Bluefin bite remains incredibly close to port

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A COW BLUEFIN on the Sea Adventure 80. PHOTO COURTESY OF SEA ADVENTURE 80
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BY MERIT McCREA

OCEANSIDE/SAN DIEGO — An interview with Capt. Rick Slavkin, owner of the Oceanside 95, revealed spots of bluefin remained not only in the areas most targeted by the San Diego fleet, but all along the coast, some within just 3 to 10 miles off Oceanside.

There was a point when most of the fleet — from the overnight boats to long rangers — were fishing just 16 miles southwest of O’side. But the core of the area wandered from day to day, drifting south Wednesday evening and settling for the past few days just 16 miles due west of Mission Bay. Slavkin said most of the fish were in a strip stretching from off Oceanside south to offshore of the Coronado Islands. At the same time, there were additional areas with schools up and foaming, just a couple of miles shoreward of the east end of San Clemente Island, some on the outer banks now, though results there were “mixed,” between the inner and outer islands and at least as far north into the Bight as between Catalina and Santa Barbara Island.

While it was not difficult to find an area with at least a few spots of breaking fish, what took some good fortune was getting the fish to stick with the boat and bite. But it did happen.

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What successful anglers found were fish mostly in the 40- to 70-pound class, more willing to chew baits on gear too light for sustained success. That success depended on fishing 40-pound or more despite fish mostly unwilling to commit on it. But when a bunch did, anglers had a chance for victory rather than heartbreak.

Then there were fish in the mix well into triple-digit territory, most often 120 pounds or so, but some to 200 as we’ve been seeing. In order to land these it’s been mostly nighttime fishing on heavy tackle, either deep dropped sinker rigged baits or the glow iron — Flat-Falls and knife jigs like the SK. Regardless, there was always a great exciting show to witness, spots of big fish up and crashing on the surface.

There were a couple of good kelp paddy scores on nice grade 12- to 20-pound yellowtail later in the week. Mixed in with bluefin were increasingly a few yellowfin tuna too and the first dorado of the season.

Surface temps touched 72 degrees all the way north past Catalina Island and clear into the coast. Local half-day trips also saw great fishing for limit-style sand bass on some southern sector outings, calicos and barracuda along the Point Loma/La Jolla zone.

The Coronados kicked out some decent yellowtail scores coupled with plenty of other stuff, barracuda, nearly limits of calico bass, and a shot at bluefin tuna too.

Slavkin said Electra had more than 80 calico on deck on a weekend local trip. And with the keeper to go-back ratio as it is, there had to be a whole lot of catching going on – like a bite on every bait. As for his boat, he’s on 1.5-day and overnight trips fishing big game offshore. Tackle tips for offshore continued to stress the importance of having heavy tackle at hand, at least 80-pound as one’s biggest set-up.

Out on the water on a private boat for a twilight try, this writer witnessed acreage of boiling bluefin in just a couple hours before darkness fell.

Here are a few highlights from the past week. Locally, the Daily Double did 124 sand bass on Saturday’s a.m. half-day run and limits several other runs during the week. The Premier had sand bass limits on several of their half-day runs and put on over 250 between both Wednesday runs.

A twilight run aboard the New Seaforth netted 150 barracuda, a pair of yellows and 33 calico for 21 fishers. Out at the Islands, the Point Loma with 18 fishing put on 68 calico, 42 barracuda, a bluefin and a pair of yellows.

Monday the Mission Belle with 10 fishing put on 25 calico, 20 bluefin for limits, 12 yellowtail and 5 barracuda. The San Diego turned in 64 barracuda, 39 calico bass, 5 yellowtail and 16 bluefin for 21 anglers on Saturday. The New Lo-An had 25 anglers on a 1.5-day land 48 bluefin.

YOUNG RICKY’S BIG BLUEFIN TUNA – Ricky Chan pulled hard on this nice tuna, showing skills of a veteran angler. The catch was made aboard the sportfisher Tomahawk fishing just below Coronado’s South Island. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

The Producer found the lucky kelp and limited on yellowtail – 125 for 25 plus 4 bluefin. The Daiwa Pacific also limited on the yellows and added a pair of yellowfin tuna and a pair of bluefin, plus 24 bonito.

The Excalibur boated 31 bluefin on a 1.5-day and the Legend had 31 on 2-day as of Sunday morning with the afternoon and night still to go. The trip prior had resulted in 105 bluefin and a yellowfin for 27 anglers on a 1.75-day run, with the largest topping 140 pounds.

Friday the Top Gun 80 pulled in from a 3.5-day with 98 bluefin in the hold.
Sunday the Pacific Dawn had just a few tuna on deck but they were topped by a 180 pounder. A 3-dayer aboard the Pegasus was just back with 15 anglers landing 152 bluefin, 16 of which were the 125- to 195-pound models.

The Pacific Queen posted limits of bluefin plus a yellowfin for 15 folks on an overnight charter. One of the week’s best bluefin counts aboard a full-
day run with a bunch of anglers was 66 bluefish and a yellowfin for 40 folks.
Wednesday the Pacifica turned in bluefin limits (58) for 29 anglers on a 1.5-day.

The mostly local trips out of the Oceanside SEA Center saw lots of surface action, mostly catch and release. A couple of 3/4-day runs fishing the so local spots of bluefin aboard the Pronto and Chubasco II each got a tuna or two.

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