Bluefin tuna have been providing Southern California offshore anglers with some fun fishing for the past few months but things are getting even better with a recent influx of yellowfin tuna that are now biting in some of the same areas where anglers are targeting bluefin. When you add the chance at finding some kelp paddy yellowtail in offshore waters there is even more variety available out on the offshore fishing grounds. Anglers are hoping that even more species will soon be coming our way as the summer progresses in the way of dorado, skipjack, striped marlin and swordfish. I am sure some anglers (including myself) are still hoping for a showing of albacore in our local offshore waters and with the water being a bit cooler so far this year who knows what great fun might lie ahead.
The bluefin tuna are being found in two general areas. There is a northern sector where there are 25 to 200-plus pound bluefin biting in areas around and above the West End of San Clemente Island that include the 499 Spot, the Snail Bank, 4 to 12 miles northwest over to west of the West End of San Clemente Island and the Mackerel Bank.
The other main bluefin zone is more local to San Diego and has been producing 20 to 80 pound bluefin and is also producing a few yellowtail along with improving numbers of 20 to 60 pound yellowfin tuna. The past couple of days of fishing in this more southern zone have seen the bluefin move up closer to San Diego to where the best fishing in this southern sector is currently being found in the region of the 9 Mile Bank and the area ranging from 2 to 8 miles southwest to west of North Island.
Bluefin have had the tendency to bite best during night time hours but the day time hours can also produce good catches. Flylined sardines, sinker rigged sardines, kite fished flying fish, knife jigs, trolled Nomad Madmac jigs and slow trolled sardines have been working well for bluefin. The yellowfin have been biting on flylined sardines that are fished around kelp paddies, porpoise schools, in bluefin stops, in yellowfin trolling stops and around spots of working tern birds. Cedar plugs have been reported to be working best for yellowfin on the troll.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mixed bag of barracuda, yellowtail and an assortment of bottom fish species. Grande out of H&M Landing has fished some recent trips to Los Coronado Islands and on their most recent trip they posted a fish count of 22 anglers on a full day trip catching 5 yellowtail, 2 barracuda, 130 rockfish, 2 sheephead, 1 lingcod, and 48 whitefish. Grande had awesome barracuda fishing on their prior trip and had 13 anglers on a full day trip catch their limits of 65 barracuda along with 7 yellowtail, 3 lingcod and 60 rockfish.
The Middle Grounds has been the best area for the surface fishing and a couple of the other spots that have produced some good surface fishing have been the South Kelp and the north end of South Island.
Sardines and surface iron have been the top producers for yellowtail and barracuda. Tady 45 or Salas 7 X light jigs in blue and white or sardine colors have been good choices for surface iron. Also worth a try for yellowtail has been trolling X-Rap Rapalas while looking around for something to stop on and fish with sardines or iron.
The water temperature around Los Coronado Islands has been running from 63 to 66 degrees and looking for areas where you find the warmest and cleanest water with a downhill current flow should help in locating some surface fishing species.
The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been very good for a mix of reds, rockfish and whitefish and there have also been a few bonus lingcod biting. The best areas for the mixed bag bottom fishing have been hard bottom areas to the northwest, north and northeast of North Island in 25 to 60 fathoms.
Along the San Diego County coast, the past week saw some squid around to catch for bait at night at off Mission Beach, La Jolla, Torrey Pines and Del Mar. There was a bit of white seabass and yellowtail activity around at the squid bed areas but there was not much biting. During daylight hours there have been occasional showings of yellowtail at La Jolla but not much is being caught during the day time either or the night time.
The La Jolla yellowtail activity tends to be found in the region ranging from the outskirts of the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla on up to the upper end of La Jolla. The best depth range to locate yellowtail has been from 7 to 35 fathoms. Finding schools of bait within that depth range has been a key to locating some yellowtail.
A technique used by private boaters that has produced occasional yellowtail hookups is slow trolling with mackerel or sardines. Other productive yellowtail methods have been using surface iron, yo-yo iron or using sardines or mackerel that are either flylined or fished deep on a dropper loop rig.
In addition to La Jolla, other areas where there have been occasional yellowtail sightings have been the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the Barn Kelp and San Onofre. These areas from time to time have seen a bit of yellowtail activity but so far it has been hard to get them to bite.
A lot of boats fishing San Diego County coastal areas continue to focus on fishing for rockfish and there have also been some calico bass and sand bass biting at various kelp bed and hard bottom areas. Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that water conditions along the coast have gradually been improving and he reports finding water as warm as 67 degrees. Cacciola reports that the calico bass fishing has been improving as the calicos get more active with the warming water. Productive areas for the calico bass include 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 many of the traditional rockfish spots. Good reports have been coming in from areas such as the International Reef, 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 and the 60 Mile Bank.
Halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast has improved off Imperial Beach where a private boat made a recent catch of 7 legal sized halibut a couple of days ago and with another private boater reporting catching 4 legal sized halibut today. Last week there were also reports from 2 private boaters fishing off Imperial Beach who caught one legal halibut and two legal halibut that included a 31 pounder. A good depth range to be drifting in off Imperial Beach has been in 37 to 41 feet with sandy bottom areas adjacent to kelp stringers being good spots for drifting.
Other areas where you might expect to find some halibut active are inside of San Diego Bay, at the end of the sunken jetty off Coronado at the entrance to San Diego Bay, at the sandy bottom around the structure of the sunken NEL Tower and the structure of the Yukon shipwreck outside of Mission Beach, 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 above Oceanside and off of San Onofre.
The summer season is here and the fishing is picking up on a variety of species. Anglers are hopeful that the fishing will continue to improve with additional species migrating into local waters as the water hopefully continues to warm throughout the summer season. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.