The recent warming of local offshore waters has provided Southern California offshore anglers with a chance at even more species in addition to the bluefin tuna and yellowtail which have been around since the early part of spring. We first saw some yellowfin tuna enter the mix and the past couple of weeks have brought in more yellowfin tuna as well as additional species such as dorado, striped marlin and even a few albacores.
Mentioning albacore will turn a lot of heads but the past week or so has seen at least three albacores caught from local offshore waters. The first albacore was caught on July 27 aboard the Aztec out of Seaforth Sportfishing. John Yamate of Seaforth Sportfishing described it as a 20-pound class fish that was caught during daylight hours. The fish count for the Aztec was 28 anglers on a 1.5-day trip catching one albacore, 56 bluefin tuna and seven yellowfin tuna. The next two albacore were caught the very next day and they were caught aboard the 4-pack charter boat Lex Sea out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing. The fish count for the Lex Sea was 4 anglers on a full day trip catching two albacores. Let’s go albies!
The bluefin tuna continue to attract most of the attention and they have been running from 20 to 250-plus pounds. The bluefin have been biting well on sardines, mackerel, kite fished flying fish, trolled Nomad Madmac jigs, spreader bar rigs, knife jigs, Colt Snipers and poppers.
The two current bluefin hotspot areas are at the Tanner Bank and in the area 8 to 15 miles to the southeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island. Other areas where there have been occasional recent showings of bluefin have been 2 to 9 miles off the coast between Laguna Beach and Oceanside, the 43 Fathom Spot, the 277 Spot, the 209 Spot, the 267 Spot outside of Dana Point, the Slide at Catalina, the 499 Spot, the Snail Bank, the 474 Spot, the 711 Spot and the area between Santa Barbara Island and Santa Cruz Island.
There have been improving numbers of 15-to-40-pound yellowfin in the picture at quite a few of the areas where the bluefin are being found with the region of the 43 Fathom Spot, the area to the southeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island and the 267 Spot outside of Dana Point being some of the areas where some yellowfins have been in the mix with bluefin. Yellowfin have been biting on flylined sardines fished around kelp paddies, porpoise schools, bluefin stops, yellowfin trolling stops, spots of breaking fish and spots of working tern birds. Cedar plugs have been reported to be working well on the troll for yellowfin.
More and more dorados continue to arrive in local offshore waters and good numbers of dorado are scattered around under some of the kelp paddies. Some of the better numbers of dorado have been reported in the region of the 43 Fathom Spot, 182 Spot, 181 Spot, 138 Spot, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy and the San Salvador Knoll. There was even a recent report of a lost dorado hookup that was had incidental to fishing for calico bass at the kelp beds off San Onofre.
Striped marlin have also entered the offshore picture over the past couple of weeks with the best area being in the Catalina Channel around the 14 Mile Bank. Other areas in the Catalina Channel where there have been recent marlin showings have been the end of the Steamer Lanes below the 14 Mile Bank, the Slide at Catalina, the Avalon Bank and the 267 Spot. My estimate is that there were two marlins caught and released by boats fishing in the Catalina Channel over the past weekend. In the San Diego region, the marlin activity has been inconsistent but there has been occasional marlin activity found at the 9 Mile Bank, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy, the San Salvador Knoll and the 43 Fathom Spot.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of yellowtail, barracuda, calico bass and a variety of bottom fish species such as reds, assorted rockfish, whitefish and an occasional lingcod.
The Middle Grounds, Pukey Point and the north end of South Island have been the best areas for the surface fishing around Los Coronado Islands with the South Kelp, the lee side of South Island and the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island also producing some yellowtail, barracuda and calico bass.
Sardines and surface iron have been working well for barracuda and yellowtail with yo-yo iron also being worth a try for the deeper water yellows off North Island. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45 or Salas 7 X light jigs in blue and white or sardine colors. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white, blue and chrome and scrambled egg colors. Also, worth a try for yellowtail has been to troll X-Rap Rapalas when looking around for something to stop on and fish with sardines or iron.
The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands continues to be very good for a mix of reds, 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.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to improve with the continued warming of the water. The coastal fishing has been good to very good for calico bass, some flurries of sand bass and an assortment of bottom fish species and also produces an occasional yellowtail, white seabass, halibut, bonito or barracuda.
Yellowtails continue to occasionally show at La Jolla with most of the yellowtail activity tending to be found around bait balls. La Jolla has been the overall best zone for surface fishing activity in the San Diego region and in addition to a chance at a yellowtail and some good to very good calico bass fishing La Jolla has been producing an occasional barracuda, bonito or white seabass. The most recent half day counts on the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing saw 101 anglers on two half day trips combine to catch two white seabass, eight rockfish, five sand bass, one lingcod, 112 calico bass and 200 calico bass that were released.
Calico bass have been producing most of the surface fishing activity up and down the San Diego County coast and the most productive areas have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, Sunset Cliffs, La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp and San Onofre.
Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that they have been doing well on calico bass while fishing kelp stringer areas off South Carlsbad, Leucadia and Solana Beach. Cacciola says they need to look in shallow water to locate kelp stringers and that they have been finding kelp stringers in 40 feet of water or less.
The fishing for an assortment of rockfish species continues to be very good at numerous coastal and offshore rockfish spots. Good reports continue to be made by boats fishing areas such as the hard bottom to the southeast and to the northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the 9 Mile Bank, the 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Box Canyon, the 14 Mile Bank and the 60 Mile Bank.
Halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to produce a fair number of fish. The best halibut areas continue to be Imperial Beach, the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach and the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach. A good depth range off Imperial Beach has been 37-to-50 feet and 50 feet has been a good depth to drifting in off Mission Beach.
Other areas where you might want to try for halibut have been inside of San Diego Bay, at the end of the sunken jetty off Coronado at the entrance to San Diego Bay, off Black’s Beach, off South Ponto Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and off of San Onofre.
The summer fishing continues to escalate as more warm water species continue to enter and build up in local waters. Continued warming of the water is anticipated as the summer season continues and the hope is that the warm water will continue to improve the fishing offshore, at the local Islands and along the coast. The fishing is good here and now and I hope you are able to get out on the water as much as possible so you can enjoy as much as you can of the summer fishing season. 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 “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org.