BY MERIT McCREA
SAN PEDRO/LONG BEACH — Barracuda scores for local party boat anglers went through the roof, with 200-plus fish per trip at times this past week. Most 3/4- and half-day trips pulled big numbers of sculpin, approaching full limits, 60 or more on the skinnies, and had good numbers of keeper bass too. In addition, schools of breaking bluefin came far enough north to draw attention and a few were caught too. Jig slinger and Izorline pro-staffer Norm Rodriguez took his dad out on the Native Sun to do some 3/4-day iron fishing for barries and ended up landing an 82-pound bluefin on the surface plug!
Thursday that boat put 243 barracuda on deck along with 51 bonito and 25 bass. The barrie bite was so solid, even the steadfastly island-bound Pursuit put in some local banks time on the bite, hooking up 150 and a handful of sand bass before moving on.
Barracuda had been mostly in the area of the Horseshoe Kelp, but by late in the week there were fish all over, including between the moored tankers and freighters — anywhere that held bait in waters less than 120 feet or so.
Sunday the Enterprise had over 200 barracuda, over 100 suclpin and a mix of other stuff, bass included. On Wednesday that boat had paired 142 barracuda and 20 bass with a shot at bluefin tuna, landing one.
At Long Beach Sportfishing, Steve Phelps reported, “Another excellent week of fishing for our fleet, with barracuda, white seabass, bass, yellowtail, bottomfish and even a couple shots at the bluefin that made their way into our local waters. The 3/4-day boat Victory was one of the boats on the scene when the bluefin popped up at the beginning of the week, and the guys were just not ready. Captain Phil saw fish from 30 pounds up to 200 and put his anglers on a school of hungry ones… 3 or 4 guys got completely spooled, and the rest of the fish hooked eventually broke off. The rest of the days fish were spotted, but just were not in the feeding mood, and thankfully, the barracuda and bass have been cooperating, as we are seeing the best local fishing that we have had in many years. Captain George had an excellent day on Monday, posting up 199 barracuda, 76 calico bass, 31 sand bass, 175 sculpin (limits) and 5 whitefish.”
Outer island fishing served up some good seabass numbers, and while the fleet was coy about location it appeared warmer waters at San Nicolas had spurred some gamefish into action. “Captain Jeff Villapando aboard the overnight boat Eldorado has been on fire this week fishing the outer islands. His top day this week was 14 big white seabass up to 50 pounds, 13 yellowtail up to 35 pounds and excellent bottom fishing for big vermilion and sheephead.”
But that wasn’t the only place to provide opportunities for the big croaker. “The 6-pack charter boat MarDiosa fished an overnight trip with 6 anglers and 2 crew. Captain Herman Dorado checked in with 24 white seabass (limits) and 1 yellowtail!”
The Amigo also put up a big 1-day overnight score, with 14 anglers getting limits of reds, 30 seabass, 3 yellowtail, 20 calico, 5 barracuda and some other rockfish and bottom biter variety pack. The Toronado, Pierpoint Landing’s overnight boat, put a few seabass on board every trip out first thing in the morning, adding yellowtail throughout the day, plus an assortment of bag fillers.
The 6-pack boat Options loaded anglers up on halibut this past weekend. Owner Bill Waddle said they’d had a pair of fantastic 2-day trips in a row, with, “… phenomenal fishing at multiple islands.” Brett Burkey of Santa Barbara nailed a 37-pound yellowtail on one of them.
L.A. Waterfront had the Triton fishing Friday with a family group. Fly-lined live baits picked away at calico bass and barracuda, and resulted in a 28-pound yellowtail on deck too.
The Sport King turned in 110 barracuda, 8 bonito, 10 whitefish and 35 calico bass for 18 anglers. It appeared the squid nests at Catalina Island between Ben Weston and the East End picked up a bit of steam too, enough for even some seiner traffic to come.