Date: May 28, 2015
Trip: 3/4 Day (6am – 3pm)
Destination: Offshore and Inshore
Crew: Capt. Chad Steffen, Marcus, John
Load: 24 Anglers
Nevermind the amazing news that we’re catching kelp paddy yellows in May. The amazing-er thing about this is that these fish are HUGE!!! for kelp paddy fish. Normally, kelp paddy yellows range from bait-sized to about 12 pounds. On the other hand, these fish that have been caught recently are 15-35 pounds, with most over 20. WOW!!! Now that’s incredible.
The bite had been pretty good over the weekend, but it tapered off with holiday traffic and pressure. Nevertheless, we headed out first thing in search of kelp paddies. It was overcast out (my favorite kind of weather) but clear enough to spot paddies. The guys spotted one and we headed over to it, passing a smaller kelp on the way. After the first kelp didn’t pan out, we went back to the one we passed. Bingo!
We landed 4 yellows on this kelp, all fish being over 20 pounds. But the most amazing thing that happened were all the boils we saw. They didn’t look like yellows, so what could they have been? Bluefin tuna, that’s what! But that close to Dana Point? This year, anything’s possible! The fish that boiled appeared to range from schoolie size to “Volkswagen” size. I think a couple of the big boils we saw were definitely 100-plus-pound bluefin. Awesome to see, but today it was just see, no touch. They weren’t the least bit interested in touching anything we had on a hook.
Only one other kelp we stopped on produced fish, and two more were landed at that kelp. My dad was one of the two lucky people. He hooked his on 20-pound test, so it was touch and go for a while. While the crew worked feverishly to clear five lines on his, the yellow swam out to the kelp paddy. On this light of line, that would probably spell disaster, but fortunately he managed to get the fish free. After a brief battle, his landed the fish, a nice 18 pounder or so.
That was it for the yellowtail. I didn’t catch one, but I still won. You know why? I’ll still get to eat some of the awesome smoked yellowtail jerky my Dad and I make. I think if this summer’s as good for tuna and yellowtail as I think it is, we’ll be pretty busy with the smoker.
On the way into the beach to fish bass, the guys spotted a swordfish cruising along on the surface. We tried to “bait it” (as in slowly creeping up on it and tossing a hooked sardine or mackerel to it), but it wanted nothing to do with us. Surprisingly, however, it didn’t sink out. Oh, well…but it would have been great to try swordfish jerky.
Anyway, in the beach, conditions were awesome, but bass fishing wasn’t up to its full potential. If you fished bait you did all right and even scratched at some keeper calicos, but if you know me, you know I’d rather throw rubber. No keepers in my bunch, but I did get to pull on several shorts, short barracuda, and a few huge, cornfed mackerel. At color, I thought they were bonito. No dice on that, but they sure were fun to pull on.
And that was about it. Six yellowtail for our efforts and a nice hour of throwing plastics for bass (my favorite). As I write this, the Dana Wharf boats got some more yellows today. Capt. Brian Woolley of the Sum Fun says the conditions are getting nice, so hopefully the fish get with the program here shortly. These yellows are not “catchable”-size fish, but they are catchable if you have the right gear and you know what you’re doing. They weren’t really line shy, either, but fluorocarbon might be good to use to give you that extra edge over other anglers on the boat. Good luck and have a great season!