To date, the 2023 Southern California fishing season has had cooler water than in recent years, but the past week has seen water temperatures increase to where there are currently areas with water temperatures that are as warm as 71.5 degrees.
What has been exciting for offshore anglers is that the recent warming of the water has been accompanied by an increase in the numbers of yellowfin tuna biting offshore and has also coincided with a few dorado arriving in offshore waters. Coastal and island anglers have also enjoyed improved fishing for some of the near-shore species in step with the warming of the water.
In offshore waters the good fishing for bluefin tuna continues and there is now a chance at more variety in a day of offshore fishing with the increase in yellowfin tuna and dorado activity.
There are two main areas that are producing most of the tuna. The more northern sector is producing good catches of what are mostly 40 to 180-plus pound bluefin tuna and an occasional yellowfin tuna in spots ranging from the deep water outside of the back side of Catalina, out to the waters above the West End of San Clemente Island and from that area on up to the Osborn Bank. Specific productive spots within that zone have been the 499 Spot, Snail Bank, the deep water outside of the Farnsworth Bank, the area to the southwest of the West End of Catalina, the area to the east of the Osborn Bank and the area out to the west-northwest of the West End of San Clemente Island. A recent 2 day trip aboard Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing saw 31 anglers catch 65 bluefin tuna that ranged in size to 183 pounds.
The more southern bluefin sector is producing good numbers of 20 to 40 pound bluefin along with a few bigger bluefin to 100-plus pounds. This area is also producing good numbers of 15 to 40 pound yellowfin tuna along with an occasional dorado. Productive areas in the southern sector have been around some of the offshore banks below and outside of Los Coronado Islands such as the 371 Bank, 425 Bank, 101 Spot and 475 Knuckle. The area around and about the 425 Bank has been the best in recent days.
Bluefin have been biting both day and night with the night time hours often providing the best fishing. Flylined sardines, sinker rigged sardines, kite fished flying fish, knife jigs, trolled Nomad Madmac jigs and slow trolled sardines have been productive for bluefin. Yellowfin have been biting on sardines fished around kelp paddies, porpoise schools, bluefin stops, yellowfin trolling stops and spots of working tern birds. Cedar plugs have been reported to be working well on the troll for the yellowfin. Most of the dorado activity has been found around kelp paddies and the few dorado that have been hooked have been caught on sardines.
The recent warming of the water has seemingly lit a fire under the surface fishing at Los Coronado Islands with very good mixed bag fishing being reported for yellowtail, barracuda, calico bass and assortment of bottom fish species. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished a recent trip to Los Coronado Islands and had 26 anglers on a full day trip catch 27 yellowtail, 70 barracuda, 40 whitefish, 17 sculpin, 12 rockfish, 9 calico bass and 2 lingcod.
The Middle Grounds, Pukey Point and the north end of South Island have been the best areas for the surface fishing around Los Coronado Islands with the South Kelp, Rockpile and the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island also producing some surface fishing action.
Sardines and surface iron have been working well for barracuda and yellowtail with yo-yo iron also being worth a try for the deeper water yellows off North Island. Good choices for surface iron have been Tady 45 or Salas 7 X light jigs in blue and white or sardine colors. Good choices for yo-yo iron have been Salas 6X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white, blue and chrome and scrambled egg colors. Also worth a try for yellowtail has been to troll X-Rap Rapalas when looking around for something to stop on and fish with sardines or iron.
The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands continues to be very good for a mix of reds, rockfish and whitefish along with a chance at a bonus lingcod. The best areas for the mixed bag bottom fishing have been to the northwest, north and northeast of North Island in 25 to 60 fathoms.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for rockfish and calico bass and also produces an occasional yellowtail, white seabass, halibut or barracuda. Good news has been that anglers have seen an overall increase of the surface fishing activity with the recent warming of the water.
Yellowtail continue to occasionally show at La Jolla and there have also been occasional showings of yellowtail at the Barn Kelp area off Camp Pendleton. Most of the yellowtail activity at the Barn Kelp has been incidental to the fishing for calico bass with most of the yellowtail activity at La Jolla tending to be found around bait balls.
La Jolla has been the overall best zone for surface fishing activity in the San Diego region and in addition to a chance at a yellowtail, La Jolla has been producing good numbers of calico bass, an occasional barracuda and an occasional white seabass. A recent half-day trip on the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing saw 50 anglers catch 2 white seabass, 1 rockfish, 39 calico bass and 100 calico bass that were released.
Calico bass have been producing most of the surface fishing activity up and down the San Diego County coast and the most productive areas have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, Sunset Cliffs, La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp and San Onofre.
The fishing for an assortment of rockfish species continues to be very good at numerous coastal and offshore rockfish spots. Good reports continue to be made by boats fishing areas such as the hard bottom to the southeast and to the northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the 9 Mile Bank, the 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Box Canyon, the 14 Mile Bank and the 60 Mile Bank.
Halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast has be in the fair to pretty good range with an occasional legal sized fish being caught off Imperial Beach and at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL tower or the structure of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach. A good depth range off Imperial Beach has been 37 to 41 feet and 50 feet has been a good depth to drifting in off Mission Beach.
Other areas where you might want to try for halibut have been inside of San Diego Bay, at the end of the sunken jetty off Coronado at the entrance to San Diego Bay, off Black’s Beach, off South Ponto Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, off the Golf Ball and off of San Onofre.
The recent warming of water temperature has put the summer fishing in full swing. Continued warming of the water is anticipated and anglers are hoping that warmer water will bring even better fishing than the fine fishing that is being enjoyed right now. I hope you are able to get out on the water as much as possible so you can enjoy the summer fishing season. 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 email@example.com.