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Fishing Catalina

We departed from Huntington Harbor at 1A.M., bound for Catalina Island. The plan was to look for kelp paddies along the way, to go after the mahi mahi that had come up from Mexico along with the warmer waters, but we had just missed the bite by a week. Though we didn't bag any dorado or yellowtail, the trip was still a lot of fun, and we limited out on bonita.

After catching some calico bass just before sunrise, we decide to go look for kelp paddies off of the coast of Catalina. We reel in, anchor up, and head out.

Kelp paddies are hard to find, so every extra pair of eyes helps. We're also scanning for boils on the surface, whales, and flocks of sea birds that might indicate where the fish might be.

We spot some small whales and dolphins breaching the surface, but they're loosely grouped together. It doesn't look like there are any fish with them so we part ways.

We toss in a net full of bait and get our lines in the water next to a paddy in hopes of raising some big fish. Nothing is biting, so we return to the island.

Matt hooks into what he thinks is a tail...

...but ends up being a baby calico. Our bait is bigger than this fish!

Our sardines are too big for the perch and blue bass to swallow, but they like the frozen squid. So do the calicos.

We bag a sheepshead...

...and then all hell breaks loose. Boils appear all around us in every direction. Several large schools of bonita and barracuda swarm up and down the coast, attacking the balls of bait fish. The small anchovies breach the surface in an attempt to flee the ravenous predators. The carnage is an awesome sight to behold, and I am too busy to take a picture. If you have a line in the water, is is almost impossible not to get a fish on your hook! This is the very definition of "wide-open".

Bonita flop all over the deck, as we pull in fish after fish. The deck becomes a sticky mess of oily, dark blood. The fish stop going after our big sardines, so we switch to iron. Krocodiles and blue and white UFOs are like magnets to the bonita.

A seal is drawn to the commotion, and tries to get our fish as we pull them in. It's a race to keep our fish away from this persistent pest. Luckily, we're able to reel them in fast enough to land them intact.

We quickly fill up a sixty gallon cooler with fish, and then top off a separate 40 gallon chest. The boat looks like the scene of a crime, with blood spattered everywhere. We rinse the deck down every few minutes, but new fish just spurt more and more blood everywhere. We limit out on bonita, and decide to start heading home just before 4 in the afternoon.

On the way back, Alex clears what ends up as well over 50 pounds of fillets, and the trail of carcasses attracts a flock of seagulls. One of them goes after a cedar plug that we're trolling. Luckily, we're able to get it off the hook relatively unharmed and it flies away.

We come into port just after sunset, clean the boat and our equipment, and head home after a great day of fishing at Catalina.

Comments (5)


You guys should have kept some of the bonita whole and gone back out thursday, friday or saturday. Temp is suppose to go up into the ninties with a 5 to 7 degree increase in water temp. Talking to my friends in San Diego this weekend and a lot of them are heading to Cat for Marlin.

Wow - Gorgeous pictures. Looks like a great time. Not too much of that here in the Lou.


good to see the abundance of bonito in SoCal. For a while, they were gone like the sardines in the 80's. Cyclical - like dang near everything else.


Too bad we were too busy fishing to take pictures of the couple hundreds of yards of bonito/baries boiling. Fun stuff though :)

so much fun!!!

while I use to bonita shavings in japanese food, this is the first time seeing mr bonita in person. Thanks!

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