The Tuna Bite is On

by Dan Simmons

 Our recent experiences with Covid have caused many disruptions in public events and travel. Outdoor Conventions and banquets are no exception, but the conventions and banquets are back and scheduled for 2022. I look forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones this year.

I’ve just returned from another scouting trip to San Diego. This time to check the tuna fishing activity; the bite is certainly on and increasing. If you want the adventure of a lifetime, it’s time to plan.

I was able to become reacquainted with an old friend Frank Ursitti. I first met him when he was a charter boat captain and he’s now the new owner of H&M Landing, having taken over from our mutual friend Phil Lowbred. This was comfortable “small world” stuff that is often part of the fishing adventure. Frank then gave me the rundown on the season and the expanded opportunities at H&M, where in my youth I once worked as a deckhand.

As in the past, there are several options, and the odds of landing giant Bluefin or Yellowfin tuna increase with the amount of time spent on the water.

I like starting the season with a one-day trip to the Coronado Islands just south of San Diego, in Mexican waters. It’s a good way to get your sea legs, and stomach, in shape while catching a mixed bag of Yellowtail tuna, barracuda, cod and possibly Mahi Mahi.

Well-appointed boats leave early in the morning and you’re soon on the fishing grounds for a full day of action You return tired, with sore arms from landing fish, and ready for a good night’s sleep at a nearby motel. This is also a great family trip with lots of action and good food; my favorite is the galleys’ famous hamburgers.

All necessary rods and gear can be rented, but like most anglers, after a couple of trips, the gear fever sends me to Bass Pro/Cabalas for my personal medium-weight outfit. The folks in the tackle shop are familiar with what you need and take pleasure in helping you get ready.

On a recent one-day trip we boarded at sun-up and enjoyed the cruise south to the Coronado Islands. As the boat reached its fishing position off the Islands and the Captain dropped anchor he called out those welcome words “Drop your lines” as the crew threw out great quantities of live anchovies, as chum, in all directions.

The action was then fast and furious with multiple “hook-ups.” I felt a strong strike on my line and the fish immediately took off in a fast run as the line screamed off the reel throwing a fine cool, wet spray covering my glasses and face. I knew it was a big one as he dove deep to the bottom, but soon the line was able to be recovered as my arms and back reminded me that a bit more physical preparation was needed before I left home.

As the fish tired and came closer to the boat I called out “Gaff” and a deckhand “Deckie” was by my side ready to gaff it. As it was brought aboard my heart rate slowed a bit and I admired this twenty-pound Yellowtail. The crew has this down to a science and all I had to do was regain my breath, relax and let the adrenalin subside sufficiently to get fresh bait back into the water. The action is fast, exhilarating, and addictive with the anticipation of the next strike always there.

At the end of the day, we arrived back at the dock. Our fish were cleaned and packed. We were comfortably tired and headed for dinner followed by a good night’s sleep. It was a good day.

“The Tuna Bite is On” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times