Inshore: The total angler count for the San Diego sportfishing fleet topped 5000 for the first time in 2016 last week, after 4000 the week previous. The ¾-day boats are getting bonito some very large, barracuda and yellowtail at the Coronado Islands. Half-day and twilight trips are concentrating on the kelp edge and upper portion of the water column — this explains the shift from rockfish and sculpin counts to the much higher calico bass, bonita, and barracuda counts for the inshore fleet. A few more white seabass hit the deck as there is a good spot of market squid off La Jolla, while the yellowtail continue to cruise the coast hunting mostly mackerel.
Outside: The yellowfin tuna numbers jumped up dramatically this past week. Dorado and bluefin tuna also showed well, along with a few exotics including a striped marlin and an opah. These fish are in the 1-to-3-day range and starting to bite with some authority and creating the normal ruckus on deck when the fish explode next to the boat. The “tuna shuffle” is the dance of the anglers at the rail in this type of fishing and they are stepping to it. These fish will wrap up and break off if not aware so keep the wind in your face, no slack in your line and your bait or your fish in front of you. The summer offshore rule to remember: “No angles, no dangles, no tangle.s”
7/10 – 7/16 Dock Totals: 5516 anglers aboard 215 boats out of San Diego landings this past week caught 84 dorado, 1 skipjack tuna, 1 bigeye tuna, 326 bluefin tuna, 1,572 yellowfin tuna, 1 striped marlin, 1 opah, 2 thresher shark, 1 mako shark, 2,438 yellowtail, 2,687 calico bass, 89 sand bass, 1,284 rockfish, 20 lingcod, 21 sculpin, 1,323 bonito, 854 barracuda, 54 sheephead, 15 halibut, 7 white seabass, 80 mackerel and 1 cabezon.
Notable: Down the Baja coast, the bait seiners were hard at work last year scooping up food, mostly sardine, for the pens full of tuna being fattened up for market on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. In Santa Maria Bay alone, I saw two to seven seiners working day and night for about three months. The west coast sardine population has a big dent in it as far as I can tell. Normally, being in the cool water zone, the sardine population is thick in the broad, shallow bay. This year, I have yet to see one bait ball inshore. Nothing in the Boca of San Quintin Bay either to speak of, where this time last year yellowtail were chasing the 'dines right up to the beach. I have seen a few birds working outside the surf line, but the big bait balls loaded with activity have yet to show.
Scheduled fish plants (lbs): Last plant; 7/18, Jennings, catfish (2000), 7/22 Santee Lakes, catfish (1000)