BY MERIT MCCREA
SAN DIEGO — The windy weather backed off a bit and the bluefin tuna bite bent rods, with some snaps on fish averaging over 100 pounds along with several cows mixed in. The better bites were night bites. Kelp paddy yellows were also on tap.
Capt. Bill Cavanaugh on the Intrepid reported an incredible first trip of the season, a 3 dayer. Here’s his post: “We returned home from a very successful 3-day trip this morning at 0700. Final tally for our trip was 42 bluefin tuna — 27 of those were over 100 pounds, 3 were over 200 pounds and 1 was 188 pounds. We also picked up 70 yellowtail. Most of our bluefin came during a night bite that was nothing short of epic. It was every drop for 4 straight hours on the Flat-Falls and sinker rigs. We had 5 to 10 fish hooked the entire time. It was crazy-good fishing, a night that none of us will ever forget. Our jackpot winners are as follows: third place went to Michael Frawley with a 188.1-pound bluefin tuna, second place went to John Keeler with a 202.4-pound bluefin, and first place goes to Patrick Wade with a 215.7- pound bluefin. Honorable mention goes to Nicko Carcich with a 200.7-pound bluefin tuna that he landed while fishing the kite.”
You can’t really beat that!
Those aboard the American Angler found phenomenal sign of fish as they arrived on scene, but the big fish seemed to lose interest during the day. They put 3 fish on deck for their efforts with one at 129 pounds and another big tuna, a cow of 211 pounds.
The recommended gear for this is a 60- or 80-pound class outfit for fishing the sinker and rubberband rig as well as for dropping the iron during daytime. Use a short leader of 60- pound fluorocarbon, backed by 80- or 100-pound braid. Size 2/0 to 4/0 circle hooks were key for the big tuna and a standard fly- line rig for kelp paddy yellows was the ticket.
The fleet was fishing a bit over 100 miles south so a 1.5- day was the bare minimum. However, the good snaps occurred after dark, so a 2.5-day or longer would be the better bet.
For the Sea Adventure 80, Capt. Scott McDaniels said, “It’s no surprise to most captains that there is fantastic signs of bluefin tuna in April! We have been seeing year-round bluefin tuna for the past six years straight. What is the biggest surprise is that they keep getting bigger and bigger every year!” He concluded by suggesting the possibility of seeing fish over 400, maybe even 500 pounds.
Capt. Kley aboard the Old Glory said, “Yesterday we looked at a lot of big fish that were tough to stop. We did have one rather large one lost just a few feet from the gaff. There are also some nice schools of yellowtail on kelps in the area. We lost our bluefin but we did catch 56 yellowtail.”
The trip prior he’d had 137 yellows for 30 anglers, plus a bluefin. Tuesday’s run had resulted in 21 bluefin on deck ranging from 50 to 150 pounds.
What had worked were shiny knife jigs like Daiwa’s SK jigs, Flat-Falls of 150 to 200 grams, and the sinker rigs with 8- ounces of lead and a 3/0 hook on 60-pound. In addition, there were a few yellowfin in the mix spotted, yet waters remained in the lower 60s at the surface.
Capt. Mike Loust aboard the Tomahawk reported to Fisherman’s Landing Sunday morning, “Daylight broke and we put 3 more bluefin, 80 to 90 pounds on the boat after last night’s action. We have 5 bluefin over 100 pounds, 1 about 180 pounds and the rest around 150 pounds, and have 2 more at around 50 pounds. Very good sign of bluefin out here.”
Capt. Jeff Spafford on the Outrider called in Sunday with early limits of 12- to 20-pound yellows and a bluefin for 9 anglers on a 1.5-day.
At press the time bigger bluefin were the target for the remainder.
Those aboard the Royal Star put a cow of 215 pounds on deck alongside others of 70 pounds and above.
Aboard the Tribute they hooked several of the larger bluefin, landing one over 200 and losing another monster on the kite at deep color. A score of 83 yellowtail helped dull the heartache.
Friday the Polaris Supreme was back dockside from a 1.5-day with 19 bluefin to 180 along with 80 yellowtail for 24 anglers.
Great rockfishing set the pace out at the Coronado Islands, with only an occasional yellowtail spicing up the action.
For the local half-day boats it was also mostly about the bot- tom grabbers, but indeed, a few barracuda have arrived and the New Seaforth showed a score of 25 Tuesday afternoon, along with some bass, which were mostly released.
Most of the fishing out of Oceanside Harbor also centered on the half-day grounds. As of Sunday afternoon, Helgren’s Oceanside Sportfishing had only reported one outing in the past week – a 3/4-day on the Sea Trek. The 19 anglers scored 43 fish that kept, including 10 sanddabs.
However, the Oceanside 95 was gearing to go offshore targeting those big blues and kelp yellows.
It was a bit more lively over at the Oceanside SEA Center, with 7 half-day runs off the dock and a couple of 3/4-day trips too. Highlights included rockfish limits aboard the Pronto with 6 anglers on a half-day.
The Southern Cal on a 3/4-day put up a bottom grabber score for 19 anglers averaging 9 fish per rod with about half rockfish and half whitefish.