Have we come to the end of this incredible bite of bluefin tuna?
High winds kept most of the boats out of the water or at least close to shore at the start of the week. As of Thursday, conditions improved and the epic bluefin tuna bite continued near Point Sur, Carmel and Davenport Fingers.
Todd Fraser of Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz reported, “Fishermen catch tuna with Fingers in 4,000 feet of water. Fishermen who fished in the cold water indoors could not find too many. Hot water is a little further away, so go find it.
He added: “There was a boat that got caught up near Carmel today and fought the fish for hours. The area around 36’53 / 122’31 and 36’54 / 121’25 produced bluefin tuna in the 60-120 pound range. Fish are always caught from the surface to 150 feet deep. ”
Conditions have varied over the past few weeks as this tuna bite continued. A big change may be coming, and it remains to be seen how powerful the weather system will turn out and what effect it will have on the big bite of bluefin tuna.
The bite was still going strong on Sunday. The conditions were correct with gusts of wind in the afternoon which became more troublesome in the evening.
Tom Dolan of Monterey Bay Charters on the Mega-Bite had two customers on board with the intention of catching bluefin tuna while the fish are there. Palo Alto client Chris Loops is one of Dolan’s regulars and had even set up a home workout room to prepare for a big tuna fight. And he was rewarded. It wasn’t easy, however, according to Dolan.
“We decided to go get some tuna knowing the odds were stacked against us,” Dolan said.
They took an hour at dawn to catch some live mackerel at Soquel Point, then headed for the weather buoy. They got to 24 miles, then searched for three hours.
“When are we going to come by? Asked the customer.
“As soon as I see something that makes sense,” replied Dolan.
Dolan said they didn’t see any riders or windbreaks, but spotted a huge pod of feeding dolphins in the area. Eventually he saw a blip on the sonar, dropped the equipment, made a half circle, and they were quickly rewarded with a hookup.
Loops and his pal Bredon Gertz worked together for the grueling fight. When the tuna finally entered the final phase of the “deep circle of death” combat, Gertz was able to bring it to the edge of the boat.
Dolan was very happy with the result of the day, saying: “It took two blunders to get him over the rail. It was like a manual as it happened.
Forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) indicate rain every day until Tuesday. It looks like an actual winter storm that includes a westerly swell that increases in size over the course of the week, up to nine feet at 10 seconds on Sunday. It could be swan song for the local bluefin tuna fishery. The system looks like the start of a winter season pattern, with weather conditions and waves generated by the Gulf of Alaska.
If the winter pattern persists, it will affect all of our normal coastal species as well as tuna with a premature movement to deeper waters where the fish disperse. While we are grateful for the possibility of heavy rainfall during the destructive drought we are experiencing, it would be almost tragic to see the end of the historic big tuna bite after these few weeks of chaos, madness and for some the ultimate triumph of landing a triple- naked tuna in our own backyard.
JT Thomas, skipper of Go Fish Santa Cruz, has been responding to customer desires for rockfish and lingcod all week. Thomas has the best success along the coast near Franklin Point and the Año Nuevo area.
“We regularly beat them by Franklin,” Thomas reported. “On Sunday the fish were slow to bite though. It took us almost until noon to reach our limits. I could see the fish scrambling on the telescope but we couldn’t find any takers until then. as I move to the third reef where the big blacks were completely cooperative, we got 50 blacks of the big variety on our first drift, and hit the limits on our second.
Thomas reminds us that the rainy week may not affect the bluefin tuna bite at all, we will have to wait and see. In a significant sighting, Thomas also recounted his Sunday night contact with a business buddy still fishing near Davenport. Apparently the bluefin tuna will bite in the rain. It was already raining heavily by that time on the coast towards Davenport. The buddy had three tunas on the boat and was still fishing.
For the week ahead, Thomas expects to face day-to-day conditions. “I’m going tomorrow, the wind looks good for the morning,” he said.
Allen Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak’s fishing and surfcasting guide service. Please send your reports, photos or questions to [email protected]