LocalFish Rap

Bluefin Tuna Catches Now Being Made in US Waters!

Recent bluefin tuna catches have generally been falling short of 2 fish limits but the bluefin fishing remains quite good when you consider that the catches have included bluefin that have ranged in size to 240-plus pounds and have included a good percentage of 100-plus pound fish. What is also encouraging is that schools of bluefin have continued to move up the coast to where there are now bluefin being caught in United States offshore waters in the region of the Butterfly Bank and the 60 Mile Bank.

     It can be hit or miss in finding a good bluefin bite but there are good stops found most every day on fish ranging in size from 20 to 240-plus pounds. Some of the better fish counts over the past weekend start with Highliner out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had a 1.5 day trip with 23 anglers return with 200 rockfish and 34 bluefin tuna. They got into some of the jumbo sized bluefin on this trip and had 25 bluefin that ranged in size from 100 to 240 pounds. Point Loma Sportfishing had New Lo-An get home from a 2 day trip that saw 23 anglers catch 39 bluefin that ranged in size to 180 pounds. H&M Landing had Legend get back from a 2.5 day trip with a catch of 25 bluefin tuna that ranged in size to 150 pounds. Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing got back from a 3 day trip that saw 22 anglers catch 94 bluefin tuna. Their catch included 31 bluefin that were up in the 110 to 200 pound range and the rest of their bluefin were in the 40 to 60 pound class.

    The best bluefin zone is currently around the 60 Mile Bank and the back side of the Butterfly Bank in an area spread from 55 to 63 miles 229 to 236 degrees from Point Loma. There have also been recent bluefin catches made in the area of the Upper 500 Bank, 295 Bank and 213 Bank with occasional showings of bluefin also reported within 45 miles of Point Loma in the region of the 390 Bank.

     Bluefin have been caught during the night and during the day with the night time fishing usually being the best. Knife jigs fished during the dark have been working best when dropped down to sonar marks and meter marks. Also try sinker rigged sardines during the night and the day, flylined sardines during the day and kite fished flying fish and kite fished sardines during the day.

     The yellowtail fishing at Los Coronado Islands is still hit or miss but is developing more consistency. The most recent sportboat trip I know of was aboard Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing that had 15 anglers on a full day trip catch 20 yellowtail and 5 calico bass. Their yellowtail catch included large yellowtail that ranged in size to 30 pounds.  Another recent sportboat trip to Los Coronado Islands was aboard Malihini out of H&M Landing where a full day trip with 26 anglers put together a catch of 7 yellowtail, 21 sculpin, 44 calico bass, 26 rockfish and 1 whitefish.

     The water temperature around Los Coronado Islands has been continuing to warm and is now running from 64 to 65 degrees. A good thing about the recent yellowtail fishing is that the yellows have been spread out with productive areas being the Middle Grounds, Pukey Point at North Island, the lee side of South Island, the South Kelp below South Island and the Rockpile. The Middle Grounds has been the best in recent days and a report from a Skipper who was recently anchored at the Middle Grounds was that they had yellowtail showing around the boat chasing their chum for nearly 2 hours. Try surface iron, yo-yo iron or flylined and dropper loop fished sardines for the yellowtail. A private boater might also want to try slow trolling nose hooked sardines at around 2 knots.

     Calico bass fishing is also improving at Los Coronado Islands. Smaller sized sardines and anchovies should be good live baits for the calicos. Try kelp bed areas around South Island and try both kelp and hard bottom spots at the Middle Grounds.

      The bottom fishing remains very good around Los Coronado Islands and 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. Also productive has been the rockfish fishing on the Mexico side of the border at the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank. Another productive rockfish zone has been at the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 25 to 45 fathom depths.

    There continues to be yellowtail activity along the San Diego County coast with showings of yellowtail being reported most every day off La Jolla. La Jolla has been the best for a chance at a coastal yellowtail but it has not been easy to get them to bite. The yellowtail at La Jolla are usually found around areas of bait and are often marked by working birds.

    A good depth for finding yellowtail activity at La Jolla is usually 8 to 30 fathoms with the 14 to 20 fathom depths often being the best. The best zones to try to locate yellowtail at La Jolla have been along the outskirts of the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla as well as outside of the upper end of La Jolla while fishing to the west of “The Hotel.”

    Yo-yo iron fished around meter marks that are found around deep bait balls accounts for a good percentage of the yellowtail hookups and good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white and scrambled egg colors. Colt Sniper style yo-yo jigs have also produced an occasional yellowtail.

    Fishing with surface iron is also an effective technique for yellowtail. A key to getting hookups on surface iron is to be able to get the jig to the fish that are up and working on the surface before they sound. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45 and Salas 7X light jigs in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.

     There have also been yellowtail hooked using things other than iron with trolled Rapalas also producing an occasional hookup. Also effective have been mackerel and sardines when fished from a dropper loop rig or when slow trolled.

     There have been some schools of short sized barracuda found off La Jolla and Point Loma but most of the barracuda are undersized fish that must be released. Anglers are hoping that some legal sized barracuda will soon be moving in behind the short sized fish.

      Calico bass fishing at La Jolla has been very good with some counts on the afternoon trips on the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing going up over 100 legal sized calicos. Their best recent count on calicos was on an afternoon half day trip that saw 31 anglers catch 140 calico bass, 4 rockfish, 1 sculpin, 3 sheephead and 100 calico bass that were released.

      Calico bass are becoming more active in kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast with improving calico bass fishing being found at the Point Loma Kelp Beds, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and the Barn. In south Orange County waters there have also been good reports about calico bass fishing at kelp bed areas off Point San Mateo and the San Clemente State Park.

      Hard bottom and structure areas up and down the San Diego County coast have also been producing a good mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, sheephead, reds, rockfish, whitefish and an occasional halibut. Productive areas for the mix of fish include the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre.

     Deeper water rockfish fishing also remains good in San Diego County coastal areas. Productive areas include the 9 Mile Bank, The 270 out to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon. In the Catalina Channel, there has also been good fishing for an assortment of rockfish at the 14 Mile Bank.

    There are fair to sometimes pretty good numbers of halibut biting along the San Diego County coast and productive halibut areas have been San Diego Bay, Mission Bay, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the sandy bottom areas adjacent to hard bottom spots outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, the sandy bottom adjacent to the Yukon Shipwreck and adjacent to 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 outside of Oceanside.

    The springtime surface fishing season keeps showing improvement on various fronts. Anglers wanting to take advantage of the spring surfaces fishing season are having a chance at good sized bluefin tuna offshore, yellowtail and calico bass at Los Coronado Islands and calico bass and a chance at a yellowtail in spots along the coast. Those wanting to fish for reds and rockfish and other bottom fish species are also finding good fun fishing for some excellent table fare. I hope you can take advantage of what remains of the spring fishing season. We are having a good spring and it looks like we could be headed for a fun summer! 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  HYPERLINK “mailto:bob976bite@aol.com” bob976bite@aol.com.

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