We are now well into the month of November and there is still warm 66 to 68 degree water to be found off the Southern California coast that is holding good numbers of offshore game fish. Those looking for tuna have been finding good fishing for bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna along with a few dorado and yellowtail. Anglers looking for billfish have been finding a chance at marlin or swordfish with the marlin fishing being on the scratchy side of things and with the deep drop method of fishing for swordfish producing quite a few opportunities for catching a swordfish.
Bluefin tuna fishing has been good on fish that have mostly been in the 20 to 125-plus pound range with some of the better sportboat trips producing limit catches of bluefin tuna. Yellowfin tuna have been in the mix in many of the areas where bluefin have been biting and most of the yellowfin have been in the 20 to 40 pound class. The numbers of dorado in local offshore waters has thinned out with the cooling of the water temperature but there is still a chance of finding a few dorado or yellowtail around a kelp paddy.
The tuna hotspot area at the moment is in the region to the southwest of the 43 Fathom Spot. Other productive areas have been 5 to 12 miles to the east of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island and the regions of the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy, the Corner, the 182 Spot and the 289 Spot. There have also been sporadic showings of bluefin and yellowfin 5 to 12 miles off the coast between Point Loma and South Laguna Beach.
Tuna have been found by locating sonar marks, meter marks, porpoise schools, spots of breaking fish, kelp paddies and trolling strikes. Sardines have been the best bait for the bluefin and yellowfin. Good news for private boaters is that there has been a recent increase in bluefin trolling strikes on the Nomad Madmac trolling plugs.
Striped marlin fishing has been slow but the past week has seen one or two marlin caught. An unusual marlin catch was recently reported at the 9 Mile Bank when a marlin bit a plastic squid that was fished on a rock cod rig. The bite came 100 feet below the surface and I am not sure if the marlin bit on the sink or when the rig was being retrieved. Areas where there has been a bit of marlin activity reported have been the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 43 Fathom Spot and the back side of Catalina.
Swordfish fishing has been good for those using the deep drop method. The fishing has been good enough that a commercial boat Captain recently reported having 7 swordfish hookups in a day. Commercial boats and sportfishing boats have been getting swordfish bites while deep drop fishing at spots such as the 9 Mile Bank, 178 Spot, the east end of Catalina, the area off the Slide and Avalon at Catalina, the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel and 3 to 8 miles off the stretch of coast between La Jolla and Newport Beach. Of all those areas the 9 Mile Bank, 178 Spot, La Jolla and Carlsbad have been the best.
An incredible rod and reel swordfish catch was recently made out at the 9 Mile Bank when private boater Karl Adriany of Party of Three caught a 313.6 pound swordfish while he was fishing solo! Wendy Gray at The Marlin Club in San Diego reports that the swordfish was hooked on a large squid at 11:00 AM on 80 pound test tackle and was boated at 1:30 PM. The catch of a 313.6 pound single handed swordfish is a truly amazing angling feat. Congratulations Karl!
The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has not received much attention due to the good fishing that has been going on in local offshore waters. The last reports were of good fishing for an assortment of bottom fish species with slow fishing for surface fishing species such as yellowtail, bonito or barracuda.
The bottom fishing around the Coronados has been producing a mix of reds, salmon grouper, assorted rockfish and whitefish along with a chance at a bonus lingcod. 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.
An important reminder to anglers fishing in United States waters is that the fishing for rockfish in Nearshore waters and the fishing for Nearshore rockfish species no matter where they are caught is currently closed. Please refer to the Department of Fish and Wildlife website for all the details about the closed areas and the closed species at www.wildlife.ca.gov.
Anglers also need to know that the current closure regulations are in effect through December 31, 2023 when the usual seasonal rockfish closure will come into effect and be in effect from January 1, 2024 through March 31, 2024.
The fishing for rockfish has been good in areas that are outside of the current closure zones at places such as the 9 Mile Bank, South Carlsbad, Box Canyon and the 14 Mile Bank.
The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been pretty good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, whitefish and sheephead and there has also been a chance at scratching out a yellowtail at La Jolla. Productive areas for calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, whitefish and sheephead have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Green Tank, La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre.
Halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast has been scratchy. A few of the better areas for halibut in the fall season have been off Imperial Beach, San Diego Bay and at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL tower or the structure of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach. A good depth range off Imperial Beach has been in 37 to 50 feet and 50 feet has been a good depth off Mission Beach. Other productive halibut areas have been Mission Bay, Black’s Beach, South Ponto Beach, the Buccaneer Pipeline, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and San Onofre.
The 2023 Southern California fall fishing season is continuing to produce a wide range of good fishing be it tuna and billfish biting in offshore waters or for a mix bag of coastal type species that have been biting along the San Diego County coast and at Los Coronado Islands. I hope you can get out on the water and enjoy the fun fall fishing. 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 email@example.com.