‘Bluefin Mania’ starts early on the Central Coast of California

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FIRST BLOOD – Captain Ross Corbett of Pacific Angler Sport Fishing with his son, Jack, and the first bluefin of the season at 180 pounds out of San Francisco Bay, igniting ‘Bluefin Mania’
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BY DAVE HURLEY

 SAN FRANCISCO – Nothing gets northern California anglers to lose their minds more than bluefin tuna, and after a strong showing from Monterey to Shelter Cove in 2022, ‘bluefin mania’ has started once again. With the salmon season closed, more and more private and party boats are planning to target bluefin on a more consistent basis this year, and just as he did by igniting the bay halibut season in February, Captain Ross Corbett of Pacific Angler Sport Fishing out of Alameda struck first blood this year on Saturday, July 1. Trolling Nomad Design’s Madmacs over the continental shelf seaward of the Farallon Islands, they hooked their first tuna within 15 minutes, and after a 45-minute fight, gaffs were hauling the 180-pound bluefin over the rail. They had another fish on, but it came unbuttoned after a 5-minute fight. Corbett said, “The weather was right, and we decided to take a ride to see if we could get things started. We didn’t see any breezers or jumpers, but there were a few albatrosses flying overhead so we decided to put them in. My son, Jack, just flew out from Germany, and I had something special for him. Behind the main Farallon Island, we hooked into the big fish, and it tore through three of us before finally coming to the boat. Our 80-100 Nalu Series Rods by Forrest Mackey of Stubborn Rods are made for this type of action, and they are phenomenal when it comes to fighting big tuna. We run 100-pound braid with a top shot of 200-pound fluorocarbon. Having the right gear is essential.’

Perhaps it is climate change, or perhaps the bluefin have always frequented northern California waters, but the big difference is the amount of preparation and use of tackle equipped to deal with a 180-pound tuna. This has been the most remarkable development within the past few years.

As if a light switch went on, six-pack operators are starting to book bluefin trips while tackle shops are loading up on heavy rods and reels along with Nomad Design’s Madmacs lures. Tackle sales of heavy gear hit an all-time high last year, and gauging by the amount of buzz that a single fish can generate, 2023 may eclipse last year’s success. Captain Trent Slate of Bite Me Charters called in Sunday morning to report private boater, Ryan Jones, just landed a 170-pound bluefin trolling Madmacs at 10 knots near the Half Moon Bay Weather Buoy on his 17-foot Boston Whaler. The mania has been unleashed.

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Captain James Smith of the California Dawn 2 out of Berkeley is looking for another adaptation to tuna fishing – night fishing with live bait or iron similar to common usage in southern California. Up until now, northern California boats have primarily been trolling the Nomad’s at up to 15 knots or slow-trolling mackerel. Smith has outfitted his 55-foot catamaran to comfortable fish at night with live bait, increasing the chances for landing multiple fish per trip. He plans to schedule bluefin trips in August.

 

Much to the delight of saltwater anglers, six-pack operators, and tackle shops, the mania has officially started,

 

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