Another summer, another tuna season south of the border.
The only difference is that some of the tuna they are catching aboard the San Diego fleet this summer aren't your ordinary tuna: They are super tuna.
Actually they are bluefin tuna, but they are much larger than the bluefins that typically migrate to within a day's range of San Diego's sportfishing fleet.
"These bluefins have been big , and this is the first time in anybody's memory that this has happened locally," said Buzz Brizendine, skipper of the Prowler out of Fisherman's Landing. "To catch 100-pound bluefin so close is just . . . something that doen't happen here."
But it has happened with surprising regularity for the past few weeks.
Brizendine's passengers had one of those memorable days at sea last Friday, boating 105 bluefin from 40 to 88 pounds during a bite that lasted all day. "We were stopped for 10 hours," Brizendine said. "And we had fish hanging the whole time except for maybe 10 minutes."
On another trip aboard the Prowler, Cody Newton of Lakeside landed one that tipped the landing's scale at 138 pounds.
The Polaris Supreme, meanwhile, spent eight days in an area from 100 miles southwest of Point Loma and beyond, catching so many giant bluefin--270 weighing between 50 and 140 pounds--that longtime skipper Tom Rothery labeled the excursion "a trip of a lifetime."
Brizendine said the giant bluefin tuna have become less abundant in the past few days, but added that the increased presence of yellowfin tuna has kept anglers reeling with excitement.
One vessel radioed to the landing at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday that 55 yellowfin--all in the 25-pound class--had been boated and that the bite was still in progress.
For variety's sake, the offshore kelp paddies--from 60 miles southwest of Point Loma and beyond--have been producing yellowtail from 15 to 25 pounds and dorado to 40 pounds.
"I have a feeling that this might be the beginning of a real barn-burner," Brizendine said.
For Captain Pochi and mate Carlos of the panga Marie Elena, the one that got away was seen by enough people to prove that they indeed had a monster on their hands.
The two were merely checking out a new motor installed on one of Victor's pangas in Baja California's San Jose del Cabo area. At sea, they noticed tuna crashing the surface and went to catch a few, but upon their arrival a "huge" marlin emerged on the surface.
Larry Burson at Jig Stop Tours in Dana Point, a U.S. representative for Victor's, said that half the fleet was in the area watching as the marlin, estimated at "22-24 feet and 1,000 pounds or more," inhaled a baited 10-pound tuna and fought stubbornly before eventually breaking the line and winning its freedom--16 hours later.
SALTWATER--Locally, it's sand bass on the bottom and some barracuda on top. Landings from Malibu to San Diego turned in sand bass counts into the thousands last weekend and since have been posting numbers well into the hundreds. Barracuda fishing remains excellent or spotty, depending on where you may be at a given time.
Cabo San Lucas: Hurricane Calvin may have affected the comfort level, but seemed to have little effect on the fishing. Dorado are plentiful, striped and blue marlin are fairly active and yellowfin tuna and wahoo are regulars at the scales. The Gaviota Fleet reports a blue marlin at 317 pounds and a tuna at 154 pounds. San Jose del Cabo: Lots of yellowfin, but few bigger than 15 pounds. Dorado less prevalent, but a little larger. Wahoo scattered. East Cape: Dorado and tuna plentiful offshore, and near-shore fishermen finding roosterfish fairly cooperative. A blue marlin was reported at 400 pounds.
Bay Area: "Spectacular salmon fishing continues outside the Golden Gate," said Roger Thomas, skipper of the Salty Lady and president of the Golden Gate Fishermen's Assn. Limits of king salmon have been the rule since Saturday, with the largest fish a 36-pounder. "The whole central coast is loaded with salmon, in particular outside the Golden Gate," Thomas said.
WORLD RECORDS--A trip into Mexican waters, organized by reel manufacturer Steve Abel to set fly-rod records, can officially be labeled a success. The International Game Fish Assn. has approved records for Lee Dixon II (128-pound 8-ounce sailfish on 20-pound tippet); Abel (14-12 black skipjack, 20-pound tippet); Ray Beadle (12-9 skipjack, 20-pound tippet); Wendy Hanvold (42-9 wahoo on 12-pound tippet); Tony Oswald (53-1 wahoo on 20-pound tippet). Note: Dan Byford's catch of a 37-2 wahoo on 12-pound tippet was recognized as a record, but has since been eclipsed.
SEMINARS--Ronnie Kovach will host a Penn Fishing University class free of charge Thursday from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Sports Chalet in Huntington Beach. Experts will discuss techniques for local and offshore species. Details: (714) 848-0988. . . . Guide Fred Rowe will discuss Easter Sierra fly-fishing opportunities at the Wilderness Fly Fishers' July 20 meeting at 6 p.m. at the Ramada Hotel in Los Angeles. Details: (310) 280-3459.