We are venturing late into the month of November, and it is great to be able to report that Southern California offshore anglers are still able to venture out fishing and catch bluefin tuna and swordfish with an occasional yellowfin tuna also in the mix with the bluefin. Offshore water temperatures where tuna and swordfish are being found have been running from 61.5 to 63.5 degrees and this temperature range could hold for a while until more northern storms move through.
There are two main zones of bluefin tuna activity with good fishing being found in the region to the southeast of the 381 Spot that is located off the back side of San Clemente Island and to the northeast of the 267 Spot that is located easterly of the Tanner Bank. Boats that have been fishing these areas have been finding action on what are mostly 40 to 100 pound bluefin tuna with an occasional bigger fish to 150-plus pounds also in the mix.
As an example of the recent fishing, the past weekend saw Seaforth Sportfishing have Tribute get home from a 1.5 day trip where 17 anglers caught 32 bluefin tuna. Voyager also returned to Seaforth Sportfishing from a 1.5 day trip that saw 13 anglers catch 13 bluefin tuna and 90 rockfish. Cortez returned to Seaforth Sportfishing after a 3.5 day trip where 10 anglers caught their limits of 60 bluefin tuna along with 3 yellowfin tuna and 78 rockfish. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Pacifica get home from a 2 day trip where 25 anglers caught 79 bluefin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Polaris Supreme get home from a 3.5 day trip that saw 23 anglers catch their limits of 138 bluefin tuna that ranged in size to 100 pounds. H&M Landing, Fisherman’s Landing and Point Loma Sportfishing all had boats out over the past weekend that posted similar results.
Closer to San Diego there are also some bluefin tuna biting in the region of the 9 Mile Bank and nearby 178 Spot. These are mostly 40 to 50 pound fish with an occasional showing of bluefin that are up around 100 pounds. A common report from this local 9 Mile Bank and 178 Spot sector is that it is not easy to get the bluefin to bite. There are occasional biting bluefin found in this zone though and there has also been a chance at catching a yellowfin.
The bluefin out by San Clemente Island and the Tanner Bank have been biting both day and night but I do not think anyone has tried fishing them at night in the region of the 9 Mile Bank and 178 Spot. Bluefin have been located by finding meter marks, sonar marks, spots of breaking fish, spots of working birds and the occasional trolling strike. Best baits and lures have been trolled Nomad Macmac jigs, trolled spreader bar rigs, Colt Snipers, poppers, knife jigs, kite fished flying fish and sinker rigged or flylined sardines and mackerel.
Deep drop fishing for swordfish has been producing some bites, hookups and a few boated fish. Boats have been deep drop fishing at areas such as the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot, the Radar Dome at San Clemente Island, the canyon outside of Dana Point and the area 3 to 8 miles off Newport Beach. Of all those locations the region of the 9 Mile Bank and nearby 178 Spot have usually been the best for the deep drop swordfish fishing with Skippers in this sector also often reporting seeing spots of breaking bluefin tuna while they are deep drop fishing for swordfish. Every once in a while someone fishing in this same sector also sees a marlin while they are deep drop fishing for swordfish. My guesstimate is that boats that are deep drop fishing with sportfishing gear in the 9 Mile Bank and 178 Spot sector have been combining to catch anywhere from zero to 2 swordfish per day.
The recent fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of bonito, calico bass, reds, rockfish, lingcod, whitefish and a chance at a yellowtail. The most recent sportboat count from Los Coronado Islands was on Malihini out of H&M Landing that had 8 anglers on a full day trip catch 38 rockfish, 25 whitefish, 1 bonito and 13 lingcod.
The water temperature around Los Coronado Islands has dropped down to the 61 to 63 degree range and there has only been very occasional yellowtail activity found in that cool water. Looking for areas where you find your warmest water is a good way to try and locate the warmer water surface species such as yellowtail, bonito and calico bass.
There has been occasional yellowtail activity found along the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the South Kelp Ridge and the Rockpile. Best areas to try and locate bonito have been at the Middle Grounds, Pukey Point at North Island, the lee side of South Island and the Rockpile. Try for calico bass at kelp stringer, hard bottom and kelp bed areas such as the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp.
Productive areas for the assorted bottom fish species are the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island, the South Kelp Ridge and the Rockpile. Fishing these areas in the 25 to 50 fathom depths has been a good range. Hard bottom areas around the Rockpile and at the South Kelp Ridge have been best for lingcod.
The water temperature along the San Diego County coast has dropped down to the low to mid 60’s in most areas but the coastal fishing remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, bonito, sculpin, whitefish, reds, rockfish and an occasional bonus lingcod. Yellowtail and halibut fishing has been slow but there have been improving signs of life in the way of birds, bait and porpoise off La Jolla. The birds, bait and porpoise off La Jolla are encouraging signs for the possibility of having more yellowtail move into the area.
Bonito have been providing the best coastal surface fishing with the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Kelp Beds and the La Jolla Kelp Beds being the best areas for bonito that have been running from 1.5 to 5 pounds.
Good areas for the assorted bottom fish species along the San Diego County coast listed from the south to the north have been the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, Sunset Cliffs, the 270, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad and Box Canyon.
Halibut fishing continues to be slow but if you want to give it a try, areas that have produced a few halibut along the San Diego County Coast in recent weeks 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.
We have been blessed with a bountiful 2022 fishing season and the great news is that the fishing for offshore species, coastal and island species is still good! If the northern weather systems stay clear of Southern California the offshore fishing might continue a while longer as long as enough boats are out fishing to keep track of where the fish might be as they move around. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.