BY MERIT McCREA
SAN DIEGO/OCEANSIDE — With Christmas season upon us we find the offshore bite still kicking out limits of kelp paddy yellowtail in overnight range. And, west of San Clemente Island, those that went knocked the bluefin as 40- to 70-pound fish made up the bulk of the limit and near limit catches, with fish to over 100 pounds landed as well.
As H&M Landing’s Heater Ferrari reports Capt. Bill Wilkerson, owner of the Malihini, is doing well on extended half-day runs fishing rockfish, game fish counts continued to roll in from offshore as well.
She said, “(Capt.) Bill Wilkerson (owner/operator) had a good trip today with 97 rockfish, 10 red rockfish, 5 whitefish, 1 sculpin, and 1 lingcod. According to Bill – the tackle that has been working – 20- to 30-pound, 8- to 10-ounce torpedo sinkers, double dropper loops, 2/0 hooks.”
H&M’s returns aboard the Old Glory on 1-day overnight trips showed 90 yellows for 19 anglers Saturday following full limits (65) for 13 anglers the trip prior.
Looking to Point Loma Sportfishing, the New Lo-An had a weekend 2-day with 19 anglers landing 52 bluefin tuna and the Game Changer, on a 2.5-day with 6 fishing posted limits, 24 fish, for both days.
Then, at Fisherman’s Landing the Tomahawk called in Sunday with 65 bluefin averaging 40 pounds with a 120-pound topper, on a 2.5-day with 25 fishers.
The Pacific Queen was back in with full limits of bluefin tuna for 34 fishing on a 1.5-day trip. Their fish were mostly from 40 to 70 pounders, but also included a couple over the 100-pound mark.
At Seaforth Landing in Mission Bay the Tribute was back with 45 bluefin for their 30 anglers. Capt. Mike Pritchard called it “an epic bluefin bite.” He posted, “Beautiful grade of fish between 30 and 120 pounds. Pretty cool to see these things almost year round.”
Tackle and technique for the bluefin included fly-lined sardines and sinker rigs with live sardines especially at dawn and dusk. While fly-lining worked best with 40-pound and lighter tackle, limiting the ability to be successful with the larger fish, sinker rigs got bit on heavier line, say 60-pound.
Fishing the Flat-Fall after dark is what it took to hang a big fish on the right tackle to land them, 80-pound plus. Virtually no one tries to tackle 40-pound plus fish with less than a 2-speed reel anymore.
Those Santa Ana winds blowing ashore mean great weather offshore in all but the most extreme cases.
Aboard the full-day boat San Diego Capt. Booger said, “After 6 months of fishing in the deep end it was nice to shut the main engines off and enjoy the world famous Coronado Islands. I have always felt that it takes 3 days or 3 really good boats to give the islands a proper check. Today was day one of putting the puzzle together. One yellowtail, plenty of bonito and rockfish. A 40-pound rod, a few yo-yo jigs and an assortment of torpedo sinkers.”
Fishing local half-day trips meant mostly rockfish gear and fishing the bottom in deeper waters. Those few trips that tried for bass and such ended up with pretty light bags and meager results. The only exceptions were when there were only a handful of anglers aboard to share in those few bass and miscellaneous incidental shallow water bottom biters.
Out of Oceanside SEA Center the Chubasco II saw anglers landing whitefish, sculpin and rockfish, averaging roughly 5 fish per rod.
Helgren’s Sportfishing had their 3/4-day boat Sea Trek out on Saturday and 15 anglers land 61 rockfish including 27 reds, 11 scorpion fish, 9 whitefish and 200 sanddabs.
Your basic double dropper rigs and a 10-ounce torpedo sinker on 30-pound was the coast-wide standard when fishing bottom in deeper waters.