BY MERIT McCREA
SAN DIEGO — Following the fleet was a challenge in recent days as opportunities persisted all over the place. There were wide open dorado from “neck-tie” to “gaffables” including nice ones. Yellowfin tuna ate the paint off the corners of boats trying to find a sardine. This was the kelp paddy fishing down south.
Presumably those big yellows out on the Cortes remained an option, but the cow-town bite gained a new dimension as bluefin of all sizes joined in the fray. There were sectors that remained mostly big fish too.
With both nice conditions and a patch of bumpy weather offshore, this is what Heather Ferrari had gathered from the boat crews and reported.
“Weather started out decent for the week. Thursday the wind picked up, weather stayed choppy through Saturday. Eased up a bit today.
“The yellowfin bite turned on a bit on Thursday and Friday. We were running into football size to 25 pounds or so. The yellowfin they ran into Thursday and Friday was biting on #2 hooks with a 25- to 30-pound set-up. The 80-gram Coltsniper was getting bit as well (per Frank Brenha Jr., captain of the Producer).
“When you hit a school it was on, please make sure you bring extra hooks, clippers (diagonal cutters) or a couple of set-ups for chaos fishing so you have an option to turn to.”
She added, “It was all about running into the right kelp paddy for dorado, it was a frenzy when you found it. Limits fishing by the first or second stop for many on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”
This was echoed by Capt. Rick Slavkin of the Oceanside 95 who said the spread of fish spanned 50 to 80 miles from his dock, offshore in Mexican waters.
He was on the fish all last week posting limit scores on dorado and yellowfin. While many found fish in the areas of some tuna pens, he’d run a bit farther and hit a paddy for limits of yellowfin tuna up to 35 pounds.
After that was done, a second run back upswell to the paddy zone resulted in a wide-open dorado bite and by 10:30 a.m. every angler had a limit of dorado too.
He’d run two mostly rent-rod charters with similar results and limited on dorado plus a mix of other fish the two previous trips. In addition to kelp paddy fish, he’d had a blind jig strike for 100 yellowfin.
He also said the skippies were showing up and with the swarm expected to arrive in coming days – great pullers and poke fish.
He’s got trips out of Oceanside scheduled through October, he said, and his schedule was posted on the Helgren’s Oceanside Sportfishing website.
James McDaniels, owner of the Grande stated larger bluefin are starting to filter into the full day-plus zone.
Ferrari recommended anglers bring multiple set-ups, a 20- to 25-pound, 30- to 40-pound and 50- to 60-pound and added bluefin are notoriously line shy, and to bring matching fluorocarbon for each and hooks from no.2 to 3/0, both circle and J hooks work.
As for the bluefin bite, those fish were in an arc from south of San Clemente Island, up the back side and off the west end too.
The grade of fish that was out on the Tanner Bank had joined forces with those bigger fish and so it was all mixed together in some areas.
In a new development a couple of boats in the fleet got into some solid Flat-fall bites in the dark on the nicer grade bluefin. Having a heavier stick and iron was well advised.
Angler Cody Taylor landed a 130 pounder on the glow iron aboard the Top Gun 80 Wednesday.
Looking at the numbers, there were too many dorado limits scores to count and plenty of yellowfin tuna catches nearing and exceeding the century mark too. Several posted limits of both yellowfin and dorado, like the T-Bird Saturday, the Apollo for both days of a 2-day, the Tribute and the Producer.
For whatever reason, after a hard bite all week, Sunday was an off day with many in the fleet reporting more modest catches offshore.
As for bluefin the American Angler limited Thursday with 23 anglers. The New Lo-An limited on blues for 26 anglers, landing 52 including 3 fish over 100 pounds with a 120 and a 150.
For local anglers the bonito were in, and there were some big bass scores too on the 1/2-day.
The Pronto and Chubasco II had them up in Oceanside with limits aboard the Pronto Saturday.
The Premier had 88 on their morning run from H&M Landing Saturday.
On the bass, Friday produced over 170 keepers for anglers aboard the New Seaforth, between both the runs.