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Private Boater Report: 289-pound bluefin, big coastal seabass in the mix

WON Staff Writer
Published: Jul 11, 2017
Coastal calicos and yellows seeing improved action with warmer water

THE LARGEST RECORDED and verified bluefin of the SoCal season was this 289 pounder caught Saturday, July 8 outside the 302 Spot by a trio of anglers skipping a Yummy Flyer under a kite. The Testa Dura, a 31 OceanMaster owned by Scott and Grant Morgan, middle and left, were with Adam Cargill, right, who manned the rod.

The skiff scene seems to be getting better and better with the warmer water driven north by Hurricane Eugene, and there were great stories of big bluefin, yellows and white seabass, along with the solid calico and sand bass action. The emergence of albacore off Central California and regions north is also part of the scene, but weather off Morro Bay kept PBers and sportfishers from running out 80 miles to intercept the longfins which appear to have again bypassed SoCal and northern Baja waters. Time will tell.

The big story for our SoCal Bight had to be the 289-pound bluefin, the biggest of the season that has been “recorded and reported” and was caught July 8 outside the 302 Spot by a trio of anglers using the kite and skipping a Yummy Flyer.

The Testa Dura, a 31 OceanMaster owned by Scott and Grant Morgan fishing out of San Diego Bay with friend Capt. Adam Cargill, first caught a 130 pounder, and then the 289 behemoth. Cargill, a former WON sales rep staffer and now a Cabo charterboat captain, manned the Penn 50SRTW spooled with 100-pound line topped by a wire leader. The Yummy Flyer outfitted with a stinger treble which lodged in the inside upper jaw over a 1-hour, 40-minute fight. They said the bite, which they did not see at first, left a VW-sized hole at the surface on the crushing strike. The fish was weighed at the Scott Street landings in Point Loma.

WON ASSOCIATE EDITOR BLAKE WARREN’S 52-pound white seabass caught out of Los Alamitos on a mackerel under a float while fishing with guide and SBS Director Gerry Mahieu. 

In another bit of WON staff news, assistant editor Blake Warren was fishing with Saltwater Series director and SoCal inshore/offshore guide Capt. Gerry Mahieu on Gerry’s 226 Robalo Cayman center console out of Los Alamitos on Wednesday. They fished near the kelp in 55 feet of water using mackerel under a float. They had one fish on for 30 seconds before losing it, but the next bite turned up a 52-pound white seabass for Warren. It was a personal best. Warren got the fish out of the kelp while using 65 braid and a short 40-pound leader, on a Daiwa Lexa 400HD reel and Proteus rod setup.

Bob Vanian was on the job all week for, keeping tabs on bluefin tuna, yellow­fin tuna, yellowtail and dorado that have been providing offshore action for many.

“As it has been most of this season to date, it remains hit-or-miss fishing that provides the chance at hooking and catching a large bluefin tuna that could go to 200-plus pounds,” said Vanian. “A positive thing to report is that the areas providing offshore action are more widespread with improved chances of finding action on bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail and dorado while fishing the more northern offshore waters in the Catalina region.”

Productive areas in the more northern offshore sector have been at spots such as the 209, 312, 181 and 289. Also productive has been fishing the area 7 to 15 miles off the coast between Carlsbad and San Onofre.

Vanian told WON on Monday that the best bluefin fishing has been in the San Diego region and there has been a chance at finding action on bluefin, yellowfin, dorado and yellowtail while fishing spots such as the 43 Fathom Spot, Corner, 224, 301, 371, 182 and 9 Mile Bank. Among those areas, the waters around and about the 302 Spot and the 224 Spot have been the best for targeting the big bluefin tuna.

PATIENCE AND CONFIDENCE PAYOFF — Jeff King of Carlsbad did it again July 8. At 3 p.m. on the slack tide, one bite came tight for a 66 x 46-inch BFT on the Yummy. This time it was on he and his dad Joel’s 18-foot Piper, Jeff fishing with his buddy Chris from Leucadia. Jeff has scored eight of these bluefin this year.

“One major improvement in the offshore fishing picture is in the fishing for kelp paddie yellowtail for boats fishing the offshore waters outside of the stretch of coast between Santo Tomas and Punta Colonet below Ensenada. There has been good kelp paddie yellowtail fishing down this way and there have been a few dorado and yellow­fin tuna in the mix as well,” said Vanian.

The yellowfin tuna have been running from 20 to 70 pounds. Cedar plugs have been working best for the yellowfin which have also been biting on sardines, Rapalas and Halco 130s. The yellowfin have been found by locating sonar marks, meter marks, porpoise schools and spots of breaking, puddling or breezing fish. The yellowtail and dorado have been biting on sardines fished around kelp paddies and have been running from 5 to 25 pounds.

Vanian got an interesting report from Mike Seymour of the Sea Section reported running up to Catalina from San Diego on Friday and buying some squid from a squid boat that was anchored in front of Avalon. He then went over to San Clemente Island to try for white seabass and yellowtail in the dark at Pyramid Cove. Seymour reported catching some calico bass but had no luck with white seabass or yellow­tail.

“His main purpose for going to San Clemente Island with live squid was to try for bluefin tuna at Desperation Reef,” said Vanian. “He went to Desperation Reef on Saturday morning and saw one spot of breaking bluefin shortly after arrival. After spending some time fishing the area, they never saw anything else and Seymour said it was looking rather quiet and they left.”

After leaving Desperation Reef early Saturday afternoon, said Vanian, Seymour fished his way back to San Diego and had his friend Ron Zaccaro catch a 6-pound dorado from a kelp paddy that was found above the 178 Spot that is located above the 9 Mile Bank.

On Sunday, Seymour took the remaining live squid to the Coronados, where he fished with his wife Peggy and their friend, Scott Pastore, and caught 7 yellowtail, along with a bunch of bass and barracuda. One of the yellowtail was small and was released and the rest were in the 6- to 13-pound range. One of the highlights of the trip was when Scott Pastore caught and released a 7-pound sand bass.

“Generally speaking, there has been good fishing around the Coronados for a mix of yellowtail, calico bass, bonito and barracuda,” said Vanian. “Productive areas have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the lee side of South Island and the South Kelp.”

Captain Billy of Bill Fish Sportfishing runs trips on the 4-pack and 6-pack charter boats E Fish N Sea, Tailblazen and All Paid and he reported about fishing a.m overnight trip aboard the All Paid on Thursday. Billy started the day fishing out by the Corner where they caught a 20-pound yellowfin tuna and a mako shark. As the day progressed, he worked the area of the 224 Spot where he found some of the larger-sized bluefin tuna and where angler Mike Light caught an estimated 140- to 150-pound bluefin that bit on a kite-trolled Yummy Flyer.

“He was locating bluefin by finding meter marks on the cool water side of a temperature break,” said Vanian. “What was most encouraging is that they would throw chum as they trolled over the meter marks and that the bluefin would respond to the chum and come up boiling. They tried dropping back sardines and mackerel to the boiling bluefin but they would not bite their hook baits. It is good to see the bluefin starting to respond better to the chum and this might be a sign that they are starting to show more interest in the types of baits anglers are presenting to them.”

Close to the coast, surface action looks to be developing with the warmer water pushing up has been good for calico bass along with a sprinkling of barracuda, bonito and an occasional yellowtail.

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