LocalFish Rap

Bluefin Tuna, Yellowtail, White Seabass, Calico Bass and Halibut are Providing Highlights Heading into the Summer Season!

The beginning of summer is just a few days away and Southern California anglers are seeing things shaping up to provide reason to be optimistic about the prospects for a great summer fishing season.


Bluefin tuna continue to lead the way with the better days and nights of fishing providing near limit-to-limit fishing on bluefin that have been ranging in size from 20 to 240 pounds. Anglers have also started to see better numbers of kelp paddy yellowtail biting incidental to fishing for bluefin and it is nice to have some variety starting to enter the picture.  As the summer season progresses yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack and striped marlin are likely to show up in local offshore waters and add even more variety. With some slightly cooler water around our offshore banks so far this season, who knows, maybe some albacore will pay us a visit this summer as well.


The bluefin tuna fishing can be hit or miss as to getting into a good bite with the fish moving around quite a bit and being up and down. Some of the hit or miss nature of the bluefin bite has to do with the fact that a lot of the best bluefin bites are being found during the dark. The current best bite areas are in the region of the 213 Bank, the top of the 1010 Trench and the Upper 500 Bank for boats fishing from 50 to 60 miles 188 to 200 degrees from Point Loma. A few days ago, there was also a good bite on the bigger sized bluefin closer to Point Loma for boats fishing in the region of the tuna pens that were in the region of the 425 Bank located below and outside of Los Coronado Islands but that bite has since slowed. The past 2 days have also seen some bluefin showing even closer to Point Loma in the region of the 9 Mile Bank and anglers are hoping that those fish will settle into the area and start biting.


Bluefin have been caught during the night and during the day with the nighttime fishing usually being the best. Knife jigs fished during the dark have been working well when dropped down to sonar marks and meter marks. Also effective during the dark and the day has been sinker rigged sardines and sinker rigged frozen flying fish. Flylined sardines and knife jigs have also worked well during the day along with kite fished flying fish and kite fished sardines.


The surface fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been improving with a mix of yellowtail, calico bass and barracuda biting. In addition, the bottom fishing for a variety of rockfish species remains excellent and some halibut have been biting as well. The most recent sportboat fish counts are from June 15 and start with Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing having 25 anglers on a full day trip catch 6 yellowtail, 15 rockfish and 11 calico bass. Vendetta 2 out of H&M Landing was out the same day and had a full day trip with 23 anglers catch 13 yellowtail, 6 sculpin, 12 calico bass, 1 sand bass and 5 triggerfish.


The water temperature around Los Coronado Islands has been running from 64 to 65 degrees and most of the off-color water that has been around in recent weeks has now cleared out of the area. The Middle Grounds has been the best area for a chance at a yellowtail and has also been producing some calico bass and a few barracuda. Other productive yellowtail areas have been Pukey Point at North Island, the area inside of the north end of South Island and the South Kelp below South Island. Try for calico bass around Pukey Point, at the Middle Grounds, at the north end of South Island and at the South Kelp below South Island. 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.


The Marlin Club in San Diego recently held their Don Blackman Memorial Halibut Derby, and the report was that there was good halibut fishing found at Los Coronado Islands. The tournament had 19 boats participating with the biggest halibut being a 34 pounder and the second-place halibut weighing 23 pounds.  The sandy bottom along the lee side of South Island has been a good zone with one boat recently catching 5 legal halibut to 12-plus pounds from that area. Another good halibut zone at the Coronados is fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to the hard bottom and the kelp at the South Kelp below South Island.


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 a chance at catching a yellowtail at La Jolla with the late afternoon and evening hours being the time of day when the yellowtail have been most active. The yellowtail activity at La Jolla is usually found in 8 to 30 fathoms with the 14 to 20 fathom depths often being the best. The best places 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 yellowtail at La Jolla are usually seen or are metered around areas of bait and are often marked by working birds. Yo-yo iron fished around meter marks that are found around deep bait balls can lead to a yellowtail hookup and good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white and scrambled egg colors.


Surface iron has been working best for the yellows and most bites on surface iron come when the angler is 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 has 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, when flylined or when slow trolled.


There have been some schools of short sized barracuda off La Jolla and Point Loma. Most of the barracuda hooked and caught are indeed short sized fish that much be released with only an occasional legal sized barracuda being caught. Barracuda must be at least 28 inches long to be kept


Calico bass fishing at La Jolla has been very good with the afternoon hours tending to be the best. There has also been an occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for calico bass at La Jolla.


The calico bass fishing at the Point Loma Kelp Beds has improved and has been providing good to very good calico bass fishing. Similar to the fishing at La Jolla, the Point Loma Kelp Beds have also been producing an occasional white seabass. A key to finding a good calico bass bite at Point Loma and elsewhere is to find kelp bed areas that have the cleanest and warmest water with a steady downhill current flow. The kelp off the Green Tank at Point Loma has been a good zone for the calicos in recent days.


In addition to La Jolla and Point Loma, kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast have been seeing improving calico bass fishing at spots such as 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 spots off Point San Mateo and the San Clemente State Park.


Productive hard bottom and structure spots that have been producing more of a mix of 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.


Rockfish fishing remains good in San Diego County coastal areas. Productive rockfish 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.


In addition to the halibut biting at Los Coronado Islands as talked about above, there are fair to sometimes pretty good numbers of halibut biting along the San Diego County coast. Productive halibut areas include 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 summer fishing season officially starts on June 20 and things continue to shape up to where anglers have good reason to be optimistic about the summer and fall seasons that lie ahead. I hope you have been enjoying the fun spring season we have been having and urge you to get out as much as you can to enjoy the upcoming summer and fall seasons that lie ahead. 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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