BY MERIT MCCREA
SAN DIEGO — While most of the San Diego offshore fleet found the best success searching kelps south of the border for quality yellowtail and biting bluefin tuna edged to within just 2 miles of Oceanside, in less than 100 feet of water.
Capt. David Yumori, skipper of the Chubasco II out of Oceanside SEA Center reported, “Bluefin charged the beach on Monday, giving the Oceanside boats a crack at them. The foamers were chewing as close as 2 miles from the harbor. Capt Ernie reported being on stops as shallow as 14 fathoms. On the Chubasco II, it was complete mayhem on the half-day trip. Undergunned with 20 rent rods, casualties were high but the group of 23 anglers still managed 10 bluefin in the 50- to 70-pound class. They were biting everything: fly-line, sinker rigs, day water temps on the beach dropped 8 degrees and it’s been a struggle since.”
By Sunday, the fraction of the fleet going big on bluefin had centered up in the area near the 277, still just 21 miles off the coast. The Intrepid crew reported, “Very good fishing today on these 60- to 70-pound bluefin!”
In the few days just prior, however, the dominant mode had been bluefin watching, and only the brave few willing to risk the trip on “go big or go home” were out on the bluefin grounds. The majority of the offshore fleet was focused on waters south of Point Loma, as far south as 100 miles, according to Capt Rick Slavkin, owner and skipper of the Oceanside 95 out of Helgren’s Oceanside, but mostly around 75 miles or so.
While the fleet out of San Diego proper was tough to find an opening aboard, the O’95 had a number of weekday open party offerings.
On tap was limit-style bites of 12-to 24-pound yellows, with shots at bluefin, yellowfin and dorado. However, the ‘tail bite all hinged on finding that “lucky kelp.” While most eventually found the right scrap of weed and made it work, there were a few trips that ran nearly dry, never finding the right ball.
It was during the eye-ball straining search that a crewman atop the Ocean Odyssey spotted, not the dream kelp, but a man swimming more than twenty miles off shore. Here’s the report.
“At approximately 3 this afternoon the deckhand that was on the roof spotting for kelps spotted a man in the water. He yells ‘Man Overboard!’ and the crew of Ocean Odyssey goes into action to perform a rescue at sea.
“The 27-year-old man had been free diving from his father’s boat 20 miles off the coast of Mexico and somehow got separated. He had been in the water for over 4 hours and had drifted 3 miles from where he’d entered the water.
“To go with the limits of yellowtail caught today, they saved a life! It was a good day overall.”
On Saturday almost every offshore boat at H&M landing reported full limits on the forktails: “Yellowtail bite continues! The Sea Adventure 80 returned from a 1.5-day trip with 140 yellowtail, 4 dorado and 1 yellowfin tuna! The Producer called in from their overnight trip with 135 yellowtail and 10 dorado! The Excalibur has LIMITS of yellowtail, 1 bluefin, 2 yellowfin and 3 dorado so far for their 1.5-day trip! The Legend also has LIMITS of yellowtail so far for their 1.5-day trip!
The Daiwa Pacific has LIMITS of yellowtail 1 yellowfin and 5 dorado on their overnight!”
Looking back to the bluefin deal, the tackle spread being rec- ommended is the following, ex- cerpted from the Grande’s post on the matter:
A 20- to 30-pound live bait outfit with fluorocarbon and 1/0-2/0 circle hooks. A 40- to 50- pound live bait outfit with fluo- rocarbon and 2/0-3/0 circle hooks, Daiwa Zakana jigs. A 60- to 80-pound sinker rig/heavy jig outfit with various sized tor- pedo sinkers from 4- to 8-ounce, 2/0-3/0 circle hooks and Daiwa SK jigs.
While the bulk of the bluefin success centered on 40- to 70- class fish, there were plenty of hookups on larger fish, however, often they came on just 40- pound class gear, meaning the chances of landing larger fish were slim to none.
The El Capitan, Point Loma Sportfishing, was back from a 2- day Sunday with 18 anglers
boating 32 bluefin up to 138 pounds. The T-bird had 26 fish to 120 pounds.
Out of Fisherman’s Landing, the Tomahawk had 26 to 120 pounds. Capt. Mike Loust said, “We had some good fishing go- ing on today. We finished it off with better fishing in the evening. We wound up with 26 bluefin tuna up to 120 pounds. We had several under 100 and the majority in the 50- pound range. We also put on the boat 2 yellowfin tuna and 12 yellowtail.
“It was a good day on the water, and the fish are biting more during the day and eating some at night. Things seem to be on the upswing now for this tuna.”
Capt. Booger on the San Diego posted, “11 bluefin from 45 to 70 pounds and 1 yellowfin (40 pounds). Pretty typical bluefin day today. We have passengers that fished a lot of baits on quality 40-pound set-ups and hooked 4 trophy fish. We also have people that hooked and fought their trophy for way too long and lost it at color. We also have people that never want to hear the word bluefin again. Come prepared!”
On the other hand, the Aztec’s 25 anglers on a 3-day put 275 yellowtail on deck fishing down below. And 18 aboard the Pacific Voyager totaled 270 ‘tails on their run south.