Albacore are also known as longfin tuna because of the sweeping pectoral fins that make the prized fish look like it’s sailing through the deep blue water it likes to call home.
Albacore have long been the determinant between a successful offshore season and a bust for the Southern California fleet, since the fish are both tasty and eager biters when conditions are right. Albies, as they are also known, used to migrate up inside of the Channel Islands, but it’s believed they have been pushed outside by the poor water quality in the San Pedro Channel. The majority of the catch is made between San Clemente Island and San Quintin on high spots like the Mushroom and Butterfly banks, 1010 Trench and Double 220s. When the longfin miss SoCal in their annual 10,000-mile trek around the Pacific, they usually show up just off the coast of Oregon and Washington. In a really good year they will be everywhere.
While the Northwest fleet uses trolling lures and swimbaits for the bulk of its albacore catch, it’s all about live bait out of San Diego, the main point of departure for summer trips and home to the largest sportfishing fleet in the world. A lively bait fished on a premium fluorocarbon like Seaguar gets the most bites and ringed Owner hooks are the choice of the hot sticks. Whether the bait is an anchovy or a sardine, the key is to choose a hook size that seems just a bit small when pinned to the bait.