Bluefin tuna bite moving from ‘epic’ to ‘historical’

Monterey Bay

Fishing out of Moss Landing, Ryan Haggberg came home with this torpedo bluefin tuna this week.

by Allen Bushnell
10-8-2021
Website

Weather conditions are holding, and the big bluefin bite of 2021 is still on! If anything, it is getting better, as local anglers take advantage and learn from their mistakes. This week saw constant and consistent reports of boats finding, hooking and landing multiple tuna from a widespread area. The key spots are located off of Point Sur or near the Finger Canyons 10 miles west of Davenport. In the Sur area, these giant tuna are as close as 6 miles from the beach! At the Fingers, the distance offshore is more like 10-12 miles. Both locations take some travel time from port, but so far no one is complaining. There are temperature breaks out there, but the key factor seems to be getting to the canyon edges and just looking for feeding fish, jumpers and breezers. 

Last week we were calling this bite “epic.” We are moving rapidly towards “historical” status. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine is a noted tuna hunter from our area. On Saturday he said, “This is ‘all time’ fishing here in Santa Cruz. The anglers are using 60-80 pound Seaguar and live bait hooks on the mackerel. There have been some fish caught trolling Rapalas, Nomads and Cedar Plugs as well. Numerous fish have been caught and lost. There was even a 145-pound Opah caught on a mackerel near Davenport today.” Friday’s weather was a bit more uncomfortable, but tuna anglers were able to get offshore and score, according to Fraser. “Blue fin caught today at the Davenport Fingers and down near Big Sur. The fish are here and they are in the 70-180 pound class. The key is to find the water temperature break and look for the bluefin. The wind was not bad in the morning but it did blow 15 in the afternoon,” he reported. NOAA weather forecasts look good for the coming week. If it holds, we should continue to enjoy this amazing fishery.

Inshore, things are holding steady for regular fall-type fishing. In Capitola the rockfishing is still great. Lingcod catches are on the rise for fish from 6-20 pounds on local reefs. A few white sea bass are biting for anglers fishing near the Cement Ship. Halibut remain active in the Capitola area from 30 out to 80 feet of water. There are still a few undersized flatties in the mix, but most are keepers ranging from nine pounds up to the mid-twenties. Both the lings and halibut are biting like crazy on live bait. And, there’s plenty of bait to jig in the area including Spanish and Pacific mackerel, jack smelt, kingfish and anchovies. Anglers are finding success trolling lures or bait with a three-way rig or drifting with a short-leader three-ways and Carolina rigs. This time of year, fishing for big halibut is usually best up the coast. The sandy areas between rocky points of Three-Mile and Four-Mile Beaches are classic spots for fall halibut fishing. The bull kelp in that area grows out to 70-foot depths. Anglers trolling or using live bait find big flatties just beyond the kelp beds out to 90-100 feet of water.



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