San Diego Report: Epic fall offshore options

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BY MERIT McCREA

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego skippers again faced a split decision with limit-style fishing within full-day range and a bite out on the outer banks which featured options including mossback yellows, bluefin tuna limits and grade large bluefin to over 300 pounds.

In full-day range were kelp paddy and open water yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, a few dorado – all catchable grade for almost any angler. Scores usually included limits – if not limits of yellowfin, it was yellowtail or skipjack tuna.

“There has been steady action on local waters on yellowfin and yellowtail throughout the week. Both the Malihini (yellowtail) and Grande (yellowfin) had triple digit days,” reported Heather Ferrari at H&M Landing.

To the west on the outer banks, the week began with a day of strong northeast Santa Ana offshore winds, reaching out to well past 100 miles offshore. But that quickly gave way to calm waters for the entire rest of the week.

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347 ON THE SCALE, this bluefin was one of largest aboard the Tomahawk last week. PHOTO COURTESY OF FISHERMAN’S LANDING SPORTFISHING

On the outer banks the action spanned the space between the Tanner and Cortes banks. While the 20 to 50 pounder roamed the waters up on the top to deep edges of the banks, mostly at the Cortes later in the week, huge yellows held over the rocky tops of the bank.

There was the fallback option of behemoth bottom biters too. But the 100-pound plus tuna were just off the edges of the banks and out into open waters.

The rules prevent fishing out there with bottom biters aboard. Few took up the grabber option.

Boats fished the “smaller” grade bluefin on the anchor with fly-lined sardines on 40-pound and lighter. The big boys bit the kite baits with fewer biters on the live bait and if so, usually won that battle due to the lighter tackle involved.

This bite continues to re-set the bar. It’s kind of incredible, but bluefin of less than 100 pounds hardly earn a mention any more.

Those of 100 pounds but less than 200 earn a nod of appreciation, while it takes one of 200 or more to garner that look of envy from other anglers and a 300-plus to earn others helping spread your tale of glory.

Back in the day, landing a 50-pound fish would have made one the talk of the dock.

In addition to the day-time kite rotation, anglers saw success fishing knife and Flat-Fall jigs from dusk to about 10 p.m. Some of the better performers were knife jigs with a heavy single hook on top and a double assist on bottom.

CAPT. MIKE FRANCHAK, Relentless, with a 306 on the scale for a client at H&M Landing. PHOTO COURTESY OF H&M LANDING

The word from Josh Anguianno who fished the New Lo-An and landed 6 of their 29 bigger bluefin was less glow, just a few bands of it on one end worked better.

The 6-pack boats in the fleet like the Game Changer focused on the big fish, targeting them almost exclusively. Their most recent 2.5-day resulted in 14 tuna in the hold for 6 anglers.

Five weighed between 60 and 90 pounds, 5 went 130 to 180 and the final 4 taped over 200 pounds each.

The previous trip put 5 yellowfin on deck. These were mixed in with the larger bluefin and weighed in at 50 to 70 pounds. Their largest bluefin was a 315!

Capt. Jeff Walker on the Tomahawk had one on deck at 347 pounds and 3 more over 200 pounds among the 13 bigger bluefin landed on a 1.5-day.

Gina Cavanaugh posted the Pacific Dawn had 46 bluefin including 6 over 100 pounds with 2 over 200. The Condor had limits for 24 anglers – 48 bluefin.

The Pacifica had 51 bluefin and 29 yellowtail for 29 anglers on a 1.5-day Friday. They’d started on the bank and had a good bite on the smaller grade fish, then moved out to the larger fish where they put a 180 on deck, a pair in the 200-pound class and one which was over the 300-pound mark.

A 245 POUNDER aboard the Pacific Dawn. PHOTO COURTESY OF FISHERMAN’S LANDING SPORTFISHING

The first day of a 2.5-day aboard the Aztec saw 17 anglers land 29 of the larger fish with all getting at least one of 130 pounds or better. The largest was past the 200-pound mark.

As for tackle, bring it all, a full selection from 25- to at least 80-pound class with the heavier outfits featuring braid backed 2-speed reels.

Full-day trips fished the local wide-open school-fish bite on kelps while 1.5-day or longer trips had the option to fish the Tanner and Cortes banks.

Over the weekend it was a parking lot of boats there, with glassy weather and several days of good reports from the same zone with the fish staying put.

KRIS COLLIIN’S TROPHY, a 179-pound bluefin tuna aboard the Relentless. PHOTO COURTESY OF H&M LANDING
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