San Diego saltwater: Phenomenal fall fishing offshore

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BY MERIT McCREA

SAN DIEGO — The fleet out of San Diego County landings worked at least 4 regions through the week. To the south, the week started where it left off, with kelp paddy fishing wide open for dorado, skippies and yellowfin some 100 miles south. In addition, kelp paddy fishing southwest of Point Loma at around 50 miles in U.S. waters kicked out some major mahi scores under California limits plus oodles of hamachi yellows. Then over the weekend a bite materialized on the outer banks, bluefin from 30 to 40 pounds, and a few yellowfin of 50 to 70 in the mix too. At the same time, there were the bigger bluefin around too, taking kite and balloon gear to get, but also a few on the flat-fall.

This writer was aboard the Excalibur early in the week, fishing the southern sector kelps in wide-open bites, eating the 60 style on mostly 6- to 12-pound fish.

The morning of day one started with a tagged kelp with enough fish around it to keep anglers on several boats busy. It was quick limits on the flat-heads with hooked fish jumping all around. They ate it all, the Coltsniper, the popper and of course fly-lined sardines.

BRIGHT DORADO aboard the Condor. PHOTO COURTESY OF CONDOR SPORTFISHING

With a smattering of yellowfin tuna in the mix, the hardest bite was on the skipjack. With a few exploratory breaks during the day, another productive kelp or two were found, adding to the tuna catch until most skippies were being released.

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Hanging on the ‘chute through the night collected a mob of dorado and at dawn the bite was on, instant limits, catching and releasing dorado. Capt. Chuck Taft passed the hungry horde off to the Top Gun 80.

Back on a kelp the skippies were wide open, with a few yellowfin too. Fishing the popper produced a higher likelihood of dorado or yellowfin. A small sliding sinker also helped get past the skippies and dorado on top.

A long way south, this batch slipped far enough south through the week, most of the fleet opted for the U.S. waters bite by the weekend, as weather conditions glassed.

Highlights of the 55-mile bite included a couple of dorado scores by the Oceanside 95. Monday’s 1.5-day results wer 214 dorado for 27 anglers plus 9 yellowfin, 22 hamachi and 34 skipjack tuna.

A 266 COW bluefin – Poseidon.

Sunday Capt. Rick Slavkin said they had 135 yellows on a kelp, and 54 dorado plus a pair of yellowfin. There was a big wad of yellowfin on the kelp too, but the aggressive flat-heads ran them off he said.

They’ll be running trips so long as the bite lasts and folks come to fish it.

Sunday morning found most of the fleet on the south end of the Tanner Bank. There the quarry was bluefin of 30 to 40 pounds along with a few yellowfin from 40 to 70 pounds.

Sunday’s highlights included full limits of bluefin for 33, that’s 66 fish, and 9 of those larger yellowfin aboard the Pacific Queen.

Harder to get to bite big enough gear, yet in big schools were bunches of bigger bluefin of 70 to 360 pounds out in the basin between the islands.

On a 3.5-day the Queen spent the time on it and came up with 12 of the big ones including a 230 pounder.

A number of cows were landed in the fleet. The New Lo-An had a 230 on deck. The Tomahawk put a new boat record on at 350, a 346, a total of 6 over 200, another 5 fish over 120 and 7 of the larger yellowfin too.

60-LB. YELLOWFIN TUNA – Angler Ken Smith of Bakersfield was fishing on the Outrider operating out of Fisherman’s Landing and hooked into tis 60-pound tuna fishing northwest of San Clemente Island. Doing the gaffing chore was second captain Mike Kowalski.
WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

In addition to fish on the flyer and kite rigs, a few of the behemoths were taken on the Flat-Fall gear. A few more bit live bait tackle intended for their smaller brethren, but with unsurprising results, down to the knot in seconds and gone.

The Pacifica, on a 2 dayer, posted 104 bluefin, 130 yellows, 9 dorado and a yellowfin for her 26 anglers.

The full-day fleet fished the 55-mile zone for dorado and yellowtail. That was kelp paddy fishing which spanned the border.

There’s no getting away from it. Once again, even the shorter trips were worth bringing the whole quiver out for, from 30 to 100 on line size, and a jig stick or two in the mix as well for those who do that kind of thing.

The local bite on the half-day boats varied day by day, sometimes bonito and bass on tap, others cods had to do the job.

Twilight lobster hoop net trips scored well, with 10-net results showing 40 or 50 shorts and 20 or so keepers for an evening’s hooping. Saturday night 7 players pulled 75 bugs including 23 keepers aboard the Alicia, H&M Landing.

ONE OF THREE over 200 pounds coming off the Ranger 85.
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