LocalFish Rap

Bluefin Tuna and Yellowtail are Biting Offshore!

After a winter and an early spring that saw lots of rain, wind and high seas, Southern California anglers have finally seen a stretch of decent weather conditions. The good news is that the stretch of good weather has been accompanied by good fishing for a mix of bluefin tuna and kelp-paddy yellowtail. Sportboats have regularly been returning with near limit to limit catches of bluefin that sometimes have a some 10-to-15-pound yellowtail in the mix. The past week has seen some private boaters out on the tuna grounds catching some bluefin tuna and yellowtail as well.

The bluefin have been ranging in size from 15 to 150-plus pounds and they have been biting during both the daylight and the nighttime hours with the best catches tending to come from sonar marks found during the dark. Knife jigs, sinker rigged sardines and Flat Fall jigs have worked best for the bluefin during the dark.

During daylight hours bluefin stops have been coming from stopping on sonar marks, meter marks, spots of breezing fish and the occasional trolling strike. During daylight hours bluefin have been biting on flylined sardines, Colt Snipers as well as blue and chrome color Salas 6X Jr.’s. The past few days have also seen some bluefin trolling strikes reported on Nomad Madmac jigs.

Be it day or night, sonar marks account for most of the bluefin stops and boats fishing with the aid of scanning sonar have had a big advantage over boats fishing with a traditional fathometer.

The water temperature where bluefin are being found has been in the 58-to-60-degree range. Bluefin have been biting in several areas that are within 45 miles or so of Point Loma with productive zones being the region outside of the Kidney Bank, the 230 Spot, the area between the 371 Bank and the 390 Bank and the San Salvador Knoll. There is also an area where there has been a better percentage of the larger 50-to-150-pound bluefin biting outside of Ensenada down between 54 and 62 miles from Point Loma in the region of the 385 Spot and the 475 Spot

The surface fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been slow in the 58-to-61-degree off-color water that has been around but there has been very good fishing for an assortment of reds, salmon grouper and other rockfish species. The best areas for the mixed bag bottom fishing have been to the northwest and north of North Island in 30 to 60 fathoms.

Occasional schools of yellowtail are being metered with the electronics around Los Coronado Islands so there has been a chance at scratching out a yellowtail. Most of the yellowtail activity has been found while working sonar marks found on the warm water side of temperature breaks found off the weather side of North Island.

If you locate some yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands, yo-yo iron has been working best with dropper loop fished sardines also producing an occasional hookup. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X, Salas 7X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg as well as blue and chrome colors.

Most boats fishing San Diego County coastal areas have been focused on fishing for rockfish since the seasonal rockfish/groundfish closure came to an end on April 1. The fishing at coastal and at offshore rockfish areas has been very good for boats fishing areas such as the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the 9 Mile Bank, the 60 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 San Clemente Island.

There has also been a mix of sand bass, sculpin and whitefish biting at hard bottom and structure areas along the San Diego County coast. Productive areas for sand bass, sculpin and whitefish as listed from the south to the north include the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp below the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Anderson Pipeline, the Buccaneer Pipeline, the artificial reefs off Oceanside and Box Canyon.

Yellowtail fishing along the San Diego County coast remains slow but there has been occasional yellowtail activity found at La Jolla. The 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 lower edges of the La Jolla Canyon in 18 to 35 fathoms.

Most of the yellowtail are located around schools of bait and the few bites tend to be had on surface iron, yo-yo iron and sardines or mackerel that are fished deep on a dropper loop rig. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in blue and white and sardine colors. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X, Salas 7X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg as well as blue and chrome.

There has not been much in the way of halibut biting along the San Diego County coast lately. A couple of private boaters recently tried for halibut off Imperial Beach and Mission Beach and reported finding 60 degree brown water and slow fishing.

There continue to be some halibut biting on live squid off Silver Canyon and the V’s at Catalina. In addition to halibut, Catalina has also seen a few white seabass biting on live squid at spots along the back side of the eastern part of the Island.

More good weather should allow the springtime surface fishing to continue to improve. It will be interesting to see what Mother Nature has in store as we get further into the spring. Bluefin tuna are already here and are biting! I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy some springtime fishing in good weather sometime soon. 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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