SAN DIEGO⸺ Summer is here, and Southern California saltwater anglers are experiencing good fun fishing with a wide variety of species to choose from. Bluefin tuna to 200-plus pounds continue to bite in offshore waters and the fishing at Los Coronado Islands has improved providing very good fishing for a mix of calico bass, barracuda, whitefish, assorted rockfish species and yellowtail. Those fishing along the San Diego County coast have been finding very good fishing for calico bass, along with an assortment of rockfish species, sand bass, sculpin, and a chance at a nice-sized yellowtail, white seabass, or halibut.
Bluefin tuna continue to attract most of the attention with some jumbo-sized fish that have gone over 200 pounds. Productive areas have been within 40 miles or so from Point Loma and listed from the south to the north include the waters around and about the Upper Hidden Bank, the 475 Knuckle, the tip of the Upper Finger Bank, the 101 Spot, the 371 Bank, the 230 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 224 Spot and the 182 Spot.
The best bluefin fishing continues to be found in the dark with bluefin also biting during daylight hours. During the dark, bluefin have been biting best on sinker rigged sardines and knife jigs that are fished while boats are drifting over sonar marks or fathometer marks. During daylight hours, Flat Fall jigs, knife jigs, sinker rigged sardines, flylined sardines, Colt Snipers, poppers, surface iron and stick baits have been effective when fished around sonar marks, fathometer marks, breaking fish or breezing fish.
Trolling continues to producing a few bluefin during daylight hours with Nomad Madmacs, spreader bar rigs, Halco plugs, kite trolled Yummy Flyers, Nomad Slipstream Flyers and cedar plugs producing occasional bites on the troll. Of those choices, Nomad Madmacs and spreader bar rigs have been working best. One of the most interesting recent reports came from a private boater who caught five bluefin on Nomad Madmacs that were trolled around spots of working tern birds and spots of breaking fish at 10 to 14 knots of speed. Skippers would be well advised to watch their fuel consumption if trolling at 10 to 14 knots instead of the more traditional trolling speed of 7 to 8 knots.
Private boater Tom Parnakian of Ambush reported about fishing on a recent overnight trip aboard Pacifica out of Seaforth Sportfishing. They found some biting bluefin on the trip and had 21 anglers catch 4 bluefin tuna that went to 160 pounds. Parnakian caught one of the 4 bluefin which was an 80-pound fish.
Parnakian reported hooking his bluefin at 2 a.m. while they were drifting over a sonar mark and said that it bit on a 120-gram knife jig that had some pink color in it. He said he was able to drop down and reach the fish with the relatively light 120-gram size knife jig because of calm seas and a mild current condition. The bluefin grabbed the jig while it was sinking, and it took about 20 minutes to get the fish to the boat using 80-pound test and a 300-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Parnakian enjoyed the trip and had nothing but good thing to say about Pacifica, Captain Andrew Viola and his Crew.
The surface fishing at Los Coronado Islands has improved to now be producing very good mixed bag fishing for calico bass, barracuda, whitefish, reds, salmon grouper, rockfish and yellowtail. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing posted the best recent yellowtail count from Los Coronado Islands when they had 21 anglers on a full day trip catch 23 yellowtail, 42 calico bass and 10 barracuda. Malihini out of H&M Landing recently had 23 anglers out on a full day trip that caught 7 yellowtail, 115 calico bass, 25 barracuda, 46 rockfish, and 37 whitefish.
Yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands have been ranging from 10 to 20 pounds. Most of the yellowtail activity is being found scattered around at varied locations around the Islands such as North Island, the Middle Grounds, the weather side of South Island and the South Kelp. Fathometer marks, sonar marks and spots of breezing fish have been producing an occasional yellowtail on sardines or iron and there has also been an occasional yellowtail caught on trolled Rapalas.
When you locate yellowtail down deep try yo-yo iron and dropper loop fished sardines and when you locate yellows near the surface try surface iron and flylined sardines. Good choices for yo-yo 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.
The best areas for calico bass and barracuda have been at kelp bed spots around South Island at and the Middle Grounds. Sardines have been good bait for the calico bass and barracuda. Anchovies will also work well for the calicos when anchovies are available. The same surface iron jigs talked about in the paragraph above for yellowtail would also be good choices for barracuda.
About a week ago there were some halibut biting for a boat drifting sandy bottom areas in the lee of South Island but there has not been any recent news about halibut being caught around Los Coronado Islands since that time.
The best zones for the bottom fish species have been the Rockpile and at hard bottom areas to the north and the northwest of North Island. Whitefish have also been biting well in the lee of North Island. A good depth range for the rockfish species has been 20 to 50 fathoms.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good to very good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with a chance at catching a bonus yellowtail, lingcod, halibut or white seabass.
The white seabass fishing along the San Diego County coast has been picking up with nice sized fish biting that have gone up into the 50-plus pound range. Most of the white seabass have been caught on sardines incidental to fishing along the edges of the kelp beds for calico bass. Boats and kayaks fishing the upper end of La Jolla have also hooked white seabass while slow trolling with mackerel or sardines.
The two best areas for white seabass have been in the region of the Barn Kelp off Camp Pendleton and along the edges of the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla. Additional areas also providing recent white seabass activity have been Imperial Beach, the edges of the Point Loma Kelp Beds between the Lab and Point Loma College, Pacific Beach, Leucadia and the Anderson Pipeline.
The upper end of La Jolla has been the best zone to try for a yellowtail along the San Diego County coast and yellows have been located anywhere from the kelp line on out to 25 fathoms. The yellowtail biting at La Jolla have been good sized fish with a good percentage being up in the 15 to 20-pound range and with some bigger fish to 40-plus pounds also a possibility.
The yellowtail bite has been slowly improving but tends to be scratchy most days. Sardines, mackerel and surface iron have been good choices for yellowtail. Recent reports have been of yellows showing under working birds with a few yellowtail hookups reported on slow trolled mackerel and slow trolled sardines. Some of the best yellowtail reports have been from anglers fishing along the edges of the kelp beds with flylined sardines that are intended for calico bass. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7 X lights in blue and white, sardine and mint colors.
The halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast has been fair. Areas that have been producing an occasional halibut have been Imperial Beach, the Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego Bay, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon shipwreck outside of Mission Beach, South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs off Oceanside.
The calico bass bite has been very good at various kelp bed areas along the San Diego County coast. Good calico bass bite areas include the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the La Jolla Kelp Beds, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre. What continues to be important to finding a good calico bass bite is to find a kelp bed area where there is a downhill current flow with clean green or better looking water color conditions. When available, anchovies are the preferred bait for the calico bass which have also been biting well on sardines.
Most boats fishing along the San Diego County coast have shifted over to fishing for calico bass in the kelp beds instead of fishing hard bottom areas for rockfish but the fishing for rockfish remains good. The best areas for the rockfish fishing along the San Diego County coast 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.
Summer is here and there are a lot of good options to choose from in planning a day out on the water. I hope you take advantage of the good fishing going on and get out there and do some 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.