BY MERIT MCCREA
SAN DIEGO — By the end of the weekend the fleet fishing bluefin was just 30 miles from Point Loma. With and abundance of fish in the area, from 20 pounders on up to 200 pounders, it was all about getting them to bite and hang with the boat. If it happened, steady new biters kept the boat stopped and fished stacked up on deck. But on the other hand, there could be a lot of effort and time spent finding the next school, stopping and having it blow out from under the boat, then looking some more.
The 100-plus-pound class fish tended to bite the iron in the dark again. The words of advice from crews were: pace yourself and take a break during day light hours if you get the chance so you’re not wiped out for the night bite on the heavy gear. Bring the heavy tackle but also what has become “light tackle,” 30-pound stuff. Medium is 50 or 60, and heavy is 80, 100, 130.
So it’s fishing in full-day range with a long range quiver and outlook. While one could be in the zone on a full-day trip and maybe get lucky in finding the right school, the better bet was at least a 1.5-day offering a chance in the morning and evening night bites.
Better yet, an even longer 2.5-day trip and committing to cat-nap between stops — otherwise you’ll never last, you just won’t make it in any shape to be ready at the rail when the time comes.
The counts were all over the board, boat limits including half 100-pound and better brutes to a just a handful monsters on deck including fish in excess of 200 pounds.
The bite was best over the weekend and highlights included the Sea Adventure 80 with 27 bluefin Sunday. The Excalibur had 40 and the Legend returned with 31 tuna to 180 pounds.
Wednesday all anglers on the Legend limited with 40 for 20 anglers. On Monday the Top Gun 80 was back with 50 bluefin, and 25 were triple-digit fish — 100 pounds-plus.
The American Angler was on a multi-day headed down the coast when weather and bite reports from down below prompted a u-turn back to local waters. Their report the following morning was, “We had tremendous opportunity on 100- to 190-pound class bluefin last night. It was the bite of a lifetime and we are hoping to experience it one more time before it’s all said and done.”
With 16 fish in the New Lo-n’s hold, 14 weighed between 120 and 200 pounds. The T-Bird had 24 up to 185 pounds. The trip prior, their 21 anglers limited with 42.
The Tomahawk had fish to 180 pounds and the Pacific Queen’s 34 folks all limited out with 68 fish in the hold and 13 in excess of 100 pounds.
On the Pacifica, 14 of 24 fish landed bested the 100- pound mark, including one at 205 pounds.The week had started with the Polaris Supreme with 24 anglers on a 3-day decking 135 bluefin. The Oceanside 95 from Helgren’s was also running trips offshore into the zone.
As for terminal tackle, a lot of the success was on the iron, shiny Flat-Falls and ‘snipers in daylight hours, large glow Flat-Falls and knife jigs in the dark. Also in the running was live bait — sardines rigged to fish deep with a 6- or 8-ounce torpedo sinkers rubber banded on.
While it’s become popular to rig these sinkers in-line so the line is held tight to the sinker’s eyes top and bottom, crews are starting to recommend letting the sinker swing, attached in such a way it falls free if a fish shakes it hard enough rather than providing a mass that might help dislodge the hook.
Also, it’s highly recommended to remove the stock hooks from the Flat-Fall-type jigs and replace them with several heavier hooks on more substantial cord, or attached with rings and swivels. A big single at the bottom and a pair of assist hooks from the top works well, too.
The local half-day fishing saw continued improvement in the bass bite, the Dolphin with well over 100 keepers for the day Saturday.
Out of Oceanside, rockfish and whitefish provided the better opportunities, with the Southern Cal, Pronto and Sea Star all reporting catches near 5 fish per angler.