What are being described as jumbo, “fish of a lifetime” sized Bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna and yellowtail are being caught offshore in Southern California. The bluefin tuna continue to shock with regard to the size of the fish showing and sometimes biting. Catches ranged from 40 to 240 and up pounds, with some reports of bluefin breaking the 300-pound class. The yellowfin tuna have also been quality-sized fish running from 15 to 100 pounds.
There are a lot of bluefin and yellowfin tuna on the offshore fishing grounds but the fish have continued in a pattern of behavior where they aren’t biting well compared to the large volume being seen. Until the fish change their habits and start biting better anglers need to focus on trying to catch a very nice sized tuna or two rather than have expectations of catching a large number of bluefin or yellowfin.
Productive areas for the tuna and kelp paddy yellowtail have been expanding over a wider expanse of ocean, ranging from the 277 Spot off the east end of Catalina on down to the offshore banks outside of the Coronado Islands. The three best areas recently were the 43 Fathom Spot, the Corner and in an area located about halfway between the 43 Fathom Spot and San Clemente Island. Other productive spots have been the 302 Spot, 230 Spot, 224 Spot, 182 Spot, 181 Spot, 289 Spot, 9 Mile Bank, 312 Spot and 209 Spot.
Trolling with cedar plugs and Rapalas produces an occasional yellowfin tuna but does not produce much in the way of bluefin activity. The best bets for the bluefin have been trying to get bait or lure to a spot of breaking fish before they sound. Surface iron, poppers, and thin metal blade yo-yo style jigs have all been effective for those using jigs. Mackerel have been the best choice for those using live bait with live sardines also producing some action. For those fishing live bait, flylining and slow trolling have been effective methods. Kite fishing has also produced some action while drift fishing with a live mackerel or by trolling Yummy Filers. Of all the choices mentioned above, poppers have been the most popular and effective.
The 2016 summer fishing season is unfolding into a memorable year. It is not often we get 240+ pound bluefin tuna off the local coast. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity and give it a try while they are here. Keep on fishing!
(as from Bob Vanian)