SAN DIEGO⸺ The past several days has brought a welcome break in the unusually breezy spring weather Southern California has had in recent weeks. The good news for offshore fishing is that the bluefin tuna have bit well in both breezy and more pleasant weather conditions.
The past weekend had good fishable weather conditions and anglers traveling down to fish offshore banks outside of Ensenada found the best bluefin tuna fishing with the top catches at near limit to limit numbers of bluefin. The main productive areas were for boats fishing around and about the 238 Spot and the 450 Spot between 62 and 72 miles 168 to 170 degrees from Point Loma.
Closer to San Diego, there have been fair numbers of bluefin tuna biting and good numbers of kelp-paddy yellowtail biting for boats fishing spots within 40 miles or so of Point Loma such as the San Salvador Knoll, the 230 Spot, the Corner and the 43 Fathom Spot. Most of the fish in this more local sector have been coming from 27 to 42 miles 225 to 260 degrees from Point Loma.
The bluefin tuna have ranged in size from 20 to 265 pounds with some days seeing mostly 25 to 60-pound bluefin biting and with other days having it be mostly 60 to 150-pound bluefin biting. The dark hours of a 24-hour day have been providing the best bluefin bites with some bluefin biting during daylight hours as well.
In the dark, bluefin have been biting best on knife jigs. Flat fall jigs and sinker rigged sardines have also been effective during the dark. During daylight hours, flat fall jigs, knife jigs, sinker rigged sardines, flylined sardines, Colt Snipers, poppers, and stick baits have been effective. Trolling has also produced a few bluefin during the daylight hours with spreader bar rigs, Halco plugs, and cedar plugs working best on the troll.
At Los Coronado Islands there have been a few boats with recent reports of surface fishing being hit or miss for a few yellowtail and fair fishing for calico bass. The bottom fishing remains good for a mix of reds, whitefish, salmon grouper, an assortment of rockfish and an occasional lingcod.
Recent reports have found off-color water around Los Coronado Islands, Skippers expect that fishing for yellowtail and other surface fish species will improve once the water conditions improve. Most of the yellowtail activity has been found around North Island and at the Middle Grounds. Meter marks and spots of breezing fish have produced an occasional yellowtail on sardines or iron and there has also been an occasional yellowtail caught on a trolled Rapala.
Yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands have been ranging from 12 to 25 pounds. Try yo-yo iron and dropper loop fished sardines when you locate yellowtail down deep and try surface iron and flylined sardines when you locate yellows near the surface. Good choices for yo-yoed iron include Salas 6X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in the blue and white color combination and in scrambled egg colors. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in the blue and white color combination, mint and sardine colors.
There have been a few calico bass biting at kelp bed areas around South Island and the best zones for the bottom fish species have been around the Rockpile and at hard bottom areas to the north and the northwest of North Island. A good depth range for the bottom fish fishing has been 20 to 50 fathoms.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin, whitefish, and an occasional lingcod. Good news is that there has also been recent improvement in the coastal fishing for yellowtail, white seabass, and halibut.
The upper end of La Jolla has been the best zone to try for a yellowtail along the San Diego County coast. The yellowtail biting at La Jolla have been good-sized fish with a good percentage being up in the 20 to 40-pound range. A recent afternoon half day trip aboard the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a catch that included 4 yellowtail up to to 44 pounds. Seaforth Sportfishing reports that they have had most of their yellowtail bites while using flylined sardines or surface iron.
Private boaters have also been picking up an occasional nice-sized yellowtail with one Skipper reporting catching 2 large yellows that bit on slow trolled mackerel and another reporting catching 2 large yellows that were caught on plastics while they were targeting calico bass. Most of the yellowtail activity has been found off the upper end of La Jolla in depths ranging from the kelp line out to 25 fathoms. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7 X lights in blue and white, sardine, and mint colors.
White seabass activity has also improved along the San Diego County coast with the past weekend seeing a few legal-sized white seabass biting incidental to fishing kelp bed areas for calico bass. On Saturday there were 2 legal sized white seabass caught by boats fishing along the kelp line at the upper end of La Jolla and another was reported to have been caught by a boat fishing along the kelp line off the Green Tank at Point Loma. The white seabass were caught during daylight hours and were biting on sardines.
The slow spring halibut fishing of recent weeks along the San Diego County coast has also shown recent sparks of improvement with the past weekend seeing several private boaters reporting catching legal sized halibut. There were a few boats that reported having caught 2 legal sized halibut while drifting the sandy bottom near the structure of the sunken NEL tower off Mission Beach and while drifting the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach. Another report of 2 legal sized halibut came from a Skipper fishing in San Diego Bay and another nice-sized halibut was reported to have been caught outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma. Additional areas that have produced halibut activity in recent weeks that you might want to try include Imperial Beach, South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs off Oceanside.
Calico bass fishing in the kelp beds has also been on the upswing. The kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla have been the best but the bite in other areas has also been improving. In the Point Loma area, try kelp bed spots such as the Lab, Green Tank and Point Loma College. Going further north, try the kelp beds at the Roundhouse at Sunset Cliffs, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre.
Fishing for rockfish has also been good. The best areas for rockfish fishing along the San Diego County coast as listed from the south to the north have been the International Reef, the hard bottom to the west of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, and Box Canyon.
With the windy spring weather to ease a bit, the spring fishing season is starting to improve and become more “spring like” in nature. Anglers have a good number of prime species to choose from in planning a day of fishing be it offshore, at the Islands or along the coast. I hope that the windy weather continues to back off and that you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy 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 email@example.com.