SAN DIEGO一 The first two-plus weeks of January have provided some pleasant fishing conditions for Southern California saltwater anglers and some boats have been getting out on the water to take advantage of the good weather to do some fishing. The great news is the first two weeks of January have confirmed that bluefin tuna are continuing to winter in our local offshore waters. There were three sport-boats that I know of out fishing for bluefin on 1.5-day trips last weekend and they combined to catch eight bluefin tuna and 34 bonito.
Most of the bluefin catches made during the month of January have been made up of fish in the 30 to 80-pound range. With the offshore water temperature holding in the 59.5 to 60.5-degree range, we might well see bluefin in local offshore waters year-round if we continue to have such mild winter weather.
The past weekend also saw some sport-boats head down the Mexican coast for 1.5 and 2.5-day trips to the Punta Colnett region to target yellowtail, reds, lingcod, and an assortment of bottom fish species. What they found was excellent fishing for a mixed bag of reds, assorted rockfish, whitefish, sheephead, lingcod, and yellowtail.
Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing was out on a 2.5-day trip and they had 29 anglers catch 68 yellowtail, 22 lingcod, 179 reds, 84 rockfish, 51 whitefish, and 25 sheephead.
H&M Landing had Relentless fishing a 1.5-day trip that saw 20 anglers catch 125 rockfish, 35 whitefish, 31 lingcod, and 14 yellowtail.
The Punta Colnett region yellowtail included a good percentage of fish running about 14 pounds. The wintertime yellowtail activity in the Punta Colnett region tends to come from locating meter marks or sonar marks and then fishing with yo-yo iron or with live baits that are dropped down to the meter marks using a dropper loop rig. Seaforth Sportfishing reported that yo-yo iron was working well for yellowtail aboard Tribute and that the Salas 6X Jr. in the blue and white color combination was a hot jig.
Closer to San Diego, boats traveling into Mexican waters to fish for rockfish around Los Coronado Islands continue to do well on a mixed bag of reds and assorted rockfish. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has regularly been traveling into Mexican waters to fish for rockfish species around Los Coronado Islands. The catches on their extended half-day trips have reached limit levels on the best trips and on their most recent trip, New Seaforth had 22 anglers catch 145 rockfish.
A productive area for the rockfish fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island with a good depth range being in 30 to 50 fathoms. There has also been good fishing in deeper water as Seaforth Sportfishing has been suggesting being prepared to fish deep water by bringing tackle that includes some 16 to 20-ounce sinkers and an outfit with a rod that is capable of fishing those 16 to 20-ounce sinkers at depths down to 800 feet (133 fathoms).
There have been no recent reports about anyone trying to locate some surface fishing species around Los Coronado Islands. There has been 60-degree water to be found around Los Coronado Islands and with water that warm there is reason to think that there could be a chance of locating some January yellowtail or bonito.
Recent weeks have seen a bit of yellowtail and white seabass activity along the San Diego County coast with occasional yellowtail being caught by boats fishing off Pacific Beach and La Jolla and with an occasional white seabass also being caught incidental to fishing for yellowtail off Pacific Beach. The fishing for yellowtail and white seabass has been very much hit or miss but there have been occasional showings of yellowtail in both areas. Most of the white seabass activity has been found at times when anglers are dropping down baits or iron to fish yellowtail meter marks.
Yellowtail have been located by finding spots of breaking fish, sonar marks, or meter marks with yellowtail tending to be found around schools of mackerel, porpoise, and spots of working birds. A good depth range has been in 18 to 32 fathoms. Best bets for yellowtail have been surface iron or yo-yo iron with mackerel or sardines also getting bit when flylined or when fished deep on a dropper loop rig.
Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual month rockfish and groundfish closure went into effect in U.S. waters 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 to fish for the various rockfish and groundfish species 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. A reminder is to make sure you get your 2022 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 of the annual two-month rockfish and groundfish closure is focused on targeting calico bass, sand bass, and sculpin by fishing hard bottom and structure spots. The Imperial Beach Pipeline has been one of the better areas since the two-month closure period started and has been producing good mixed bag fishing for 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.
The halibut fishing continues to be slow. Areas, where there has been occasional halibut activity would be spots you might want to try to catch a halibut. The spots 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 off to a good start with bluefin tuna among the list of species available to target within the 1.5-day range of Point Loma. I hope you can get out on the water and enjoy some of the fun fishing that the winter months have to offer. 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.