working along the riprap around the bay.

As spring is in full force, it won’t be long before we start seeing some white seabass in the counts, especially to the north and off Catalina when squid begin showing. Here in San Diego, we see them most often caught off the deeper kelp edges along La Jolla. Just a reminder for those who catch and keep any legal sized white seabass, the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is still collecting heads to better understand the seabass population and the impact of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program. Without that program, we would have no white seabass, they were pretty much fished out along our coast by the 1980s and did not return until after the hatchery began releasing fish. 

The Hubbs folks have freezers with bags and labels at landings from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and there are two conditions for donating: The head must come from a legal-sized (28" or larger) white seabass caught in US waters, and the head must be bagged and labeled with your name, phone number, date and location of catch. The two locations in San Diego are at Dana Landing in Mission Bay and at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute at 2595 Ingraham St. Since its inception in 1983, the California Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program has released more than 2.7 million white seabass back into the wild to replenish the depleted natural stocks. Much of their work relies on the angling community, so please donate your white seabass heads.

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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(left) The boys are back in town! Angler Bob Tressler with a nice school-sized bluefin caught while fishing aboard the Independence.
(right) A second option. When the bluefin are near a good rockfish spot, sometimes it pays to drop deep for some taco meat, as exampled by this fine lingcod caught while fishing aboard the Tribute on a bluefin trip.
(left) The boys are back in town! Angler Bob Tressler with a nice school-sized bluefin caught while fishing aboard the Independence.
(right) A second option. When the bluefin are near a good rockfish spot, sometimes it pays to drop deep for some taco meat, as exampled by this fine lingcod caught while fishing aboard the Tribute on a bluefin trip.

Dock Totals 4/14 – 4/20: 976 anglers aboard 42 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 1 barracuda, 3 bluefin tuna, 27 bocaccio, 61 bonito, 7 calico bass, 20 halibut, 11 lingcod, 5129 rockfish, 3 rock sole, 9 sand bass, 20 sanddab, 97 sculpin, 17 sheephead, 173 whitefish, and 7 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Though only 3 bluefin made it into the official counts for the 1 to 3-day range boats, there were more caught by the mid-range boats within 1.5-day range of Point Loma. The Independence and American Angler had some decent stops, and though the hook-to-land ratio was not great, the boats scored on a couple dozen fish in the 30-50-pound range. These aren’t the big bruisers we’ve come to expect, though the 100 to over 200-pound fish are out there. More schools were also metered that just did not want to bite, but so far, all signs are good for the action to pick up soon. Last year, we didn’t even get into them until April, so the early bite this past March was a bit of an anomaly, especially with a few yellowfin tuna in the counts as we had. 

Good signs of spring fishing are developing, with large flocks of pelicans working bait inside along the coast. Some of what they are feeding on might be grunion staging for runs, though there are anchovies and sardines off northern Baja and California. Beachgoers at La Jolla were entertained by feeding pelicans in the hundreds, circling and diving as they do. It is an amazing thing to watch, the birds so thick that one must wonder how they can avoid collisions when so tight packed as they were. Later in the spring, as the bait spreads out along the coast and offshore, the pelicans will separate into the smaller squadrons of a few to maybe a couple dozen birds. Brown pelicans are the only of the seven species of pelican that dive from high above to feed, crashing into the fray with their massive bills wide open then bobbing up to the surface with a gullet full of water and baitfish.

We anglers do get excited when we see birds working as it is a sign of predator fish pushing the bait to the surface where they are trapped between the fish below and birds from above feeding on them. That said, casting into the baitball during such action is not advisable when the birds are thick due to having to deal with a hooked or tangled pelican, gull, or cormorant. Of the three, pelicans are the hardest to reel in but the easiest to safely handle to clear the line or hook. Their large bill can inflict a bite, but by grabbing the easily handled bill and gathering the wings so as to not hurt them, they tend to become passive. 

Once the tangle is cleared, just toss the bird softly away and they will fly off to return to their feeding. With cormorants and gulls, it is harder to control their heads and one might receive a peck, but the most important thing is to remove all line and hook. Most birds will not get hooked but will tangle while they are flying as the line tends to get caught up between their feathers then wrap the wing as they flap. Cormorants will sometimes take a fly-lined bait that is swimming, but typically, with their hard beaks a hook will often bounce off before it can set. Either way, always, always free any tangled bird of all line or any hooks. Or better yet, just do not cast into working birds. Fish will be around the action outside of the main commotion, so it is not necessary to cast into the middle of it whether fishing from the beach or boat. Birds are the angler’s friend, often mirroring in the sky what lurks below the surface and pointing the way to the gamefish we seek.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Yellowtail action continues to be hot, but still well south along the high spots off Ensenada down to San Quintin. That they are inside more and most boats outside looking for bluefin, this is to be expected, though if the tuna continue to be picky, more boats will head inside for the jacks. Rockfish has been excellent, filling in the gaps and providing lots of meat for anglers even as a secondary target for boats hunting the elusive bluefin. 

The halibut bite in the bay has been excellent as well. The Dolphin fished inside on Wednesday for their weekly halibut derby and reported 40 caught, with 20 of them being legal size over 22-inches. They also reported 25 shortfin corvina caught during that outing, which is a rare catch on a party boat, but do inhabit the bay along rocky edges near sand flats. The best lures for them are crankbaits in the upper water column, so catching a good number on a halibut trip where the focus is more toward the bottom is odd. Still, good to know they are inside and feeding for the shore-pounders working along the riprap around the bay.

As spring is in full force, it won’t be long before we start seeing some white seabass in the counts, especially to the north and off Catalina when squid begin showing. Here in San Diego, we see them most often caught off the deeper kelp edges along La Jolla. Just a reminder for those who catch and keep any legal sized white seabass, the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is still collecting heads to better understand the seabass population and the impact of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program. Without that program, we would have no white seabass, they were pretty much fished out along our coast by the 1980s and did not return until after the hatchery began releasing fish. 

The Hubbs folks have freezers with bags and labels at landings from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and there are two conditions for donating: The head must come from a legal-sized (28" or larger) white seabass caught in US waters, and the head must be bagged and labeled with your name, phone number, date and location of catch. The two locations in San Diego are at Dana Landing in Mission Bay and at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute at 2595 Ingraham St. Since its inception in 1983, the California Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program has released more than 2.7 million white seabass back into the wild to replenish the depleted natural stocks. Much of their work relies on the angling community, so please donate your white seabass heads.

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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