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San Clemente Island has been pointing at the tuna

Some of the counts look horrible

Most of the action is within 15 miles of San Clemente Island.
  • Most of the action is within 15 miles of San Clemente Island.
  • Google Earth

Dock Totals July 15 – July 21: 5,356 anglers aboard 199 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 669 bluefin tuna, 243 yellowfin tuna, 19 dorado, 777 yellowtail, 1 white seabass (released), 289 bonito, 259 barracuda, 2,365 calico bass, 594 sand bass, 1,243 rockfish, 93 whitefish, 4 lingcod, 1,398 sculpin, 42 sheephead, 4 halibut, 151 sanddab, 2 thresher shark (released), 10 bocaccio, 1 cabezon, 3 black seabass (released), 2 yellowfin croaker, 1 brown smoothhound shark, 2 bat ray (released), and 1 escolar

San Clemente Island with more detail.

San Clemente Island with more detail.

Saltwater: The large area of tuna outside are from deep into Mexican waters to west of San Diego. For the fish off our coast in American waters, the basic area has shifted west a little more, putting most of the action within 15 miles of San Clemente Island. Maybe they’ll start biting better. So far they’ve been hesitant.

Looking at San Clemente Island on a map or chart, you can see that the lower end looks like a pointing hand. If heading out and wanting to boat some tuna north of the border, take a compass or string, pin it on the chart at the tip of the finger pointing southeast, scale out to twenty miles, then make a half circle from due west, south, then back up to due east. Look there in that half circle from just off the Island to the 20 miles out. That’s where the majority of 1.5 day boats have been working, but at 40 to 80 miles west of the Mission Bay entrance, that’s a haul. For less of a run and a chance at a trophy tuna, the 30 Mile Bank, the 182, and the 9 Mile Bank hold promise. South into Mexican waters, boats fishing the Coronado Islands have been doing well on yellowtail after a bit of a lull in that bite, while managing some occasional tuna from off a little south and outside.

San Clemente Island is pointing at Todos Santos Island off Ensenada, some 112 miles away. Anywhere along that line or parallel to it by twenty-five miles might hold a school of yellowfin or bluefin tuna. Kelp paddies are collecting dorado as the water warms and they start filling into the area with the yellowfin, while occasional schools of yellowtail will show in the mix just to keep it all interesting out there. Some of the counts look horrible; a handful of bluefin to a few dozen anglers doesn’t look like good fishing. But counts do not tell the whole story, and when you see fish pushing 300 pounds hitting the deck and foaming schools of tuna blowing up bait balls, one has to conclude that the numbers of fish-per-angler landed will go way up shortly.

China Point sits five miles east-southeast of Pyramid Head, and is the southernmost part of the Island. I remember anchoring there in the summer of 1980 catching small bluefin tuna on light line and small hooks due to the tiny bait we had. It was a one fish in four or five hook-ups to land a fish once hooked. Between the fish chewing you off or a sea lion taking a tired fish, we lost the majority. But, if the hook was set just right and the dogs left your fish alone, the Penn 500s we used had room for about 600 yards of 15-pound test line on the spool; plenty to wear the fish down. Be glad these big fish this season are not so line shy – a 287-pounder hit the deck this past week that ate a 200-pound leader tied to 130-pound mainline, and it took every bit of that to complete the feat.

As far as gear and terminal tackle, ask the landing when making reservations, or message the specific boat or landing on their Facebook page.

Fish Plants: July 27, Lake Poway, catfish (TBD), Santee Lakes, catfish (1,000), July 30, Jennings, catfish (1,000)

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