Tuna Fishing in San Diego: 10 Tips for Catching Bluefin
San Diego bluefin tuna fishing is world class, and can lead to utterly epic catches.
Tuna fishing San Diego waters is one of the ultimate deep sea fishing experiences, and there’s not an angler alive who wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of joining in on fishing charters or fishing boat rentals to target these huge apex predators. But taking on these beasts is no small task. If you hope to catch a bluefin, use these tips to help boost your chances of success.
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- Learn how to work a kite rig. Kite fishing has increased in popularity in recent years in no small part because it can be so productive. But it’s not easy to master kite fishing. Savvy anglers will take a few trips with a pro, before trying it on their own.
- Treat pre-trip gear prep seriously, because the tiniest little glitch or defect can result in defeat. Set your drags with a scale, not a best-guess; check all your leaders and rigs to be sure they’re in perfect condition; sharpen your hooks; and inspect every swivel, crimp, and snap.
- Carry a good pair of binoculars. Clues to the bluefin’s presence like diving birds, rips on the water’s surface, or isolated patches of rippling water can be spotted from much farther away with a quality pair of marine binoculars. Those with image stabilization and powerful magnification are best.
- When you’re fighting a fish and the line goes slack, don’t stop reeling — start cranking faster. Quite often bluefin will charge at the boat, and when an inexperienced angler suddenly feels slack in the line, they may think the hook has pulled free. In fact, that fish could still have the hook in its mouth. But if you don’t take in line rapidly and get tension back there’s a good chance it’ll shake the hook free.
- If a bluefin starts spiraling straight down, be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the line clear of the bottom of the boat. This may require shoving the rod tip right down into the water, or holding it as far out as possible. But don’t hesitate for a second, because if the line rubs against the boat it’ll usually snap right off.
- If you plan to rent a boat in San Diego, make sure you get one with sufficient fuel capacity to reach the fish and get home safe. Depending on the season bluefin may be found just a few miles from shore or they could be dozens and dozens of miles from land, so a fishing boat’s fuel capacity can be a critical limiting factor.
- Another tip for fishing boat rentals: remember that they don’t commonly come with the special gear needed for handling these fish, such as gaffs for landing them and big bag coolers for chilling them down. Make a careful inventory of all the gear you’ll need and be sure to bring it along.
- Remember that bluefin can be very leader-shy. If you know the fish are around and you’re not getting bites, an oversized or visible leader and/or hook is often the problem. For this reason, most seasoned bluefin anglers always carry fluorocarbon leaders and small hooks since they’re the least visible under water.
- When you see “breezing” bluefin (fish swimming right up on the surface but not actively attacking bait) and they turn down your offering, immediately switch lures and/or change the presentation style. It’s not uncommon to offer breezing bluefin multiple different lures without success, then discover that a different color, size, or retrieve speed triggers a strike.
- If you spot tuna but they seem scared of the boat and you can’t get close, back off and try to identify their direction of travel. Then position yourself so they will be headed towards you, shut down the engines, turn off your fishfinder, and go into stealth mode. If you can eliminate all boat noise they’ll often swim right by and you can present baits to the fish as they pass.
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Tuna fishing San Diego waters can lead to the best day of fishing in your entire life, or it can prove to be an exercise in frustration. And while you never know what the outcome will be when you shove off the dock, these 10 tips will go a long way in helping to tip the odds in your favor.
With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.