Bluefin tuna arrive in range of San Diego

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BLUEFIN on the Pacific Dawn – a 70 pounder on the knife at night. All anglers loaded up on reds, adding other rockfish, too.
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BY MERIT McCREA

The reports this past week kicked off over the weekend with bluefin tuna spotted and caught just below the border by the boats headed down to Colonet. In addition, rumors were flying about fish even in U.S. waters as seen by spotter pilots

The Pacific Dawn was headed south toward Colonet Friday night when a spot of tuna was seen on the electronics, resulting in a 70 pounder dead on deck on a knife jig. Daylight hours saw the 16 anglers load up on rockfish, only to return to the scene, find a few more tuna ending up with 6 for the trip.

Thursday night Capt. Chuck Taft was guest on Rod and Reel Radio when he noted the tuna were already spotted on the Cortes and Tanner banks.

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Other boats making the run south over the weekend saw excellent fishing on the bottom loading up on reds and other rockfish and putting up some good numbers of lingcod. Saturday afternoon the yellowtail made the scene with the anglers on the Old Glory eventually landing 13 on the yo-yo

Other bluefin rumors had fish spotted both inside and outside San Clemente Island, just south of the border in 1-day range, more tuna right on the line just inshore of the Dumper.

Truth or dare, the one thing that was for sure, is there are boats going on line to get after tuna, wherever they may pop up best.

The San Diego local ½-day boats were also the scene of the best sand bass bite, a couple of runs boating limits, with many besting 60 keepers per run. Highlights included the Dolphin with limits of sand bass Sunday – 145 for 27 anglers turned in. This plastic and leadhead bite was solid through the past two weeks, and even improving over the weekend.

In Orange County anglers fishing ¾-day out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing saw some excellent sculpin bites plus ½-day anglers seemed to have a choice of bagging some whitefish or fishing calicos in shallow, mostly catch and release on the bass, but scores topping 90 calico on a run.

Capt. Brian Woolley noted, “still seeing good bass action on the live sardines. Carolina rigs with the sliding egg sinkers were a perfect call this week as the bass were mid water over the hard bottom and kelp areas. A few halibut this week in those same zones. Smaller fish but definitely saw a few more of those in our counts this week. I know a lot of our regular 1/2 day anglers are looking forward to keeping sheephead at the end of the week here too with that opening up.”

As for the ¾-day sculpin fishing it’s been in the deeper water, past 200 feet, down coast.

Out of Newport Bay local action was on tap and resulted in lots of whitefish landed.

Turning to the Long Beach and San Pedro area, the halibut fishing has been better than in many years, with the Native Sun on a local ¾-day run, sometimes getting into double digits on the big flatfish. Sunday they had 16.

Fishing local waters aboard a private boat, Izorline National Sales Manager Wendy Tochihara caught 2 of 3 nice halibut the three anglers aboard landed in local waters Saturday morning.

Fishing Island destinations the Pride limited on Calico Saturday on a 1.5 dayer with 11 anglers. They also scoed 14 keeper halibut, releasing 21 shorts.

Capt. John Woodrum said they’re taking kids free on ½-day aboard the Monte Carlo, with each paid adult, including weekends.

If you’re looking for the sanddab boat the Ahra Ahn out of Long Beach Sportfishing was your rig, over 3,000 dabs for 20 anglers Friday.

Landing Manager Steve Phelps noted the rest of his boats will start up on March 1, with the Victory crew running a month-long sheephead derby in March.

L.A. Waterfront’s 3 boats focused on some excellent lobster netting each night, and getting some fishing in on island runs. The Triton had 100 whitefish (limits) and 54 keeper lobster for 10 anglers Saturday night.

Around the corner in Santa Monica Bay the quarry was a mixed bag of sculpin and whitefish, with lead-head and squid producing some nice sand bass as well as taking sculpin. The numbers were solid –- over 3 per rod to limits averages on ½-day, and 5-fish limits on ¾-day. About a week ago 40 anglers had 200 sculpin and 47 keeper bass on a ½-day run aboard the New Del Mar.

Saturday the Spitfire ¾-day had 220 and 20 keeper bass for 44 anglers. Hoopneting lobster in this bay was highly productive.

Out of Ventura Harbor Sportfishing the crew of the Island Spirit took the boat out for a crew trip and found the local bass chewing hard.

The fishing highlight out of Channel Islands Harbor was the skinny-water calico bass and halibut bite over at the east end of Santa Cruz Island. The Aloha Spirit had 15 keepers for 16 anglers one day last week. If you try for then whitefish limits were almost guaranteed and they had 180 razor-gills for 18 anglers Sunday.

Morro Bay halibut fishing was excellent as well, with most of the catch coming from small-scale commercial fishermen.

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