The 2022 Southern California offshore fishing season is just a few weeks away from rolling over into 2023 as offshore anglers are still able to go out and catch bluefin tuna and swordfish. There are not many boats out as it seems like a lot of people have put their gear away for the winter but those that are still fishing offshore waters continue to have a shot at some quality fish.
Bluefin tuna have been around and biting since the spring and the past week has seen near limit to limit catches of what are mostly 18 to 40 pound bluefin tuna biting for boats fishing on the anchor at the Tanner Bank. Other areas that are also located outside of San Clemente Island that have been providing a chance at a larger bluefin to 150 pounds have been in the region of the 381 Spot and the 267 Spot but the fishing in those areas has been slowing in recent days.
Closer to Point Loma there have been occasional showings of bluefin tuna to 100 pounds for boats fishing within 25 miles of Point Loma around the 302 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot. The bluefin in this more local zone have not been biting very well and the showings of bluefin in those areas have been on the decline.
The other offshore fishing opportunities have been for swordfish via the deep drop method using large squid for bait. There has been a recent improvement in the swordfish bite and productive areas include the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot, the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina and the area 3.5 to 8 miles off Newport Beach.
Private boater Ken Morris of Ken-Dandy fished aboard a swordfish deep drop charter trip with his friends Mark Backes and Frank Backes. Morris said they chartered Freeman 34 of Bight Sportfishing out of Fisherman’s Landing and that Captain Dylan was at the helm. Morris reported that they spent most of the day deep drop drift fishing for swordfish at the 9 Mile Bank and 178 Spot region and said they had no luck until 3:30 PM when their buoy rod got bit.
The 3:30 PM bite on their buoy rod resulted in a swordfish hookup that saw the fish come up jumping and putting on a show on the surface with a windshield wiper motion while it’s bill and head were out of the water. The fight with the swordfish started at 3:30 PM and lasted long into the dark with Morris and the Backes brothers each taking turns fighting the fish for 6 hours and 40 minutes until they were able to get it to gaff at 10:10 PM. There was good cause for celebration when they got the tail rope on the fish with what Morris described as some “primal screams” of joy. Back at the dock they weighed the swordfish which checked in at 203 pounds. Congratulations go out to Ken, Mark, Frank, Captain Dylan and any additional crewmembers aboard Freeman 34!
There have been very few boats out fishing around Los Coronado Islands lately but recent reports have been of good mixed bag fishing for bonito, calico bass, reds, rockfish, whitefish and lingcod. The majority of the recent reports have been about good fishing for reds and rockfish to the north and northwest of North Island in the 25 to 50 fathom depths. There have also been occasional spots of breaking bonito seen by boats that have been rockfish fishing in this same zone. The most recent report about the water temperature around Los Coronado Islands is that it has been in the 59 to 62 degree range and there has not been much yellowtail activity found in that cool water.
In addition to the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island, additional productive areas for the assorted bottom fish species have been the South Kelp Ridge and the Rockpile in the 25 to 45 fathom depths. These hard bottom areas around the Rockpile and at the South Kelp Ridge have been best for a chance at a lingcod.
The water temperature along the San Diego County coast has been in the low 60’s but the coastal fishing remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, bonito, sculpin, whitefish, reds, rockfish and an occasional bonus lingcod or yellowtail.
Yellowtail fishing along the San Diego County coast has been scratchy but there have been a few yellowtail caught in an area ranging from the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach on up to the ridge off Del Mar. Meter marks, bait balls and working birds have been leading to the occasional yellowtail hookup. Most of those occasional yellowtail hookups have been reported on dropper loop fished sardines or mackerel, yo-yo iron and surface iron.
Good areas for the assorted bottom fish species along the San Diego County coast listed from the south to the north have been the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, Sunset Cliffs, the 270, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad and Box Canyon.
Halibut fishing continues to be slow but if you want to give it a try, areas that have produced a few halibut along the San Diego County Coast in recent weeks have been Imperial Beach, the Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego Bay, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon shipwreck outside of 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 end of the 2022 Southern California offshore fishing season is just a few weeks away and it will be interesting to see if the 2023 offshore season starts producing fish come January 1. If strong northern weather systems continue to stay clear of Southern California the offshore bluefin and swordfish bites might well carry over into the New Year. Time will tell. Keep on fishing and I hope to see you out on the water!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.