Posted by: socalsalty | March 25, 2013

Trip Report: Yo-Yo Yellows At The Coronados

Mission Belle at Pt. Loma Sportfishing

Mission Belle at Pt. Loma Sportfishing

Friday night, I drove down to San Diego after work.  Last week, the 3/4 day boats: the San Diego, Mission Belle and Malahini had put together consistent counts all week.  Wednesday was the highpoint, with the San Diego getting 54, the Belle with 8 and the Malahini with 7.  These are big solid fish too…25-35 lbs…enough to entice me to pack the gear and make the drive down.

Saturday morning, John and I boarded the Belle for a 6am departure to chase yellowtail around the Coronado Islands south of the border.  John had been on the boat Friday.  They got 21 for 36 anglers.  He managed to get one on the surface iron.  Hopes were high for the 26 other anglers that boarded the boat with us.  Capt. Steve Peterson was driving, Karen and Scott were on deck, and Marie was running the galley.  We left Point Loma with live sardines and anchovies.

Capt. Steve told us we’d be spending the day in 80-140 ft. of water.  The preferred method to catch these big bruisers has been on the yo-yo iron, and the recommendation has been to use FRESH 40 or 50 lb mono.  I brought 3 rigs: a 30 lb. bait stick, 40 to fish smaller yo-yo jigs, and 50 to fish a big jig if things got stupid.  I started out the day using the 40 lb. rig with a 6x Jr in a green/blue/white pattern.

We started fishing just past the south island, east of the South Kelp Reef.  Steve told me that they got bit earlier in the week up near the middle grounds, then caught up with them around this spot on Friday.

Unlike rockfishing where the fish are congregated in a spot related to structure, these fish are powering along in fast moving schools.  The captains are relying on visual signs, their sonar, and years of experience on the water to connect with them.  When found, they try to run over the top of the school, then dump bait to get the school’s attention and hopefully keep them near the boat.  After that, it’s our job as anglers to connect fish to hook and get them in the boat.  Sometimes it’s wide open, the timing comes together, and things work perfectly.  Sometimes the captain is anticipating the moves of the school and hoping to connect as they pass through a spot.  It’s an inexact science.  In the morning, the fish were winning.

Successfuly released this flea cod

Successfuly released this flea cod

It was cold and overcast.  We moved around spots off the south island and nothing was working.  I switched up jigs thinking that maybe a darker pattern might be better.  I put on a 6x Jr in birdpoop, but it didn’t matter.  I learned later from Capt. Steve that he wasn’t getting any strong signals all morning.  He was seeing ones or twos, but no big schools.  We pushed south another 6 miles or so to The Rockpile and tried again.  People were getting restless and rockfished.  A couple anglers got lucky and scored decent sized ling cods.  I tied a reverse dropper on my bait stick and scored a trophy flea cod (calico rockfish) on a ‘chove.  It was after 1 now.  The sun was starting to peek out and we went back on the chase.  We headed north toward the south island.

On the move, I re-rigged my yo-yo setup.  Maybe a brighter pattern with the sun out now?  I tied on a blue and white CP 105.  All of a sudden an excited Capt. Steve was barking over the intercom.  “Dump a lot of bait!”  he yelled to Karen up on the bait tank.  “Get ready guys, we’ve got a good school.”  I was on the port side and casted toward the bow as the boat slid forward.  My line dropped in and worked its way back toward the stern.  It hit bottom and I started to grind…1-2-5…I’m bit!

Got a fork

Got a fork

The fish took me up the rail toward the bow.  Scott was right next to me clearing the way.  We got over and around the anchor and started to work down the other side toward the stern.  I ended up back where I started when I saw color.  I got him to the surface.  The fish was pretty spent and I laid him out for the gaff.  Scott stuck it and the boat skunk was off.  John would give me a hard time later for having to go all around the boat.  My response, “I just wanted to make sure everyone saw me. 😉 ”

Another angler got one on a full size 6x in blue white.  A lady got bit in the stern on a dropper loop sardine, but lost it.  One more angler got bit and got his fish.  That was it and we ran out of time.  On the way home, I learned that the San Diego got one and the Malahini got blanked.  Rough day.  Sunday no yellows for any of the boats.  There was a lot of boat pressure out there.  Besides the three 3/4 day boats, there were a lot of private boaters chasing us around.  These fish are still hanging around, and I’m certain these talented captains will find them again.  Give us a Like on the Facebook page to stay on top of the day to day action.  Tight lines!

EDITORIAL NOTE: The San Diego was boarded by the Mexican Navy last Friday.  They checked the anglers’ fishing permits and were done.  No issues.  It appears that it is indeed business as usual.

Last one of the day.  She was the one who lost hers.

Last one of the day. She was the one who lost hers.

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