Start of the Fall Fishing Season Brings Offshore Anglers Bluefin, Yellowfin, Dorado, Yellowtail and Marlin!

The fall fishing season is underway and Southern California anglers have a lot to look forward to with bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail and striped marlin biting offshore and with yellowtail, calico bass, and an assortment of other species available to those fishing at the local Islands and along the coast. The fall months can provide some of the best fishing of the entire year the fall season has been off to a good early start.

Bluefin tuna continue to be the prime target species and the schools of bluefin have been moving around quite a bit. The recent overall bluefin bite has been best during the dark with some bluefin also biting during daylight hours. Most of the bluefin range in size from 40 to 200 pounds and the best areas have been the 500 fathom curve easterly of San Nicolas Island, the Osborn Bank, the deep water basin to the east of Santa Barbara Island and the area between the 499 Spot and Ben Weston off the back side of Catalina. Of all those options, the best recent bluefin bites have come during the dark from meter marks and sonar marks found around the 500 fathom curve easterly of San Nicolas Island.

Tom Golding of Last Buck fished the area a short way east of the 500 fathom curve easterly of San Nicolas Island and said they started out the day with a nice sized bluefin tuna that bit on a Nomad Madmac trolling jig in 70.66 degree water. He said the rest of the day was spent working meter marks they were finding in that same zone. They tried a variety of bait and jigs but never got another bite the rest of the day. Golding said all the bluefin they found were located with their fathometer and said that they never saw any foamers, breezers or spots of breaking fish.

A recent change to report is that most of the areas that are holding bluefin are also providing a chance at catching dorado and yellowfin tuna. One private boat caught 2 dorado and 13 of the 45 pound yellowfin tuna while looking for bluefin out to the west of Santa Barbara Island. Most if not all of his yellowfin were caught on live bait that was fished around porpoise.

The dorado fishing in United States waters sustained a frantic pace for nearly a month but the dorado bite has backed off some during the past week. Good news is that there are still a lot of dorado scattered around that could once again group up and provide red hot fishing. There are still dorado being seen and caught over a wide expanse of ocean but a common report is that the dorado being found in U.S. waters are in a pattern of being touchy biters. In addition to the bluefin zones talked about above, areas where dorado are being found in significant numbers on the U.S. side of the Mexico border are the Mackerel Bank, the 499 Spot, the 152 Spot, the 277 Spot, the Slide, the Avalon Bank, the 14 Mile Bank, the 209 Spot, the 181 Spot, the 289 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 312 Spot, the 178 Spot and the area between the 9 Mile Bank and the Ridge.

A private boater Skipper recently passed along a tip to another private boater who was fishing a kelp paddy outside of the 178 Spot. The Skipper at the kelp paddy was frustrated because the paddy was loaded with dorado that were not interested in biting. The tip provided from the Skipper trying to help by way of providing some useful information was that he had found himself in the same situation a few days before and that he was able to get the touchy dorado to start biting by chumming and fishing sardine chunks.

Boats fishing in Mexican waters below San Diego are catching a mix of dorado, yellowfin tuna and a few yellowtail. The dorado bite has been the best and recent days have seen dorado biting in the region of the 302 Spot, 371 Bank, 425 Bank, Upper Hidden Bank, 390 Bank, Lower Hidden Bank, 295 Bank and Double 220 Bank. The best areas for a chance at yellowfin have been at the Upper Hidden Bank, the 390 Bank and the waters around and below both the 295 Bank and the Double 220 Bank. Most of the yellowfin tuna biting in these areas have ranged from 10 to 40 pounds.

Striped marlin fishing has been hit or miss but has improved in recent days. My estimate is that the past weekend saw 10 marlin caught and released in the Catalina area and 4 marlin caught and released in the San Diego area. There have been sleepers, feeders and jumpers showing and strikes have been coming from blind trolling strikes, dropback baits and baiting sleepers with mackerel.

The Avalon Bank and 14 Mile Bank have been the best areas for marlin in the Catalina area with some marlin activity also being found around the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina. There was also a marlin recently caught by a boat fishing about 8 miles to the southeast of the 277 Spot. Local to San Diego, the best marlin reports have been coming from the region of the 178 Spot and along a water color break that has been out in the deep water between the 9 Mile Bank and the Ridge.

The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has improved for yellowtail and has been good for a mix of yellowtail, calico bass, bonito, whitefish, reds and an assortment of rockfish. Best areas for yellowtail have been Pukey Point at North Island and the hard bottom inside of the Middle Grounds. There has also been a mix of yellowtail and calico bass biting at the kelp stringer areas at the Middle Grounds and the Ribbon Kelp.

As an example of the recent fishing, a sportboat trip to Los Coronado Islands aboard Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing had 24 anglers on a full day trip catch 27 yellowtail, 26 rockfish, 5 bonito, 2 sand bass, 2 sheephead and 51 calico bass.

Private boaters have been reporting success with yellowtail at Los Coronado Islands while slow trolling or flylining sardines and most of the yellowtail have ranged from 6 to 20 pounds. There was also a recent report from a private boater who was hooking yellowtail on surface iron cast to spots of breaking fish off Pukey Point at North Island. Yo-yo iron jigs dropped down to meter marks found at the good yellowtail bite area inside of the Middle Grounds have also been effective.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mixed bag of calico bass, sand bass, bonito, reds, whitefish, sheephead, an assortment of rockfish and a chance at a yellowtail. The arrival of fall saw coastal water temperatures cool a bit with 68.5 degree water being found at the Point Loma Kelp Beds in recent days.

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 with meter marks producing sand bass at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and out to the southwest of the Imperial Beach Pier in 70 to 80 feet. The Imperial Beach and Point Loma Kelp Bed areas have also been producing occasional bites on 1 to 2 pound bonito.

Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports fishing kelp bed areas below Oceanside Harbor and finding 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.

Cacciola continues to coach anglers on how to best flyline a sardine or a mini-mac sized mackerel into the kelp to help them best target legal sized calico bass. He also reports that they have been doing well on calicos of all sizes by chumming and fishing sardine chunks.

The upper end of La Jolla continues to be the best zone for a chance at a coastal yellowtail. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has had yellowtail showing in their fish counts on a high percentage of their recent half-day trips. Their best recent yellowtail bite was on an afternoon half-day trip that saw 48 anglers catch 9 calico bass, 14 whitefish and 16 yellowtail.

Yellowtail at La Jolla 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 mackerel or sardines. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in blue & white, sardine and mint colors.

It seems that more anglers are starting to try for halibut along the San Diego County coast but the halibut bite remains difficult. One place where there was a good recent halibut bite reported was at the V’s off the back side of Catalina. Spots that have been providing an occasional halibut along he 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 summer of 2022 Southern California fishing season was a fine one and it looks like Southern California anglers will continue to have good fishing that carries over into some of the months of the fall. Time will tell what Mother Nature will provide. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy some fun fall 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 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

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