LocalFish Rap

Summer Fishing Highlighted by Bluefin Tuna, Dorado, Yellowfin Tuna, Striped Marlin, Yellowtail, and Calico Bass!

Southern California anglers have a lot to be thankful for as the summer fishing season continues to provide opportunities to catch numerous wonderful warm water game fish that include bluefin tuna, dorado, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, yellowtail, barracuda, sand bass and calico bass.  When you add to that a chance at white seabass, halibut, whitefish, sculpin, reds, sheephead, rockfish and maybe even a rare albacore, we are truly blessed to have an opportunity to go out on the ocean and target some fantastic game fish.


The bluefin tuna continue to attract most of the attention and they have been running from 20 to 220-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 region of the 474 Spot above the West End of San Clemente Island. Other areas where there have been occasional recent showings of bluefin have been the area inside of the 267 Spot that is easterly of the Tanner Bank and the area outside of Seal Cove off the back side of San Clemente Island.  There are also occasional showings of bluefin 2 to 7 miles off the coast between Laguna Beach and La Jolla, in the area ranging from 2 to 7 miles northwest over to southwest of North Island, at the 9 Mile Bank and at the178 Spot.  What has also been interesting is that there have been occasional showings of both bluefin and yellowfin incidental to fishing for yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands.


There have been scattered showings of 15 to 40 pound yellowfin tuna being reported in the waters ranging from some of the local banks outside of Los Coronado Islands on up to the Catalina Channel but the showings of yellowfin have been inconsistent and it has not been easy to get the yellowfin to bite. One of the areas where yellowfin have been showing with a bit of consistency has been 2 to 8 miles off the coast between Point San Mateo and Laguna Beach. 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 and Halco trolling plugs have been reported to be working well on the troll for yellowfin.  Try Colt Snipers and poppers if you can cast them to breaking fish before they sound.


The dorado bite has been on the decline in recent days and has been just fair.  There have been good numbers of dorado around prior to the recent decline and it is my guess that the dorado will pop up in good numbers again sometime soon.  Dorado have been biting from spots of breezing fish, kelp paddies and blind trolling strikes. Some of the better numbers of dorado have been reported in the region of the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot and the area 2 to 7 miles northwest over to southwest of North Island.


Striped marlin have been biting well at times in the area 1 to 5 miles off Catalina between Arrow Point and Long Point and also in the region of the 172 Spot above the West End of Catalina. The marlin bite slipped a bit over the past weekend but has been good enough at times over the past 10 days or so to be at the point where some boats were releasing 2 or 3 marlin in a day.


The marlin fishing in the San Diego area has been improving and I am estimating that over the past weekend that there were 2 or 3 marlin caught and released by boats fishing the 9 Mile Bank and the area 2 to 6 miles outside of La Jolla.


Most of the marlin have been hooked from blind trolling strikes and dropback mackerel. There have also been some marlin bites on sardines intended for dorado when fishing a kelp paddy and from baiting tailers and feeders with live mackerel.


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. What has provided some extra excitement is that there have been occasional showings of both bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna that have often been found incidental to fishing for yellowtail. There was a recent report of a 60 pound bluefin tuna being hooked and lost. That hookup was had incidental to fishing for yellowtail along the weather side of North Island off the south tip of the Island.


The Middle Grounds, Pukey Point, the Rockpile 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 and at the Rockpile. 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. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45 or Salas 7 X light jigs in blue and white or sardine colors. Also worth a try for yellowtail and a chance at a tuna 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 has been good to very good for calico bass, some flurries of sand bass and an assortment of bottom fish species and also has also been producing an occasional yellowtail, white seabass, halibut, bonito or barracuda.


Yellowtail continue to occasionally show at La Jolla with most of the yellowtail activity tending to be found around bait balls or found incidental to fishing the kelp bed areas for calico bass. 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. A private boater fishing for calico bass in 70 feet of water at La Jolla recently reported catching a 28 pound yellowtail.


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 and reef 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.


Cacciola also reports occasional yellowtail activity incidental to fishing for calico bass and says they recently caught an 8 pound yellowtail and hooked and lost an estimated 20 pound yellowtail. The 20 pound yellowtail was hooked on 12 pound test and was able to make it in the rocks and kelp to break the line.


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 evolve and most of the people I talk to think the peak of the season still lies ahead. No matter what the rest of the season has in store, there is good fishing to enjoy here and now. 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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