2022 Fishing Season Off to a Good Start!

SAN DIEGO一 Southern California offshore anglers saw a series of storms move through Southern California during the late part of December, but the weather cleared as the New Year approached allowing anglers to get back out on the water and do some fishing over New Years weekend.

I know of no boats that tried to fish offshore waters for tuna and swordfish.  Before the series of recent storms, there were good numbers of 20 to 35-pound bluefin tuna biting at the Tanner Bank and there was also a chance at catching a swordfish via the deep drop method while fishing at the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot.

The water temperature in areas producing bluefin and swordfish took a hit from the recent series of storms and the drop in temperature might well have been enough to have sent the fish packing and headed to warmer waters for the winter months. Before the recent series of storms, the water temperature out at the Tanner Bank was 61.5 degrees and has dropped to 58.5 degrees.

It is a similar story out at the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot with what was 61.5-degree water before the storms dipping to 59.5 degrees.  Maybe someone will go out and try the Tanner Bank, 9 Mile Bank, and 178 Spot to see if there are still some bluefin tuna or swordfish around. Even with 58.5 and 59.5-degree water, it would not surprise me much if there were still some bluefin tuna to be caught at the Tanner Bank and some swordfish to be found at the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot.

There have been no recent reports about surface fishing around Los Coronado Islands with few if any boats out giving it a try. There have been some boats fishing for assorted bottom fish species at hard bottom areas to the north and the northwest of North Island that have been catching a good mix of reds, salmon grouper, and assorted rockfish.

New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has started to run extended half-day trips to fish for rockfish in Mexican waters during the annual two-month rockfish and groundfish closure in U.S. federal and California state waters, which went into effect on Jan. 1. The most recent count on New Seaforth reflected a great trip with 29 anglers catching their limits of 290 rockfish. Productive areas have been found in a wide variety of depths ranging from 30 to 130-plus fathoms with Seaforth Sportfishing suggesting that anglers include a deepwater capable outfit that is able to fish depths to 800 feet (133+ fathoms) in the tackle that they bring.

Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual two-month rockfish/groundfish closure went into effect on Jan. 1. The closure will run through Feb. 28 and during the two-month closure period anglers will need to travel into Mexican waters if they want to fish for the various rockfish or groundfish species that are covered by the closure. During the closure period, skippers fishing in U.S. waters will be focusing on species that are not covered by the closure such as calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, halibut, yellowtail, and white seabass. Another reminder is to make sure you get your 2022 California fishing license before venturing out to do some fishing in U.S. and California waters.

Much of the fishing along the San Diego County coast during the cold-water months are targeting the calico bass, sand bass, and sculpin which is more often than not done at hard bottom and structure spots. The Imperial Beach Pipeline was a good spot over New Years’ weekend and produced a nice mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, and perch. Other productive hard bottom and structure spots that have been producing a mixed bag of fish are the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Lighthouse Ridge off the Point Loma Lighthouse, the Jetty Kelp hard bottom outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp hard bottom off Pacific Beach, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and Box Canyon.

There has been recent yellowtail and white seabass activity outside of Pacific Beach and La Jolla. There have been occasional showings of yellowtail outside of the upper end of La Jolla in 18 to 30 fathoms and there have also been some showings of yellowtail and some white seabass activity in 18 to 30 fathoms at the hard bottom area off Pacific Beach that is located below the MLPA closure zone.

Yellowtail showings are inconsistent but if you are in the right spot at the right time on the right day there is a chance at seeing some breaking yellowtail or metering some yellowtail below the surface and having a shot at a nice-sized fish. For instance, the showings of yellowtail were sparse over New Years weekend but the fish are showing better today as this report is being prepared with several nice-sized yellowtail and a nice-sized white seabass being caught by private boaters that have been fishing off Pacific Beach and the upper end of La Jolla.

Another nice-sized white seabass was recently caught by a private boater fishing off Pacific Beach. The private boater reported the white seabass was drifting and fishing meter marks of yellowtail when he had the good fortune of getting bit by a white seabass.

The best chance at yellowtail has been to be able to cast surface iron to breaking fish before they sound. Also productive has been to drop yo-yo iron to meter marks. Live mackerel and sardines have also produced occasional yellowtail bites when either flylined or fished on a dropper loop rig. A recent report from a skipper drifting and fishing for bass and sculpin over hard bottom off Pacific Beach was that they hooked a yellowtail on a flylined live bait that was fished by a rod sitting in the rod holder.

There is not much to report in the way of recent halibut activity.  Areas, where there has been occasional halibut activity in recent weeks that you might want to try, are Imperial Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach, the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs off Oceanside.

The 2022 fishing season is here and there is already good fun fishing to be found! Let’s hope the 2022 fishing season proves to be a good one!  I hope you can get out on the water and enjoy some of the fun fishing that January has to offer! Watch the marine weather forecast closely and choose the good weather days to do your fishing. Keep on fishing and I hope to see you out on the water sometime soon!

    Bob Vanian is the voice, writer, and researcher of the San Diego-based internet fish report service called 976-Bite which can be found at www.976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the telephone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number or at bob976bite@aol.com.

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