IMG_5042As I sit writing this trip report, I’m still kind of in disbelief…half day tuna.  Let that sink in for a minute…HALF DAY TUNA.  I made a comment in the last post about how I was excited to try and go 3/4 right now in order to get in on the “local” tuna as I’d never gotten one on less than an overnight.  The day after I posted that report, I see a count of 82 yellowfin on the morning run of the boat I just rode aboard, the New Seaforth.  One day we’re experiencing epic calico fishing in the kelp, the next day they go offshore and put up a big score on yellowfin tuna?!?!  This opportunity was too good to pass up.  After Tuesday night dinner with the kids, I quickly packed and headed to San Diego.

I rolled into SD around 11:20 pm, check into my accommodations (my buddy John’s couch), and grab a quick few hours of shuteye.  At 4:30am, the alarm rings and we’re on the move.  We’re at Seaforth Landing an hour later and boarding the New Seaforth to experience this adventure…

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Capt. Brian glassing for signs of fish

Offshore fishing is always a gamble.  A tuna school can move 30 miles or more in a day.  The ocean is vast and finding a school that wants to play is a high risk / high reward scenario.  A half day trip runs about 6 hours.  Do the math…a couple hour ride out, a couple hour ride back leaves a very small window in the middle for actual fishing time.  There’s no time to troll.  Capt. Brian Castleton was driving solo for the trip.  We’re blasting out at over 12 knots to get in the zone…the northern edge of the 182 area…just skirting the Mexican border, but still US water.  The plan is to get in, hopefully kill some tuna, and get back out so they can do their afternoon run fishing for calicos in the kelp.  Capt. Brian warned people at the dock, and then again once we were aboard the boat that this was the plan.  This kind of fishing isn’t for everyone.  If you decide against, you can turn in your ticket for a full refund (at the landing office if you decide to get off the boat).  There are never any guarantees fishing, and this particular gambit is especially risky.  At only $45 for a ticket though, it opens up an opportunity that many anglers never get to experience.

After a long ride we finally get to the spot.  This is what happened next…

 

Wow!  Capt. Brian found ’em.  I ended up going Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  The boat got 42 yellowfin tuna on Wednesday, and 46 YFT & a bonus dodo on Thursday.  I was thrilled.  I got mine…2 on Wednesday with a big of close to 30 that just missed jackpot, and another 2 on Thursday.  I kept it simple and just fished bait, but my friend John threw the popper on Thursday and scored big…5 yellowfin and winning jackpot.  Some anglers were clearly unprepared for what they encountered, so here are some tips…

Do’s and Don’ts of Successful (Half Day) Tuna Fishing

Most of these tips apply anytime you go offshore, but some are specific to this unique trip.

Gear Recommendation – Keep it simple…I brought 4 rods Day 1.  I only brought 2 on Day 2.  The go-to setup I’d say is 25 or 30lb to a 2/0 circle hook.  I had it, so I used it, but fluoro is not a must.  No weight, just a flylined bait.  I did get bit on my 40 mono/40 fluoro setup, but I don’t think it makes sense to try to go big.  We’re in and we’re out, better to just catch what you can catch.  If you happen to catch a big one, BONUS.  The poppers worked very well for my friend John.  If you must go a 3rd setup, do a popper setup.  Also, it’s a long ride out to the fishing grounds.  Use that time to have a crewmember check your setup and properly set your drag if you are unsure yourself.  Don’t ask them to do this for you when the boat arrives and it’s time to fish.

Always Fish A Fresh Bait – it’s there, use it.  Don’t bait up early.  And DON’T LEAVE YOUR ROD AT THE RAIL!!!  If someone gets bit, they have to follow their fish.  If your rod is sitting at the rail when they do, it could end up on the deck and get broken, or it might just end up going overboard.  Take it with you to the bait tank.

Can’t Cast?  Maybe Try Another Trip – I get it.  Not everyone is religiously salty like myself.  However, the ability to flyline a sardine is absolutely essential.  If you drop a bait in the water and just start “pushing line” at it, you are NOT going to be successful.  In fact, you are going to be a problem for other people.  I would still encourage you to get out and enjoy this tuna bite, but this isn’t your ride.  You need a ride where there is a better ratio of crewmembers to anglers, so they can help you out and give you more personal attention.

Bring A Good Attitude – It is what it is…a half day boat with a $45 ticket.  You’re going to get some people who haven’t done this before.  Check your ego at the door.  Have some patience.  I had a guy cast over me and proceed to tell me how that was my fault.  Let it go.  Tuna fishing is not a competitive sport.  We need to work together.  One bad apple not getting with the gameplan is going to ruin it for a lot of people.  Take a deep breath, keep calm, and listen to the crew’s instructions.  They want you to catch fish.

That’s it.  Pretty simple.  Next week, the New Seaforth won’t be doing twilight anymore, so they will start going offshore on the PM run as well.  This trip will continue as long as the fish are around.  They should stay around awhile, but you never know.  Take advantage of it now.  Enjoy.  Tight lines!

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My 976-Tuna call in

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