Bluefin tuna hunt continues with mixed results

Monterey Bay

Scott Werner from Santa Cruz took the cahnce and trolled for bluefin last weekend. Werner was one of the lucky few who actually hooked up and landed one of the prized tuna.

by Allen Bushnell

Fishing in the Monterey Bay area is quite productive right now and should remain so until we get a major weather or sea condition change. Water temperatures are hovering around 62 degrees, which is cool enough for salmon and bottomfish, yet warm enough to hold the bait that brings in bigger, more exotic fish to the area.

“There are some big bluefin in the bay right now. I just weighed in a 135 pound bluefin caught trolling a Rapala. I would say it is a good time to go looking on the canyon edges,” Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz reported on Saturday. Most reports indicate big schools are inhabiting the Big Sur region, though the Davenport Finger Canyons north of Santa Cruz are also a good bet, being an historical location for bluefin catches in previous years. Bluefin tuna have been sighted in the Davenport area, but if any have been caught there the anglers are being very quiet about it.

Santa Cruz fisherman Scott Werner managed a tuna hookup on Saturday while trolling cedar plugs way behind the boat in the Sur Canyon area. It was a relative peanut, weighing in at 36.1 pounds. On Sunday, Chris Arcoleo from Chris’ Fishing Trips reported, “Tinker (Captain Harry Neece) says he saw a bunch of bluefin down at Big Sur yesterday.” For many anglers it is frustrating to know the fish are definitely here, but it seems no one has broken the code yet to consistently get them on deck. Last weekend the feeling was, if the tuna stick around and enough people try for them enough times, we’ll see the catch rate numbers go up. Sure enough, on Wednesday, Fraser reported the catch rate increased dramatically. “Bluefin went on the bite today at the Sur Canyon. There were several fish caught on cedar plugs and Nomad DTX Minnows. The anglers who did the best were slow trolling mackerel on the surface and 50-100 feet down. There are boats hooked up as I write this at 5:15 pm,” Fraser noted.

Meanwhile halibut and rockcod fishing remains consistent and productive, with limits being the norm for rockies, and an increasing number of lings making their shallow water appearance in preparation for wintertime spawning. Chris Arcoleo posted daily limits of rockfish for his three boats out of Monterey and added, ““It’s pretty much the same. We’re heading down to Big Sur and coming home with limits every day. We got 20 lings on the boat yesterday. Every day it seems we’re getting more and more. They are moving in now.” Squid bait still doing best in the Monterey area. Arcoleo added.

Bait-wise, there’s not a whole lot of mackerel near Monterey this week, according to Arcoleo. “Squid is still the best bait right now.” Santa Cruz is hosting huge schools of macks just outside the harbor and from Rio Del Mar up to the Westcliff area. There’s a mix of Spanish and Pacific mackerel, either of which make great live bait for lings, halibut, or for the intrepid adventurer types that might explore the finger canyons 10 miles off Davenport for big bluefin.

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