LocalFish Rap

Bluefin Tuna Continue to Highlight Late Spring Fishing!

Southern California offshore anglers have had bluefin tuna to target for the entire spring fishing season and the bluefin bite continues to impress as we approach the summer season. Bluefin tuna catches have included fish that have ranged from 20 to 240-plus pounds and what has changed throughout the spring season is that the areas being fished have moved up from the offshore waters outside of San Martin Island down in Mexican waters on up to where bluefin can now be caught in United States waters by boats fishing the areas of the Butterfly Bank and the 60 Mile Bank.

 

The bluefin bite can be hit or miss with regard to getting into a good bluefin stop but there are good bluefin stops being found most every day. Anglers need to keep in mind that when the bluefin are ranging in size to 240-plus pounds that catching just one fish can account for an angler’s fish of a lifetime.

 

Some of the standout fish counts from the past weekend saw Highliner out of Seaforth Sportfishing have 18 anglers on a 2 day trip catch 44 bluefin tuna, 7 bonito and 1 yellowtail. Seaforth Sportfishing reports that the bluefin on Highliner ranged in size to 150 pounds. Point Loma Sportfishing reports that New Lo-An was out on a 2 day trip that saw 24 anglers catch 45 bluefin tuna that ranged in size to 150 pounds. H&M Landing had Excalibur get home from a 2.5 day trip that saw 14 anglers catch 42 bluefin tuna that ranged in size to 150 pounds. Fisherman’s Landing had Tomahawk get back from a 2 day trip that saw 11 anglers catch their limits of 44 bluefin tuna. Most of their bluefin were reported to be in the 60 to 80 pound range with a few bigger fish also in the mix that were up in the 100 to 140 pound class. Fisherman’s Landing also had Pegasus catch limits of bluefin tuna on a 1.5 day trip when 12 anglers boated 24 bluefin tuna that ranged in size from 40 to 140 pounds. Fisherman’s Landing also had Pacific Queen get home from a 1.5 day trip that saw 32 anglers catch 47 bluefin tuna that ranged in size from 40 to 70 pounds.

 

The best bluefin zone is currently in United States waters around the western wing of the Butterfly Bank out between 55 and 60 miles 240 to 242 degrees from Point Loma. The nearby 60 Mile Bank has also been a productive zone that is also in United States waters. In Mexican waters, the region around and about the 390 Bank has also been a productive bluefin zone fishing 40 to 50 miles 205 to 208 degrees from Point Loma. What I am also hearing today is that some bluefin have biting in Mexican waters in the region below the 371 Bank which is just 32 miles 199 degrees from Point Loma.

 

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

 

The yellowtail fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been on the scratchy side of things with some cool and off color water moving around at the Islands. Good news is that there were reports of the water cleaning and warming a bit yesterday so there is reason to be optimistic about the prospects for improved yellowtail fishing sometime soon. There were a few yellowtail biting over the past weekend but it was just an occasional yellowtail that was being reported. There was one yellowtail that I know of that was within a sportboat count that was posted on Saturday, June 1. The yellowtail was caught on Vendetta 2 out of H&M Landing that had 21 anglers on a full day trip catch 1 yellowtail, 20 sculpin and 115 rockfish.

 

The best areas for a chance at a yellowtail at Los Coronado Islands have been the Middle Grounds, the area inside of the north end of South Island and the South Kelp area below South Island with the Middle Grounds being the best. 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. Fishing areas where you find your warmest and cleanest water with a steady downhill current flow should be a good tactic in trying to locate some yellowtail or calico bass.

 

Calico bass fishing has been pretty good around Los Coronado Islands and is showing signs of improving even more along with the improving water conditions. 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.

 

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 producing an occasional hookup. Also effective have been mackerel and sardines when fished from a dropper loop rig, flylined or 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. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing did catch a legal sized barracuda yesterday afternoon (Sunday, June 2) and anglers are hoping that some schools of legal sized barracuda will show up and start biting sometime soon.

 

Calico bass fishing at La Jolla has been improving after a recent influx of off color water slowed what had been an excellent calico bass bite.  The good news is that the water has been cleaning up and that the calico bass bite has improved with the improved water conditions. The June 2 afternoon half day trip aboard New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had had good calico bass fishing and also caught a legal sized barracuda as 50 anglers caught 52 calico bass, 13 rockfish, 1 barracuda, 1 sheephead, 1 sand bass, 30 barracuda that were released and 100 calico bass that were released.

 

Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that Sea Star is ready to go after repowering the boat with new engines and doing lots of renovations during the winter and early spring. Cacciola reported about a recent trip they did with the Dan Hernandez television show and he reported that they had a fun trip for a mixed bag of calico bass, sheephead, sand bass, whitefish, cabezon, sculpin and short sized barracuda.

 

Cacciola reported finding the fun fishing at hard bottom and kelp bed spots in 45 to 65 feet of water outside of Leucadia and Solana Beach. The water temperature was 63 to 64 degrees and he said the water was off color in the morning and that the water color kept cleaning up and improving as the day progressed. Cacciola said they were catching their fish using 5 to 6.5 inch sardines, sardine strips, strips of frozen squid and frozen shrimp. Cacciola also said that the other Oceanside Sea Center boats have also been finding good rockfish fishing while worked spots in 300 to 450 feet of water off Leucadia, Solana Beach and Del Mar.

 

In addition to the good calico bass fishing at the La Jolla kelp beds, calico bass fishing has been pretty good in other kelp bed areas up and down the San Diego County coast. Once the off color water conditions improve I expect that the calico bass fishing in all the kelp bed areas should improve and get to the point of being very good. As the water conditions improve look for the calico bass fishing to get even better at the Point Loma Kelp Beds, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and the Barn.

 

In addition to kelp bed spots, 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 a few 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 fishing season continues to produce good numbers of fish with bluefin tuna, yellowtail, calico bass, sand bass, rockfish, sculpin, halibut and whitefish among the species that have been providing the action. Some off color water at the Los Coronado Islands and at spots along the San Diego County coast has put a damper on the bite for some of the surface fishing species but at last report it appears that the water conditions are improving and that the fishing for the surface fishing species is improving along with the change in the water conditions. We have had and are having a good spring fishing season and things seem to be ramping up to have the spring season roll over into a great 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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