October Offshore Fishing Remains Hot!
We are well into the month of October and Southern California anglers have a lot to be thankful for as the offshore fishing remains strong for species that include bluefin tuna to 200-plus pounds, yellowfin tuna, dorado, striped marlin, skipjack and yellowtail. Anglers have been able to target varied species by working areas that are spread out over a large expanse of ocean ranging from the waters above Catalina and San Clemente Islands on down to the offshore waters off Punta Colnett.
As has been the case, bluefin tuna are the main attraction and bluefin up over 200 pounds have been biting in an area ranging from the back side of San Clemente Island on up to the waters to the southwest of the West End of Catalina. Specific productive areas within that zone have been 3 to 5 miles southwest of the West End of Catalina, 2 to 4 miles outside of the Catalina Canyon, the 499 Spot, 3 to 8 miles northwest of the West End of San Clemente Island and outside of San Clemente Island to the southwest of the West End and outside of both West Cove and Seal Cove. A nice addition to the bluefin fishing in some of these areas is that there has been a chance at finding 20 to 60 pound yellowfin tuna that have been holding around porpoise.
Bluefin have been biting both day and night. Most of the bluefin are being located by finding meter marks, sonar marks and blind trolling strikes. There has not been much showing in the way of spots of foaming or breaking fish. During the night the best bet has been using knife jigs or sinker rigged sardines. During daylight hours, the best bets have been flylined and sinker rigged sardines, knife jigs, trolled Nomad Madmac jigs and kite fished flying fish. For private boaters, the trolled Nomad Madmac jigs are often the best bet during the daylight hours and they work best when trolled at 12 to 14 knots.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported catching 2 nice sized bluefin by working the region to the west-southwest of the West End of San Clemente Island and off West Cove. Golding started out the morning with a bang in catching a 144 pound bluefin that he personally caught on a Nomad pink and glow color knife jig. The fish was hooked from a meter mark found at 6:42 AM in 66.12 degree water.
Golding reported that their second bluefin of the day was a 60 pound fish that was caught by his boat partner Steve Kunitake using 40 pound test and a sardine. The bluefin bit while baiting a kelp paddy in 66.14 degree water.
Golding said that they spent a good part of the day trolling Madmac jigs with no luck on the troll and ended up heading for home at around 2:00 PM. On the way home they found a productive dorado kelp paddy off the East End of Catalina and caught their two largest dorado of the season which were 25 pound bulls. The dorado bite was from a kelp paddy found a few miles to the southwest of the 277 Spot.
Dorado fishing in U.S. waters remains good with productive kelp paddy areas being the 277 Spot, the 209 Spot, the 312 Spot, the 178 Spot and 8 to 15 miles off the stretch of coast between San Onofre and Oceanside. There has also been an occasional bonus 30 to 40 pound bluefin tuna or yellowfin tuna caught incidental to fishing for dorado in the area 8 to 15 miles off the coast between San Onofre and Oceanside. Finding the “right” kelp paddy can lead to a wide open dorado bite and more.
Private boater Robert Serdoz of Lucky Charm fished a solo trip out of Oceanside and found a kelp paddy about 11 miles off Oceanside that went completely wide open on dorado. Serdoz said he caught and also caught and released dorado until he used up his last bait in the bait tank. Serdoz wound up catching his U.S. limits of 10 dorado and also caught and released an additional 10 dorado. In addition to catching dorado on sardines he also reported catching 3 dorado by casting and retrieving a Nomad Madscad jig. It was the type of kelp paddy bite anglers dream about where the dorado stayed with the boat the whole time and he never had to move the boat to go back to the kelp paddy. Serdoz was limited out and back at the dock early in the day.
Boats fishing in Mexican waters have been finding good fishing for a mixed bag of dorado, yellowfin tuna, 20 to 50 pound bluefin tuna, an occasional yellowtail and a few skipjack. The best yellowfin fishing has been at the more distant offshore banks ranging from the waters outside of Ensenada on down to the waters off Punta Colnett. From north to south the best areas have been the 302 Spot, 230 Spot, 371 Bank, 390 Bank, Upper Hidden Bank, Upper 500 Bank, 385 Spot, 295 Bank, 450 Spot, the 1140 Finger and the area ranging from the Lower 500 Bank on down to the offshore waters outside of Punta Colnett. Kelp paddies have been producing a large percentage of the fish caught in these areas.
Striped marlin fishing has been good around Catalina in the region of the 14 Mile Bank, Avalon Bank and the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel. My estimate of the past 3 days of fishing is that there have been between 20 and 25 marlin caught and released. There have been feeders and jumpers showing along with an occasional tailer or sleeper. Most of the hookups come from marlin that are raised on the trolling jigs and end up being hooked on one of the trolling jigs or on a mackerel that is dropped back into the wake while fish are behind the boat chasing the jigs. Catalina has been the marlin hotspot without much news to report about marlin activity being found in other areas.
Los Coronado Islands saw yellowtail fishing improve during the past week with good numbers of yellowtail biting in the region of the Rockpile. Some of the best bites have been found by locating meter marks or sonar marks in the deeper water around the Rockpile and then fishing with yo-yoed iron. There have also been some bonito and rockfish biting around the Rockpile.
Recent reports from boats fishing around North Island, the Middle Grounds and South Island have been of fair numbers of calico bass biting at the Middle Grounds and at the kelp bed areas around South Island but of not much else happening with the surface fishing. The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been good at hard bottom areas out to the northwest and the north of North Island in the 25 to 50 fathom depths.
The last sportboat trip I know of to Los Coronado Islands was on Alicia out of H&M Landing that had 8 anglers on a full day trip catch their limits of 40 yellowtail, 25 whitefish, 6 bonito, 2 lingcod and 1 sheephead.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mixed bag of calico bass, sand bass, bonito, sculpin, rockfish and reds along with an occasional halibut and a chance at a yellowtail.
The best calico bass kelp bed areas have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad and the Barn. Imperial Beach continues to produce pretty good numbers of sand bass and sculpin along with a few calico bass, an occasional halibut and some flurries of bonito. Meter marks have been producing sand bass, sculpin and a few calico bass at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and occasionally bonito will come through and bite while fishing at the pipeline. The International Reef has also been producing an assortment of rockfish species.
Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that there is good mixed bag fishing for calico bass, sand bass, sheephead and an assortment of bottom fish species. Productive kelp bed areas for calico bass have been at South Carlsbad, Leucadia, Encinitas and Solana Beach. Box Canyon has been one of the best areas for rockfish.
The upper end of La Jolla continues to be the best zone for a chance at a coastal yellowtail but there has been some off color water moving around the area and the yellowtail bite has slowed. The yellows at La Jolla have been mostly 20 to 30 pound fish which have been located anywhere from the kelp line on out to 25 fathoms. Sardines, mackerel and surface iron have been good choices for yellowtail and private boaters have also had success when slow trolling those live baits. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in blue & white, sardine and mint colors.
The halibut fishing continues to be scratchy but there has been some recent improvement in the halibut activity off Imperial Beach. If you want to give it a try, areas that have been providing an occasional 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.
The calendar says that the summer fishing season is behind us but the fish are still biting in summer like fashion in the early fall. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy some the fun October fishing. 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.