As Spring daytime temps slowly inch upward, I spend a couple of minutes a day logged on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s buoy weather and sea temp network, checking sea states and temperatures for San Diego. It’s a past time that leaves me hopeful enough to get my boat ready for the coming offshore yellowtail and tuna season— still several months away given low sea temps.
Growing up in east Los Angeles County, fishing San Diego waters was an occasional thing. I’d spend Thursday mornings looking over the Los Angeles Times Sport Fishing Reports drooling over stats showing high catch rates on all-day or overnight boats with light passenger loads. Occasionally, I’d arrange to take acouple of vacation days and head down to San Diego
to get a birth on an overnight albacore trip. I was seldom disappointed. And, I developed a taste for fresh smoked albacore.
Now, I live in San Diego and I’m much smarter about when and under what conditions I go fishing. More importantly, I also have my own boat and I now understand that if the sea temps are right around 70 degrees ,the bait fish are fining around the kelp beds that stretch from Ocean Beach to Torrey Pines, it’s time to hook the boat up, check to make sure the gas tank is filled and the drain plug firmly seated and get out on the water.
One of the big joys in my life, is trolling up the kelp beds and seeing my rod tip fly downward, and hearing the line go zipping off my line. There’s nothing quite like a the sensation of a tasty yellow tail screeching three or four yards of monofilament from your reel as you work the fish closer to the side of your boat. And as you manfully fight the fish in, you sometimes feel unseen eyes watching.
Then just as you reach down with your net, you senses are overwhelmed by blast of warm fishy smelling breath and watch a five-foot seal or even larger sea lion grab your fish and take off.I swear a little when it happens but end up smiling. The idea of a cunning predator that knows its lunch is but minutes away as it hides under my boat is just part of the mystique of San Diego offshore fishing.
The sea tamps need to come up about 18 degrees, and according to the fishing reports, the yellowtail schools are still about 120 miles south of me off the Baja California coast. But soon they’ll be here and when they are, my outboard will be tuned, I’ll have new 15-pound test on my favorite rod and reel and I’ll be out there in my Panga, catching yellowtail for the local pinipeds.—Jim Forbes 03/08/2009.