Why the kelp keeps producing — and Baja's fish vigilantes

Fishing in San Diego July 22-28

Bluefin tuna caught at night on the Thunderbird

Dock Totals July 22 – July 28: 5,446 anglers aboard 209 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 213 bluefin tuna, 310 yellowfin tuna, 11 skipjack tuna, 139 dorado, 1,318 yellowtail, 5 white seabass (3 released), 134 bonito, 103 barracuda, 3,698 calico bass, 225 sand bass, 1,184 rockfish, 45 whitefish, 3 lingcod, 827 sculpin, 37 sheephead, 11 halibut, 51 sanddab, 36 lizardfish, 2 leopard shark, 1 mako shark, 1 bocaccio, 2 opah, and 2 striped marlin

Saltwater: After a strong showing off the southeast end of San Clemente Island the week previous, the fleet scattered; some boats stayed in the area, and some cruised south from the Coronado Islands down to off Colonet. As the warmer water fills in, yellowfin tuna, dorado, and even skipjack tuna are moving in with it to within full-day range. Boats are finding the bluefin tuna and the fish are somewhat stubborn and keyed-in on small baitfish, but sporadic bites have produced decent numbers and a few extra-large models over 280 pounds.

Anglers were tentative to go for the hit-and-miss action even though there were large schools boiling. But the yellowfin and dorado bite moving in brought the masses back; the angler count this past week was over 5,400 for the first time this year.

I believe this year’s first 300+ pound bluefin tuna was landed this past week from the grounds near San Clemente Island: the Thunderbird, fishing out of Davey's Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching in Newport Beach, worked the kelp beds on the lee of the island during day one of a two-day trip for a couple barracuda, a yellowtail and limits of calico bass.

Given a bright, nearly full moon in the night sky, they decided to give the bluefin tuna a go at night, as the grounds were just a few miles off the middle-backside of the island - the same area that the San Diego fleet has been working. They wound up with 16 fish landed from 45 pounds to well over 200 pounds – the largest at 302 pounds.

Back along our coast, the kelp beds have been producing so many keeper calico bass (14 inches minimum length), one has to wonder how these fish populations are holding up. Allowing a few restricted areas along the coast has given the fish a safe haven to multiply and grow before they fan out.

I have seen places in this world that get fished out and it is not a pretty sight. For that reason, many small fishing towns in Baja incorporate their own regulations.

Co-ops in Baja Sur’s Pacific-side villages of Asunción and Abreojos will adjust the size of abalone and lobster if it looks like those species are succumbing to pressure. There you will find hired security patrolling the water looking for poachers as the fishing authority in Mexico (Conapesca) is over-worked on the mainland and the Sea of Cortez, leaving little time to enforce regulations from San Quintin Bay south to Guererro Negro.

Fish Plants: August 3, Santee Lakes, catfish (1,000)

Photo: https://www.facebook.com/thunderbirdjeff/photos/pcb.2163403807021493/2163402143688326/?type=3&theater “Three large bluefin tuna caught at night aboard the Thunderbird, including a 302 pound beast (left)” Credit: Thunderbird Fishing Co Inc.

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