LocalFish Rap

Bluefin Tuna Move Closer To San Diego!

For nearly 2 months, Southern California anglers have been fishing an area of bluefin tuna outside of the stretch of coast between Punta Colnett and San Martin Island that were 90 to 130 miles from Point Loma. Some good news is that the past week saw bluefin show up and start biting in waters considerably closer to Point Loma out to the southwest of Ensenada. The past weekend saw bluefin biting in areas that were 60 to 80 miles from Point Loma and that is a welcomed movement of fish up the line. Southern California nglers are hoping that the bluefin tuna will keep on working their way up the coast to soon be biting in areas that are even closer to Point Loma.


In looking at the overall spring fishing season picture, the fishing remains good overall for a mix of what have been pretty good numbers of bluefin tuna and yellowtail to go with a good mixed bag of rockfish, reds, sand bass, calico bass, whitefish, sculpin and a few halibut. Southern California weather conditions have still been bit unstable with occasional weather systems moving through which have brought wind, high seas and a bit of rain. A prolonged stretch of nice weather would likely help with the continued improvement of the offshore tuna fishing and with the surface fishing for yellowtail, barracuda and calico bass at the local islands and along the coast.


It can be hit or miss in finding a good bluefin tuna bite. Most of the bluefin tuna have been in the 40 to 60 pound range. Some of the better fish counts over the past weekend start with Polaris Supreme out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had an early update from a 2 day trip of having 41 bluefin tuna aboard. They were still fishing at the time of that report. Pacific Dawn out of Fisherman’s Landing had a 2 day trip return with 24 bluefin tuna. Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing had a 2 day trip with 29 anglers catch 17 bluefin tuna. New Lo-An from Point Loma Sportfishing returned from a 2 day trip that saw 18 anglers catch 10 bluefin tuna and 8 yellowtail. H&M Landing had Legend get back from a 2.5 day trip that saw 25 anglers catch 18 bluefin tuna. H&M Landing also had Old Glory get back from a 2 day trip where 24 anglers caught 16 bluefin tuna. Vendetta2 out of H&M Landing got back from a 2.5 day trip that saw 15 anglers catch 19 bluefin tuna.


The best bluefin zone has been to the southwest of Ensenada in an area located 60 to 80 miles 168 to 175 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 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 with flylined sardines also working during the day.


The yellowtail fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been hit or miss but recent days have seen the development of a more consistent yellowtail bite. For example, the sportboat counts that I know of from boats that were fishing around Los Coronado Islands on Saturday, May 4 all included some yellowtail. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had 22 anglers on a full day trip catch 9 yellowtail, 6 sculpin, 101 whitefish and 26 rockfish. Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing had a full day trip with 25 anglers catch 19 yellowtail, 5 sculpin, 3 calico bass, 31 rockfish and 34 reds. San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had 35 anglers on a full day trip catch 4 yellowtail and 15 rockfish. Seaforth Sportfishing also had the 6 pack charter yacht El Gato Dos out fishing a full day trip with 5 anglers who caught 3 yellowtail and 22 rockfish.


The water temperature around Los Coronado Islands has been slowly warming and is currently in the 62 to 63 degree range. The Rockpile has been the best zone for yellowtail with some yellowtail activity also showing at the Middle Grounds. Iron has been working best for yellowtail with surface iron and yo-yo iron both being effective. Sardines have also produced some yellowtail when flylined or fished on a dropper loop rig.


The bottom fishing remains very good around Los Coronado Islands and the best areas for the mixed bag bottom fishing for an assortment of rockfish species 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 25 to 45 fathoms.


There has also been some yellowtail activity along the San Diego County coast with showings of what have been mostly 15 to 40 pound yellowtail being reported off La Jolla. La Jolla has been the best place for a chance at a coastal yellowtail but it has not been easy to get the yellows to bite. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing got some yellowtail to bite on a recent afternoon half day trip where 21 anglers caught 4 yellowtail, 34 calico bass and 40 calico bass that were released.


The yellowtail off La Jolla usually show or are metered around areas of bait and are often marked by working birds. The yellowtail activity at La Jolla is being found in 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.”


The key to finding yellowtail at La Jolla has been locating schools of bait. Yo-yo iron fished around yellowtail meter marks that are found around deep bait balls continues to account for most of the yellowtail hookups. 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.


Surface iron yellowtail hookups have been on the rise as the spring season has progressed and the water continues to warm. 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 yellowtail. Also effective have been mackerel and sardines when fished from a dropper loop rig or when slow trolled.


On the San Diego County coastal surface fishing front, there have also been some schools of short sized barracuda that have been biting off Point Loma. Most of the barracuda are short sized fish that must be released but anglers are hoping that some schools of legal sized barracuda will soon move in behind the shorts.


Hard bottom and structure areas up and down the San Diego County coast have been producing a good mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, sheephead, whitefish and an occasional halibut.


Productive areas for the sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, sheephead and whitefish 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.


Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center has just completed the repowering of Sea Star and is ready to resume fishing. Cacciola reports that the Oceanside Sea Center boats have been doing well on an assortment of rockfish and whitefish while fishing spots off Leucadia, Solana Beach and the upper end of Del Mar.


Rockfish fishing 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. There has also been good rockfish fishing in the Catalina Channel at the 14 Mile Bank.


There are some fair to sometimes pretty good numbers of halibut biting along the San Diego County coast and productive halibut areas include both San Diego Bay and Mission Bay. Productive areas in San Diego Bay have been drifting around the bait receivers, the sandy bottom around the end of the sunken jetty on the Coronado side of the entrance to San Diego Bay as well as the Coronado side of the main channel between the upper end of Harbor Island and the Coronado Bay Bridge. Down below the Coronado Bay Bridge also try drifting off National City and Chula Vista while on the National City and Chula Vista side of the channel.


Off Imperial Beach, try the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline as well as the sandy bottom areas adjacent to hard bottom spots outside of the Imperial Beach Pier. There have also been halibut biting off Mission Beach at the sandy bottom adjacent to the Yukon Shipwreck and adjacent to the sunken NEL Tower.


Further north, additional areas that have been producing an occasional legal sized halibut have been South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside. Also productive has been fishing around pipeline and structure spots in the San Onofre and Point San Mateo areas in 30 to 50 feet of water.


The spring surface fishing season continues to make progress with bluefin moving closer to Point Loma and with yellowtail biting better around Los Coronado Islands and showing most every day off La Jolla. The spring time fishing also remains very good for a mixed bag of calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, whitefish, sculpin and halibut. I hope you can take advantage of the spring fishing season before the summer crowds arrive. 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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