BY MERIT McCREA
SAN DIEGO — As the school-sized yellowfin moved back into full-day range of the San Diego fleet, the alternate resource was bluefin out on the outer banks with the giants in the deep waters between the outer islands. It’s here a private boat crew of the sportfisher Potesta put the first sport-caught bluefin over 400 pounds on deck – at 412.8 pounds on the Avalon scale. Look in these pages for the full story.
But that wasn’t all. In addition to this mega-cow, boats in the San Diego fleet landed multiple fish over 300 and many more besting the 200 pound mark, tuning the page in the history books of the future.
Out on the Tanner Bank itself there were catches made on what are now considered smaller grade bluefin of 30 to 50 pounds, fly-lining sardines, and sinker rigs and Flat-Fall jigs. Several full limit scores were punched in.
The crew aboard the Sea Adventure 80 was recommending for tackle, 40-pound fluorocarbon leaders with 2/0 ringed circle hooks, Spectra backed 2-speed reels for the sardine fly-lining for these fish.
For nighttime fishing and a shot at the big boys, a frozen giant squid like used for swords on deep drop, a 12-ounce torpedo to take it down to depth. Or the Flat-fall on a much heavier setup.
The giants being landed on daytime gear all seemed to come on the flying fish rigs that have set the standard. These are run by experienced crews flying the balloon backed fishing kite, dangled down from the heavens into the frothing fish on 200-pound leaders and 130-pound braid on 50 sized 2-speed reels.
Anglers expected to draw straws for the order on kite hooked fish, but the reality was most of the giants took tag teaming to tame – passing the rod between several anglers during the battle.
Where this level of angling was over the top for groups with less experienced anglers and those lacking the fortitude to fish for just a chance at a monster rather than the wilder rail-running fun of wide-open bites on smaller quarry one could land unassisted in a matter of minutes and go back in for a second or third, there was the often wide-open bite just below the border on those yellowfin, skipjack and dorado.
The Ocean Odyssey fished this bite, returning from a 2.5-day trip with flat limits of yellowfin for 25 – that’s 250 of them, and limits of dorado for both days too or 100 mahi. They also undoubtedly released many skipjack along the way too.
Some slammed yellowtail instead, like the 30 aboard the Old Glory on an overnighter, with 150 forks for limits, 15 dorado, 12 yellowfin, several coastal and oceanic bonito too.
An overnighter aboard the Daiwa Pacific put 11 anglers on limits of yellowfin. So did a 1.5-day on the Legend with 30 putting 150 yellowfin, 115 skipjack tuna and 15 yellows with 8 dorado in the hold too.
A full-day on the Point Loma Sunday also limited out on yellowfin, plus those 12 anglers added 19 yellowtail and 9 dorado. The Friday before also saw that boat and crew put limits of 80 yellowfin for 16 on deck along with 70 other fish.
The Pacifica, Tribute, and Aztec also posted boat limits of yellowfin plus lots of others, on overnight trips. The full-day boat San Diego put their 34 anglers on 348 fish with 170 yellowfin for limits.
With the 40-pound bluefin in the mix on the outer banks there were several trips posting bluefin limits. The Pacifica put 17 anglers on 34 bluefin plus 27 yellowtail and 3 yellowfin tuna, but those yellowfin in U.S. waters with the bluefin tuna were of a nicer grade – 50 to 70 pounds.
The Endeavor’s 18 fishers had 5 of them to go with their 36 bluefin (limits) on a 1.5-day. Another U.S. waters run aboard the Pacifica saw 30 get 60 bluefin.
The Islander posted 30 bluefin for 15 fishing. The Pacific Queen was on the board Friday with bluefin limits for 34 anglers.
The New Lo-An posted 2-day bluefin limits for 13 anglers at 52 fish, plus one of those nicer yellowfin too. Aboard the Constitution’s 3 dayer 15 anglers put 90 bluefin aboard for 3 day’s limits.
Then there were those looking to land the giants. Aboard the Pacific Islander’s 2.5-day they’d landed just 20 bluefin, but 9 were between 140 and 280 pounds!
Ray Lopez aboard the American Angler reported “incredible opportunity at the big ones” with 14 landed for the day including 5 over 200 pounds, from 209 to 248 pounds, and a super cow at 370 pounds credited to Tennessee green bass angler Tim Messer.
The Pacific Dawn fished the giants on a 2-day and landed 17 from 90 to 223 pounds. An earlier outing saw them land a 328 and a 329 with Capt. Mike Nickerson at the helm.
Capt. Jim Spafford on the Outrider reported landing 3 over 220 pounds on a 1.5-day. Another trip aboard that boat took 9 anglers to land 30 yellowtail to 30 pounds, and 22 bluefin from 25 to 361 pounds, the two largest being a 314 pounder and the 361.
Capt. James Merrill on the Condor reported they landed a 320 pounder on a Seeker 2×3 rail rod and Penn International 50W, their second super-cow of the week.
The Outer Limits, Capt. Paul Fischer, landed 12 bluefin between 150 and 250 pounds Sunday.
The fall offshore season is on as never before since the legendary days of Zane Gray.