So, the fish are showing in good numbers already. The sport boat fleet out of San Diego continues to have great scoreson bluefin from 25-200 pounds. The islands are coming alive with yellowtail, great bass bites, and the white seabass are chewing. We’re hopeful that bonito that showed consistently last year will do it this year as well. The squid havebeen around a bit more than the last couple of years, and that should help the cause.
It’s a great sign to see more of that smaller bluefin mixed in, suggesting a good future for this fishery. Of course, the jumbos are spectacular, but we hope for a long, long life with this new tuna era. As our water cools, we expect more squid and an- chovy to return; that the old So Cal bight will return to what it used to be. To some that sounds terrible, to most of us that grew up on bonito, albacore and barracuda it sounds like paradise.
As we move through spring and into early summer tackle preparation becomes critical. Get out the tackle now before things go crazy and it’s tough to get product. Hit your local tackle store and get hooks, weights, lures, new rod and reel, the things that will be on your list soon but may not be attainable. Make sure any reels that need to be serviced get into the shops quickly. Check your rods for eye damage, or reel seat issues. You do not want to find out there is a drag issue or a cracked eye while fighting the fish of a lifetime this season.
Preventative maintenance with your own vessel is also of utmost importance. If you “wait” for things on your boat or trailer to break, it almost certainly will be at the worst possible time, as in when you’re offshore just short of the area or in the middle of a great bite.
On the other hand, the unforeseen is a reality in a salty world. Boom! The boat won’t start as you try and catch back up to the school. Suddenly, you have to change directions. You’re going to need to be towed in. Did you renew your TowBoat US membership? That’s another consideration here in the early season.
For those of us running boats, now is the time to re- place batteries, check wiring, make some closer (short- er) shakedown trips before you start running full speed offshore. Check, and if needed, replace all your pumps. I normally replace my bait pump every season before we start to get into aserious regimen. If I don’t replace, they tend to break mid-season—virtually every year. As they say, no time better than the present.
Things we don’t use regularly are just the things that should get our close attention now. We should be go- ing through our safety equipment, making sure the flares are up to date, life jackets are in good shape and your EPIRB’s are within date as well. If you have life rafts, check those dates as well. Most of us have ditch bags with hand-held VHF’s, so try them out, get a radio check on all your radios.
If you trailer, do your yearly maintenance today. Check the tires, brakes (and fluids), make sure the bunks are in good shape. Get under there and make sure the bolts are all tight. You don’t want to discover a trailer problem while you’re backing down the ramp, and the radio chatter is on fire.
Get ready because 2022 is going to be another great one!