Why is this such a gift you may ask? When we experience El Nino weather patterns, it pushes warm water, and the big game species that thrive in it, from the south of Mexico into US waters. With that comes the most epic fishing one could ask for! In fact the rising temps have seen the Pacific Ocean waters of San Diego to Long Beach hit temps as high as almost 80 degrees. This has sparked one of the best tuna seasons that many anglers have ever seen in there lives! Bluefin, Yellowfin, Yellow Tail and even Wahoo have been caught in the local waters of Southern California. I have had the opportunity to fish this twice already this year. Once on an overnight trip, the other a 2.5 day trip. Both trips we caught boat limits of Bluefin tuna in local waters. Normally when you jump on these long range trips you head south of the boarder with dreams of hooking into the shy and illusive Bluefin Tuna, or Wahoo. But both these trips, though leaving from San Diego, had us heading north up the coast as we slept through the night. The first trip surprised me when we awoke and saw land! I asked where did we end up going, and to my surprise the Captain said, That is Catalina! Are you serious I thought? But as usual, the captain knows best, and before day could even break we were hooking up with a nice grade of Bluefin Tuna.
I had rigged all my Phenix Rods with heavier lines, thinking we would be heading south, but as mentioned, the Bluefin were extremely shy. After watching several people hookup on light line, I finally put my stubbornness aside and grabbed my Phenix Black Diamond PSW809H and rigged a 20lb Seaguar Blue Water top shot of about six feet. I also had to put away the 2/0 live bait hooks and actually barrow a size 4 hook. YES, I said a size 4!! When you think about it, I am use to using 3/0-7/0 wide gap hooks for bass! So for me to wrap my head around the fact that you can catch 50lb Bluefin on what looked like a tiny bluegill hook was plain mind blowing. But soon after switching I started to hook up. My first fish hit the deck at about 30lbs or so. The next broke me off as I forgot that you cant horse a tuna on 20lb test line! LOL we fished live sardines all day, and the lighter line helped them to swim more naturally and free. You could tell the minute you put your bait in the water if it was gonna get bit or be a dud. By 2:30 that afternoon the Captain announced that we had filled our limits and were gonna have to start the six hour drive back to Seaforth Landing.
My second trip, I once again thought I new what I was doing and had me rigging heavier lines again, thinking that with it being a 2.5 day trip we would for sure head south of the boarder. Lets just say, I'm never gonna try and guess another Captains thoughts again as we not only headed north once again, but we went past Catalina and San Clemente islands in the night and awoke at an area know as Osborn Shelf, just off of Santa Barbara Island! This time, I was smart and started off right from the get with the 20lb Seaguar top shot to 60lb Seaguar Kanzen braid spooled on my Shimano Tranx. Again, I had this reel mounted on the Phenix Black Diamond PSW 809H rod. For me, the day started slowly with a few pulled fish and a couple break offs. Again, trying to horse tuna on 20lb line is not the smartest thing to do! But even still, there were a couple of Phenix Pro-Staffers on the boat that had already landed half a dozen Bluefin to most everybody's one fish! Frustration started to kick in for me, how the heck can these guys be getting so many more bites then the other 24 people on board when were all standing side by side?!? So I finally, after about five hours of watching this show they were putting on, told Ryan our pro-staffer you have got to show me what your doing different, or what were all doing wrong. I handed him my rod, he inspected it, asked what pound line I was using and once approved, grabbed a fresh sardine, hooked it up and tossed it out. After only about 30 seconds he says hold on your gonna get one here in a second. I started laughing to myself when sure enough, my lines takes off like a freight train hit it. He set the hook and handed me my rod. I was almost in such a state of shock that it was hard to fight this fish! The whole 20 minutes it took me to land this thing my mind was scrambling and rehashing what exactly just happened, and how the hell did he do that!! So I landed my fish, a smaller 25lb Bluefin and walked over to him and said do that again, but this time slower and explain. So he did it once again, hooked up a sardine, tossed it out, 30 seconds later after working his magic, BAM, hooked up again! This time I landed the fish pretty quickly another 25lbr and proceeded to do exactly what he showed me. I grabbed a sardine I liked, Hooked it up in a matter of one second, as he said everybody all day has been molesting the dang bait trying to get a hook in it, and every second that you have that bait in your hand means your less likely to get bit! I tossed it out, worked the bait like he showed me, and just as I was getting ready to tell him check this out, its doing like yours, BAM I hook up again! This time with pride since I did this one on my own. If there's one thing I've learned in my 40 years of fishing, is if you don't know something, don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask! It could mean the difference of you watching the show, or joining it. Needless to say, though we had another full day of fishing yet ahead of us, we had already limited out on Bluefin tuna for both days in the first day alone. So we decided to head back south and hit some local paddies for some Dodo, Yellowfin, and Yellow tail! This was much funner to me since my passion is bass fishing, and I was able to use a lighter rod, a Phenix M1 82H inshore rod with a small Lexa 300 on it throwing surface poppers and small iron at the schooling fish. They weren't giants by any means, smaller 7-15lbrs, but man were they fun on the lighter tackle and gear.
So yes, I am looking forward to the supposed extremely WET winter we are supposed to have! And the good Lord knows we need it! But I sure love the bountiful gift of fish that this El Nino keeps on giving. God Bless and Fish Hard my friends.