Fishermen’s daughter-in-law Riley and Josh with their 310 pound bluefin tuna caught at Tanner Bank.
Dock totals 10/31 – 11/06: 1,776 anglers aboard 100 trips from the San Diego landings last week caught 548 bluefin tuna (up to 310 pounds), 83 skipjack, 654 calico (408 released), 29 sea bream, 5 lingcod, 148 lobsters (106 released), 11 rock crab, 1,438 redfish, 35 bass, 107 sculpins, 154 heads of sheep, 226 skipjack, 3 swordfish, 406 whitefish, 330 yellowfin and 2,332 amberjack.
Salt water: After a lull in the bite following windy conditions, bluefin tuna are back on the outer shores west of San Clemente Island. Most of the fish caught last week weighed between 30 and 80 pounds, but several boats have exceeded 200 pounds. A 310-pound “cow” hit the deck of the Polaris Supreme, which will surely be remembered by the father-daughter team who fought it for blunder. It took her three laps around the boat, but young Riley survived the huge tuna as well as any seasoned fisherman. These fish bite fly sardines and vertical jigs, with the larger models appearing from sunset to night.
This is a long 120 mile trip to the Tanner and Cortez shores where the big bluefin tuna seem to hang out every fall and winter, so if you plan to get in on the action 1.5 to 3 trips. days are the best bet for taking time on the rail for a chance to win a trophy tuna. As fish tend to cluster in relative size, a 30-50 pound medium-action rig is recommended for medium weights, while a 60-100 pound rig is best for larger units.
Even with the right equipment, landing a bluefin tuna can be a challenge. Their migratory pattern begins in the spawning grounds of the western Pacific, near the Nansei Islands and the southwestern part of the Sea of Japan. Hatched from eggs, the young tunas feed there until they are about a year old, then they roam the Pacific for several thousand kilometers at about 100 miles per day and pass the following years to feed off the coasts of California and Baja until they reach sexual maturity around 5 years. Mature fish return across the Pacific to spawn. They are one of the most efficient swimmers, can dive up to 3,000 feet and are endothermic, which means they retain the heat they produce while swimming and can endure cooler water than their cousins. more tropical; yellowfin and skipjack. This “warm-blooded” characteristic allows them to fight longer than most cold-blooded fish which can tire relatively easily in prolonged battle.
The bluefin tuna we catch off our coasts are juveniles to young adults and can weigh up to 400 pounds (a potential California state record of 395 pounds was weighed on the scales at the San Diego Marlin Club in September). While it continues to grow and can live up to 30 years, the Pacific bluefin tuna can reach a maximum size of almost three meters in length and weigh half a ton. The world record for a pole-and-reel caught Pacific bluefin tuna is 907 pounds and was caught off the coast of New Zealand. Our “supervaches” aren’t even halfway there, but fighting and landing any bluefin tuna over 200 pounds is a huge feat for everyone.
Closer to home, yellowfin, skipjack, and yellowtail flounder continue to bite well off the coast from the corner at the border outside the 12-mile Mexican Waters Zone and along the coast of Baja. A few sea bream still do the counts, but as the water cools, these are the first pelagic species to return south to warmer tropical climates. Much of the action takes place 30 to 50 miles off the coast of Baja, from outside the Coronado Islands in the south to the high points west of Ensenada. As the bluefin tuna bite has been halted, some 2 and 3 day trips head south targeting yellowfin, sea bream, and yellowtail flounder on the first day, then perform the 12 hour night north- west to Tanner Bank to complete their journey for the big bluefin tuna. For the local half-day fleet, calico bass and redfish are the primary targets off Loma Point, 9-Mile Bank and La Jolla, occasionally with yellowtail flounder, halibut, or redfish. ling cod.
Fresh water: It’s time to dust off the trout equipment as the local lakes begin their winter stocking programs. Santee Lakes just had its first plant on November 6 and will continue to stock trout every two weeks until March. The first 2,000-pound Lake Jennings plant will take place on November 15 and will continue to store every two weeks until April. Dixon Lake will have its first plant on November 16, although they are closed for fishing from the 16 until the season opens on Saturday, November 20. Wohlford, Poway, Morena and Chollas lakes will start their trout seasons in December.
This is the time of year when “mixed bag” fishing is best. As trout are planted, largemouth bass and catfish become active at the scent of their favorite prey. Redears moonfish dangle in the shallows to soak up the relative heat, and freshly stocked trout ply the edges of their new surroundings. A fly-lined night owl will often catch one of the species found in the area’s lakes in the fall, while warm water species stock up for the winter. Jennings Lake and San Vicente, in particular, are excellent lakes for birding in the colder months, as many high-altitude raptors – including bald and king eagles – take advantage of the warmer climates of the Comté and freshly stocked trout.
Fish plants: 11/15 – Lac Jennings, trout (2,000), 11/16 – Lac Dixon, trout (2,000)