June 28, 2006
Traditionally, it has been said that the start of the Albacore begins at the end of the Fireworks show on the 4th of July when you then board your boats and go Albie fishing. This year, unfortunately, it appears that the 2006 season will have ended by July 4th. That is a bit pessimistic, but look at the facts.
This winter we had unusually cold weather usually auguring a good longfin season. They like the cooler water and, sure enough, they came in early, provided some excitement and now appear to have moved on. We had larger than normal numbers of BlueFin moving in with them and hopes ran high. But the water has warmed exceptionally fast and now a little too hot for their likes. Last week saw some good fishing for many down around the 1010 trench. But crappy weather (which seems to correspond with crappy albacore fishing) made fishing difficult. Thus, recent counts have almost bottomed out and it now appears that there is virtually nothing left.
On the other side of the coin has been exceptional Yellowtail fishing under the kelp and yesterday saw allmost WFO fishing at the islands.
However, the past week also showed scattered Alb and BFT fishing moving up somewhat towards the upper 500 and the so-called "Hidden Reef," which I now refer to as the Vanian Bank.
Thus, we (Harry Okuda, Geoff Halpern and YT) decided to try some of this reported closer fishing. Checking the weather it appeared that Tuesday nite and Wednesday were showing somewhat of a "window" in the sloppy weather rountine. So we headed out a little later than usual and immediately encountered some steady wind from the NW. This made for a some-what sloppy, roly-poly, but not bouncy ride. Clear skies and many stars. South of the ilands the water even laid dow quite a bit. Arriving near the Vanian bank we found black skies, numerous dense rain squalls, and lightning bolts reaching the water. This was no place to be and Geoffrey "punched" it and we headed out in a southwesterly direction away from the rain and dark skies. As the morning lite arose you could see the falling rain all around as well as the edges of those slow moving clouds coming up from Mexico. Probably harboring a few illegal immigrants, but somewhat typical of a summer storm.
Getting away from there in a hurry we decided to head towards the 1010 where, generally, most of the action has been. Just above the trench we started out with a quadruple - sorry, not albacore - but these giant sized Bonita. We kept them as Harry indicated that they can be eaten if properly prepared. In addition, he wanted to weigh-in one of these brutes for his various competitions. Unfortunately, as he was putting it into the bag it slipped from his hand and headed for the deep 6. I guess you might call this "chumming" with 10 pd. Bonitas.
So into the trench and then down the eastern edge. With nothing further to show I tried the good old "take a nap" routine. Sure enough, as soon as the lids closed came the "hook-up" cry and this turned out to be a triple on nice albies.Two of them were in the low 20's. But no boils on the chum and no bait hook-ups. So on and on we went with an occasional Bonita bite. As we crossed the lower half of the 1010 we did get a single albacore and then a single BFT tuna (rather small, about 8-10 pds, but good eating). With the various bites and lots of chum and excelletn almost cured sardine bait we never saw a boil or managed any hook-ups.
There were a few private boats around managing a few bonita and one couple of YT from a kelp paddy. We saw several sport boats in the area with frequent stops on meter marks. If or what they were catching we don't know. One of the boats ended with a count of about 7 YT and 12 bonies. The dock count for the SD landings (including 1 1/2 day boats was 1 (one) Albacore, 245 YT and 13 BFT. 3 boats out of Seaforth registered 4 albacore and 108 YT. So our humble catch of 4 Albacore and 1 BFT seemed to be the "catch of the day." Two of the Albies bit on our usual B&P Zuckers and two were caught a blue and white cedar plug. And the bone-heads also took a liking for that plub. The water was 65.5 - 66.1. As we ran home the water warmed steadily and reached 71.8 near the islands. The weather down there was a little slppy, but no big swells and 10-12 knots of wind. As we returned north it steadily laid down and was glassy by the time we hit the "Whistler."
One of the 1 1/2 day boats reported seeing a marlin chasing bait on one of their kelp stops. Another was reported about 16 miles outside of Mission Bay. It won't be long. At least the fuel bills will be much less.
But there have been no reports of fish or signs down below and the season may well be over before the 4th - if not already. Another report was that multi-day long range boats had found exceptional BFT fishing down below and within two days a fleet of seiners was on them. Good-bye BFT fishing. Very depressing. Let's hope that with the warmer water YellowFin Tuna and Dorado are on the way. Pessimistic to say the least, but who knows what can pop up. Stay tuned.