Fish Report: First Yellowfin Tuna

2009-09-05_IMG_1284After much weather watching and fish report reading, I decided to take the little boat in search of some exotics (fish that migrate up from the more tropical areas).  I had been hearing about Yellowtail, Dorado and Yellowfin tuna.  This trip turned out to be quite a success with my first yellowfin tuna.

The day started out well.  The launch ramp was very calm and not nearly as crowded as I was expecting.  The crowd started at the bait barge.  In Southern California, you can’t catch your own bait with a net, so you need to buy it from a barge floating in the harbor. There were at least 20 boats in front of me.

Once I got bat, I headed out.  It is about an hour and a half ride, so I set the throttle at a fairly comfortable speed and headed out.  The water was pretty calm, but there was a swell.  Every minute or so I would hit a big wave.  After one of these I looked back at the bait tank was about half full.  I stopped, looked in and it all looked dead.  This was not good.  Actually, it was horrible.  The bait pump switch must have been jarred by a wave.  I restarted the pump, manually put in fresh water and pulled out the dead bait.  I had about 7 good ones left.

My first slow down was at the 9 mile bank.  I instantly saw some blue whales and a big school of porpoise.  There were also a lot of boats around.  I trolled around the porpoise for nothing.  I headed in the generally direction of the next offshore bank, the 182.  There were reports of Dorado and Yellowtail on kelp paddies 6-8 miles east of the bank.  The weather was still nice, so I headed that way.

At 6 miles away I hadn’t seen anything.  Just some boats around.  Many were stopped, but most were trolling.  About a mile from the bank (further out than I really wanted to go),  I saw the kelp I was looking for.  About a quarter mile in front of me it showed up on the top of a swell.  It was fully hidden in the trough.

There was just enough wind to drift now, so I headed up an got a bait ready.  I had my bigger gear (the proper stuff) still rigged for trolling, so I got my small rig ready.  It is best suited for inshore fishing.  A Curado 300 on a swimbait rod.  The rod is comparable to a 12-25 lb rod, so it isn’t too bad and I had caught a yellowtail with it before.

After a couple of drifts, I hadn’t seen anything.  I started to chunk some of my dead bait.

As I did a slow troll around the paddy, I got a bite while I was about 50 meters upwind of it.  5-10 minutes later I had a yellowtail in the boat!  I was very excited.

I kept chunking bait and soaked a few more baits.  I saw a few more fish, so I stayed at it even though it was slow.

Same thing, as I moved back to the top of the paddy (knowing I should have gotten my bait rod ready instead of continuing with the Curado) I got another bite.  This felt slightly bigger.  It took a little longer to get closer to the boat, and I saw another fish with it.  Hmmmm…. what is it?

Then it got close, and I saw it was a tuna!  Adrenaline went way up.  It also saw me and took off.

This game continued a few more times.  The Curado was holding in.  The fish came in close enough to gaff.  Waves, a strong fish and adrenaline don’t make for an easy combination.  My fist pull with the gaff bumped the fish, the gaff slipped and went into the water.  It dropped and then bobbed back up.  I grabbed it, but the fish decided to make another run.  2009-09-05_IMG_1286

After another 10 minutes of getting it back, I finally got the fish in the boat.  I was pretty excited.

The run home was long.  I was almost 30 miles out, but it was nice.  The boat likes going with the waves.  The day was amazingly beautiful with clear with blue skies and blue-blue water.

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