The offshore fleet has faced a challenging few weeks, with skippers working tirelessly to locate bluefin tuna. However, recent developments have brought about a change in fortune. The fleet has once again found success in capturing 50- to 100-pound class fish, mostly during nighttime fishing expeditions.
This prized catch is currently situated within a 50- to 60-mile radius of every harbor stretching from San Pedro to San Diego. The San Diego fleet is already reaping the benefits, while boats operating south of Pedro are adapting their strategy to focus on larger gear and heavy iron.
Although there are some daytime bites, the bulk of the action still occurs after dark—a classic characteristic of bluefin tuna behavior. The tides turned on Saturday night, as Captain Aliyar Nabi reported a highly successful fishing session, resulting in the capture of 64 fish weighing between 50 and 100 pounds.
The preferred gear choices that have proven effective include 300-gram knife jigs and sinker rigs with live bait. When arriving at a fishing spot, speed is crucial to ensure the lures are in the water before the bluefin tuna scatter.
While these elusive fish do not remain directly under the boat at all times, they frequently roam in close proximity, occasionally darting under the vessel. Anglers often adopt a patient approach, allowing the jig to hang in the water, a technique that yields positive results. Alternately, repeatedly winding and dropping the lure can entice strikes, particularly during the descent.
At times, when the skipper excitedly announces the depth where the bluefin are concentrated, estimating the precise amount of line to let out can be challenging due to the previous winding and dropping. One simple solution to address this issue is using Izorline MC braid, which features different colors every 100 feet, allowing for quick adjustments based on known depths and accounting for any length of mono line on top.
In the absence of color-coded line, anglers may opt to drop the lure deeper and retrieve it by winding up two bunches of line, hoping to pass it through the fish in the process. Another option is to reel in the line completely and drop the lure again to present a fresh opportunity.
When it comes to hooks, experienced anglers often replace factory hooks with high-quality alternatives. One observed approach involved using heavy-duty assist hooks paired with a large treble hook, effectively securing the hooked fish and minimizing their ability to escape.
Occasionally, a bluefin tuna may resist taking out line and stay deep, requiring anglers to exert additional effort during the fight. These battles can be arduous but are worth the perseverance.
Typically, after a brief struggle, the fish will make a powerful run toward the horizon. It is advisable to let the fish swim away and maintain tension on the line. After a few minutes, the fish will often turn back towards the angler. Swift reeling is necessary to keep the line taut.
Once the fish descends straight down, it’s time to prepare for the final phase of the battle. Ideally, at this point, the area along the rail will be less congested, offering a clearer space for maneuvering. Placing the rod on the rail, anglers can steadily retrieve the line, half a turn at a time, while keeping the rod bent.
Maintaining a bent rod is essential throughout the fight. If the rod begins to straighten, anglers should immediately adjust the line to maintain tension. For a crew member to successfully gaff a bluefin tuna weighing over 100 pounds, the fish must be brought close to the boat, with its head out of the water. Gaffing the fish in the head or chest prevents it from thrashing about, ensuring a safer capture.
Anglers should be prepared to pause reeling and follow the crew member along the rail to the designated area where additional crew members will assist in securing the catch with additional gaffs.