The Fish Sniffer - Yellow, Gold And Bottom Brown
Yellow, Gold And Bottom Brown

Written By: Bill Roecker, July 13, 2014
Species: Dorado Tuna Halibut
Location: San Diego,

Backtracking briefly to yesterday’s story about the yellowtail bite we experienced on The 13 Spot at the top of The Ridge, I’d like to point out that skipper Billy Santiago Jr.’s parking job put us exactly on top of frantically biting fish. Maybe one other reason we loaded up so well on these prime yellows was that the fish were getting tired of eating the natural feed available; a gazillion pelagic red crabs floating along on the current, so many they could be seen downward for several feet in the water.

The mackerel and sardines (thanks to what we got from the Everingham Brothers pens) must have seemed like the chow we enjoyed aboard, special and delicious. A foreshadowing of what was to come occurred when I and one or two other anglers plucked two or three dorado out of the frenzied jacks. Salas gift jigs (both on the surface and yoyoed), accounted for a lot of fish. Those dorado and many yellowtail were really going for the finbait, and I never saw a fish eat one of the red crabs, though I reckon the fish cleaning afterward must have produced a plethora of crimson crustaceans.

Our next fishing spot was hard earned, as we looked long and hard on the outside of The Ridge for kelps, reportedly holding wahoo. It was late the next afternoon, 500 miles from San Diego when we found the right one. Skipper Billy told us to get prepared when he said he could see jumpers from a half-mile away, as we rolled on up to a kelp mat that didn’t look any different from the previous dozen.

But it was very different, as the detached sea plants held almost as many dorado as the 13 Spot offered red crab and yellowtail. It was nearly sundown when we arrived, and the golden speedsters bit on mackerel as though the bait was a hated enemy, swallowing the big baits like M&Ms. It’s always interesting to me how large a bait dorado can put down the hatch, and how quickly they can move off with it.

I have never seen such large dorado so far north so early in the season, which may be related to the oncoming El Nino. When the spray from all those jumpers in a quickening wind cleared after sunset, we were limited out with dorado from eight to nearly 40 pounds. We also had a half-dozen wahoo. Two came to Soft Steel distributor Tony Garza, who pulled them from beneath the dorado gang with bombs he let sink 100 feet or so. One is shown in the jackpot shot.

Time had become a factor on this eight-day trip, so Intrepid headed north through a fair breeze, chop and swell. It came down as we got closer to the coastline above The Ridge. We returned to Cedros Island for another crack at the halibut in the sunny lee, on flat water. The big flatties were biting again, and we got a dozen or so during the rare opportunity, along with some kelp bass. Adam Silberberg, who had at least four big ones for his trip, got the winner, a 41.2-pound, meaty giant that made me just a tiny bit envious.

Sid Silliman doesn’t fish for flatties, nor does the retired Cal Poly Asian studies professor enter the jackpot. He long-soaked big greenbacks while others plunged with eight-ounce torpedo sinkers. So his mackerel-chomping yellowtail of 43 pounds plus isn’t seen there, but Sid posed with several of his slugs. This is the whopper. Early that afternoon we left, and drove through the northern tuna grounds for a few yellowfin we trolled up with Zucker’s and cedar plugs and a couple on bait, and that was it. We saw the seiner fleet and the sportboats fishing in the area, but tuna glumness mostly prevailed for the boats we saw or talked with in the cool, breezy overcast.

Back home June 29 at Pt. Loma Sportfishing, the jackpot winners were Adam Silberberg of Santa Clarita Valley, for a 41.2-pound halibut, Sal Tocco, 38-pound yellowtail, Brian Atkinson, 37.8-pound yellowtail, represented here by Wally Akimoto and a big dorado, and Tony Garza with a 33.2-pound wahoo as honorable mention.

My thanks and appreciation to Ken Price and Steve Hoffman for a fine Intrepid adventure, and kudos to an excellent crew: Billy Santiago Jr., Jesus Companioni, Nick Maurer, Chad Smith, Romo Ghio and Chefs Perry Mcmillian and Stan Paurazas. I’ll remember that last lobster/fillet mignon dinner as a special treat. 


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