We are close to being into the month of November and at the current time Southern California offshore anglers are enjoying a real treat in being able to plan a fishing trip and be able to target species that include bluefin tuna to 200-plus pounds, yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail, striped marlin and swordfish. The reality of the situation is that the run of any or all of these warm water species could end at any time if currents or storms bring about a significant drop in the water temperature. For the time being though the water conditions remain rather stable with water temperatures as warm as 70.5 degrees being reported out on the offshore fishing grounds.
Big bluefin tuna continue to bite out by the Tanner and Cortes Banks with the Tanner Bank being the best bluefin bite sector in recent days in an area ranging from southeast over to northeast of the Tanner Bank high spot in depths ranging from 30 to 300-plus fathoms. A new development that makes the fishing picture even better out by the Cortes and Tanner Banks is that there is a possibility of finding quality sized yellowtail biting in the 15 to 30 fathom depths when fishing in the vicinity of the high spot at the Tanner Bank or The Buoy at the Cortes Bank.
A recent private boater report from the Tanner Bank was of catching limits of bluefin to 100-plus pounds from the area to the northeast of the Tanner Bank high spot. Bluefin have been biting both day and night and most of the bluefin are being located by finding meter marks, sonar marks or blind trolling strikes. There have also been occasional showings of breezing, foaming or breaking bluefin.
During the night, the bluefin have been biting well on knife jigs or sinker rigged sardines. During daylight hours, a good way to go has been using flylined and sinker rigged sardines, knife jigs, trolled Nomad Madmac jigs and kite fished flying fish. For private boaters, the Nomad Madmac trolling jigs and kite fished flying fish often work best during daylight hours.
Boats fishing waters within 35 miles or so of Point Loma have been catching good numbers of dorado along with an occasional 30 to 50 pound bluefin tuna or 10 to 20 pound yellowfin tuna. Productive areas have been the Corner, the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 230 Spot, 6 to 10 miles west of North Island and the 9 Mile Bank. The dorado have been biting around kelp paddies and the tuna have been found around whales and porpoise with an occasional yellowfin also being caught from a blind trolling strike.
The best bet for the bluefin within 35 miles of Point Loma has been to hang around in the vicinity of whales and wait for a spot of breaking fish to show around a whale. Once a spot of breaking bluefin is seen, anglers have had success by casting a Tady 45 surface iron or a Nomad Madscad jig to the spot of breaking fish.
Boats out on multi-day trips have been finding good mixed bag fishing for yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack and yellowtail from offshore waters ranging from the Peanut Bank that is located below Ensenada on down to the area of the Squiggles which is located outside of Punta Colnett. Productive zones down in this sector have been in the region of the Peanut Bank, the 1140 Finger, the Lower 500 Bank and the Squiggles.
There is still some striped marlin activity in local offshore waters with occasional marlin encounters being found in the Catalina Channel and off the East End of Catalina. The region around and about the 14 Mile Bank has been the best. There are occasional jumpers, feeders, sleepers and tailers seen but most of the bites come from fish that are raised on the troll and either bite a trolling jig or a dropback mackerel. In the San Diego region there is an occasional marlin encounter reported incidental to fishing for tuna and dorado. The most recent report was of 2 boats that had 3 marlin trolling strikes that lead to one lost hookup. This San Diego area of marlin activity was found inside of the Corner at 28 miles 255 degrees from Point Loma.
Some boats have been deep drop drifting for swordfish at spots in the Catalina Channel and at the 9 Mile Bank. There have been also been some swordfish seen finning on the surface at spots in the Catalina Channel. There have been some swordfish around but so far there has not been much to report in the way of biting swordfish.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mixed bag of bonito, yellowtail, calico bass, reds, rockfish and whitefish. The best zone for yellowtail has been to look for meter marks and sonar marks in the region of the Rockpile. Once located with the electronics, yo-yo iron has been the best way to go for the yellows. In addition to yellowtail, the Rockpile has been a good zone for bonito and rockfish. Grande out of H&M Landing was the last sportboat I know of fishing around Los Coronado Islands and they had 29 anglers on a full day trip catch 46 yellowtail and 95 bonito.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, bonito, sculpin, whitefish, reds and rockfish along with an occasional bonus halibut or yellowtail. A good area for this mixed bag fishing has been the Imperial Beach Pipeline where a lot of trips out of San Diego Bay have been doing well for a mixed bag of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, rockfish and bonito.
Private boaters fishing around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma have been reporting catching good numbers of small to medium sized bonito. The reports have been that the private boaters have been catching bonito by trolling with small Rapalas.
The yellowtail fishing along the San Diego County coast remains scratchy but the upper end of La Jolla continues to provide the best chance at a coastal yellowtail. Private boaters have had their best luck in getting a bite from a La Jolla yellowtail while slow trolling with mackerel or sardines. A good depth range has been 10 to 25 fathoms.
Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports continued good mixed bag fishing for calico bass, sand bass, sheephead and an assortment of bottom fish species. Productive kelp bed areas have been at South Carlsbad, Leucadia, Encinitas and Solana Beach.
Halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be scratchy but if you want to give it a try, areas that have been producing an occasional halibut in San Diego County waters 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.
It is getting late in the fishing season but we are being blessed by still having a lot of warm water pelagic species biting in Southern California and northern Baja waters. I hope you can take advantage of this fine fall fishing and that you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the fun. 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.