Bluefin tuna continue to attract a lot of attention from Southern California anglers and the last few months have provided many days of good offshore fishing for both bluefin tuna and yellowtail. During that time bluefin have been found in offshore waters between Ensenada and San Clemente Island with the most recent good bite area being within 30 miles or so of Point Loma at some of the local offshore banks outside of Los Coronado Islands. The past couple of days have seen the bluefin action drop off to be just fair. The good news is that there are lots of bluefin still around and anglers are expecting better numbers of bluefin to start biting better at any time. In the meantime, even though the bluefin bite is not red hot at the moment, there are still some bluefin biting to go with good numbers of yellowtail that are being found around some of the offshore kelp paddies.
Areas that are currently producing most of the bluefin and yellowtail activity include banks that are in Mexican waters and U.S. waters and are the 425 Bank, the 371 Bank, the 302 Spot, the 224 Spot, the Corner and the area 4 to 8 miles southeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island. During the past couple of days, the 302 Spot, the 224 Spot and the area 4 to 8 miles to the southeast of Pyramid Head have been the best.
In other areas, there was a private boater who caught a 60 pound bluefin tuna that bit on a trolled Nomad Madmac jig that was trolled through a porpoise school at the 9 Mile Bank. A couple of banks that might be worth keeping and eye on up in the Catalina region are the 209 Spot and the 181 Spot as there have been reports of a few yellowtail starting to show around some of the kelp paddies in those areas. There was also a recent report about what were thought to be bluefin tuna that were being metered on the fathometer in an area of purple-blue color water located about 3 miles east of the 209 Spot.
The bottom line in considering the bluefin fishing is that there are still lots of bluefin around that have not been biting that well the past couple of days. My guess is that good numbers of bluefin will once again be up and biting well sometime soon.
During the days when the bluefin have been up and biting well it has been near limit to limit bluefin fishing for fish that have ranged in size from 20 to 180-plus pounds with a good percentage of the fish being up over 100 pounds. Bluefin have been biting both during the day and at night with the night time hours often providing the best bites. There have also been pretty good numbers of 5 to 15 pound yellowtail and a few Spanish jack biting around some of the kelp paddies in the same areas where bluefin have been biting.
Bluefin have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, working birds, breaking fish and trolling strikes. Once located, anglers have had success with knife jigs, dart jigs, flat fall jigs, sinker rigged sardines and flylined sardines. The past couple of weeks have seen an increase in trolling strikes on Nomad Madmac jigs that are being trolled at 12 to 15 knots.
Reports from Los Coronado Islands are of good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, barracuda, calico bass and an assortment of bottom fish species. As an example of the fishing, Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished a recent trip to Los Coronado Islands and they had a full day trip with 25 anglers catch 4 yellowtail, 5 barracuda, 21 calico bass, 1 sheephead, 15 sculpin, 7 rockfish and 125 whitefish. Another recent report from a private boater was that they caught a bunch of barracuda incidental to drifting for halibut along the lee of South Island.
For the surface fishing, try spots around the Islands such as Pukey Point, the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island, the South Kelp and the Rockpile. Fishing areas where you find your warmest and cleanest water will help in locating some surface fishing species. The water temperature around Los Coronado Islands has been running 61.5 to 63.5 degrees.
The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been 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 and north of North Island in 30 to 60 fathoms.
Along the San Diego County coast there has been yellowtail activity reported most every day at La Jolla but it has not been easy to get them to bite. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had some success with getting some yellowtail and other surface fishing species to bite on a recent afternoon half-day trip when 33 anglers caught 2 yellowtail, 2 barracuda, 1 bonito, 4 rockfish, 32 calico bass and 100 calico bass that were released.
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 has been from 40 to 80 feet of water with reports of there also being occasional showings of yellows in deeper water out to about 35 fathoms.
Most of the yellowtail are found around schools of bait and a technique used by private boaters that has started working lately is to slow troll with mackerel or sardines. Also productive can be surface iron, yo-yo iron or using sardines or mackerel that are either flylined or fished deep on a dropper loop rig.
There has also been occasional yellowtail activity report from other areas with yellowtail sightings reported from around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, at the Point Loma Kelp Beds, and up above Oceanside while fishing off the Barn Kelp and San Onofre.
A lot of boats fishing San Diego County coastal areas continue to focus on fishing for rockfish but more and more Skippers are fishing the kelp bed areas for calico bass and a chance at other surface fishing species such as barracuda, yellowtail and bonito. Try kelp bed areas such as Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad and the Barn. Looking for areas with your warmest and cleanest water where there is a steady downhill current flow will help in locating a productive kelp bed area for the calico bass, barracuda, bonito and a chance at a yellowtail.
The fishing for an assortment of rockfish species continues to be very good at various coastal and offshore rockfish spots. Good reports have been coming in from areas such as the hard bottom to the southeast 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 been fair with the best reports coming from boats fishing for halibut inside of San Diego Bay and by the end of the sunken jetty off Coronado at the entrance to San Diego Bay. There have also been reports of an occasional legal sized halibut caught while fishing the sandy bottom around the structure of the sunken NEL Tower and the Yukon shipwreck outside of Mission Beach. Other areas likely to produce a halibut along the San Diego County coast are Imperial Beach, Black’s Beach, South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the Golf Ball and San Onofre.
Chances are that the bluefin bite will come roaring back strong before this report even gets printed but the great thing to consider is that there are also other fun species to target be it offshore, at the local Islands or along the coast. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy some of the fun spring time fishing 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.