Long Range Report: Lower banks tuna get skittish

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A LOWER BANKS CATCH landed on the Indy. PHOTO COURTESY OF INDEPENDENCE SPORTFISHING
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Fat wahoo and slug yellowtail pick up slack

BY GUNDY GUNDERSON

SAN DIEGO – The long range fleet turned to scratching on the lower banks after a week of above average fishing. The bites on these big fish are transient at best so you take what you can get and earn the rest. That is exactly what the fleet was committed to this week. The hard work paid off in a catch of trophy yellowfin tuna, most of them a fish of a lifetime. Some big wahoo also breezed the lower banks and big 40- to 50-pound yellowtail took yo-yo jigs fished along the drop-offs.

Intrepid on lower banks

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The Intrepid returned from the Seeker 10-Day Trip with a nice catch of cow tuna. Capt. Bill Cavanaugh was driving the big sportfisher and wrapped up the trip this way, “We returned home from our annual Seeker 10-Day Trip yesterday morning at 0530. We ended up with 8 fish over 200 pounds and one fish landed by Kevin Uyeji that weighed 199.3 pounds. Our jackpot winners are as follows: third place went to Dave Cairncross with a 124.-2 pound yellowfin tuna. Second place went to Don Abbott with a 204.9-pound yellowfin tuna, and first place goes to Eric Nolte with a 265.4- pound yellowfin tuna. Most of the cows landed were not in the jackpot.”

A 240 COW landed by Gary Licht on the Star. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL STAR SPORTFISHING

The boat was right back out departing on the annual Soft Steel 10-Day. The boat made a bee-line down to the lower banks. Cavanaugh sent this first report, “We are out on our Soft Steel sponsored 10-day trip. We fished the lower banks yesterday and landed some nice wahoo. We are currently pulling on two big tuna here this morning for the last hour now. One angler was spooled on 130-pound and we have a back-up rig in the water. We are hoping to get some more opportunities today. There are some big tuna out here.”

Indy on lower banks

The Independence just returned from a successful 10-day that saw a 221, 237, 204 and 196 yellowfin tuna hit the deck. The fish were taken on the lower banks. This trip was an 11-day lower banks/ ridge special with Capt. Brian Pifer at the wheel. The skipper sent this first report from the grounds, “Checked out a different area in the morning hoping for the jackpot but didn’t payoff. Got to the big fish zone around noon and didn’t see much. Got our anchor down and had a few giant yellowtail bite right away. Incredible size yellowtail (40-48 pounds). Weather is choppy again today.”

Another day on the bank and this report, “These big yellowfin tuna are hard to catch but what an incredible sign off fish all day. From sunrise to sunset there were 150- to 300-pound tuna boiling right next to

A BIG LOWER BANKS TROPHY caught aboard the Intrepid. PHOTO COURTESY OF INTREPID SPORTFISHING

the boat keeping us all excited. Had a few heartbreaks on big ones that got away but were able to land one at 203 pounds. Try one more day for a fish of a lifetime.”

Royal Star arrives

The Royal Star arrived on the lower banks with Capt. Tim Ekstrom at the helm. The veteran skipper sent this report after a day and a half, “We had a few shots at the ones we were after but their wits and muscle prevailed leaving us with little to show for our time and effort. Fortunately, a few consolation prize, beautiful grade yellowtail spiced up the day, along with a rogue wahoo, but there is no masking the reality of it. Slow fishing, painfully slow at times, is the current theme.”

As with any hunt for trophy fish, things can turn on a dime, “Classic big fish angling today mixing in a few shots at jumbos, a few mid-sizers, and a few bonus fat yellowtail amidst abundant time at the rail fishing. The old refrain about time at the rail producing results is the go-to in these circumstances. There is nothing else to do. Grind it out, enjoy the sights and sounds, and relish the time offshore in such a beautiful environment.”

A NICE CATCH OF trophy tuna taken from the lower banks on the Intrepid. PHOTO COURTESY OF INTREPID SPORTFISHING

The report continued with a little insight,As always on such occasions, these big bastards are quick to remind anglers of how difficult they are to land, and how quick they are to expose any flaws in the rigging and/or deficiencies in the gear.”

Another bold observation from the veteran captain, “I’ve been at this a long time. I can report with 100% certainty that warm water dwelling, jumbo-class yellowfin over 200 pounds are far more challenging to land once hooked than their blue fined cousins. Knowing that such a comment could elicit much debate, and even bruise the delicate feelings of ardent bluefin busters, I make it anyway.”

LIT-UP ‘HOO landed on the Star. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROYAL STAR SPORTFISHING
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