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Big Bluefin Tuna Biting at San Clemente Island!

Bluefin tuna continue to be in the spotlight for Southern California saltwater anglers with some days of good fishing on bluefin to 200-plus pounds being found over the past weekend for boats fishing 1 to 3 miles inside of the eastern part of San Clemente Island. In addition to bluefin tuna, there have also been some yellowtail, white seabass, calico bass, sand bass, bonito, halibut and assorted bottom fish biting to provide anglers with a variety of species to target in planning a day (or night) of fishing.

Prior to the past weekend there were good numbers of what were mostly 20 to 100 pound bluefin biting in Mexican waters for boats fishing a large area ranging from the Upper Finger Bank on down to the waters to the west of Punta Colnett but the bite in that sector dropped off significantly for most boats that were fishing the area over the weekend. The zone that did produce well over the weekend was from 1 to 3 miles inside of the eastern part of San Clemente Island where there were some good bites on large bluefin that were for the most part up in the 80 to 200 pound range.

The bluefin inside of San Clemente Island have been biting both day and night with the best fishing being reported between 6:00 PM and 2:00 AM. Most of the bluefin are being located by finding spots of breezing fish, sonar marks or meter marks. The bluefin were reported to be biting well on knife jigs during the daylight evening and the nighttime hours and were also biting on slow trolled California Flyers during daylight hours in areas where there were spots of breezing bluefin being seen.

Anglers are hoping the good numbers of bluefin that had been biting off the Mexican coast as talked about above will pop up again sometime soon. Specific areas where there were bluefin biting before the fish went into hiding over the past weekend were the Upper Finger Bank, the 475 Knuckle, the area to the west of Todos Santos Island, the 415 Knuckle, the Peanut Bank and the area to the west and the northwest of Punta Colnett.

With the bluefin bite in Mexican waters slowing down over the past few days, some boats that might otherwise be tuna fishing offshore started fishing at Los Coronado Islands and what they found was good mixed bag fishing for barracuda, calico bass, rockfish, whitefish, sculpin and a few lingcod.

Grande out of H&M Landing fished the Coronados on a full day trip and had 22 anglers catch 110 barracuda and 110 rockfish. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing also fished the Coronados on a full day trip and had 25 anglers catch 10 calico bass, 17 barracuda, 12 rockfish, 3 lingcod, 1 sheephead, 33 sculpin and 125 whitefish.

The best area for barracuda has been inside of the north end of South Island with barracuda and calico bass also biting at spots such as the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp, the South Kelp, the Lighthouse at the south end of South Island

and Pukey Point. The yellowtail fishing has been slow with the last reports of yellowtail activity coming from the Middle Grounds. Sardines and surface iron work well for barracuda. Good choices for surface iron have been Tady 45 or Salas 7 X light jigs in blue and white or sardine colors.

Looking for areas where you find your warmest and cleanest water with a downhill current flow will help in locating some surface fishing species. The water temperature around the Coronados has been running from 61.5 to 64.5 degrees.

The bottom fishing around the Coronados has been 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 and north of North Island in 30 to 60 fathoms.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for an assortment of reds and other rockfish species and has also been producing some sand bass, calico bass and barracuda along with a chance at a bonus yellowtail, white seabass or halibut. The surface fishing along the coast was better a few days ago but some coastal areas saw the water temperature abruptly drop from 64.5 degrees to 61.5 degrees. The abrupt drop in water temperature slowed the surface fishing in the areas that experienced the temperature change but the good news is that the water conditions are already starting to rebound and warm up in spots with 65.5 to 66 degree clean blue-green water being reported outside of Imperial Beach this morning.

La Jolla has been the best zone for surface fishing and has been producing an occasional yellowtail, along with some calico bass, a few barracuda and good numbers of rockfish. There is also talk of a squid bed having been found at La Jolla that has produced an occasional yellowtail or white seabass during the dark. This morning a private boater Skipper reported having caught 2 barracuda while slow trolling with sardines around a bait ball found off La Jolla. Slow trolled sardines or mackerel have also led to an occasional yellowtail hookup.

The La Jolla yellowtail activity tends to be found in the region ranging from the outskirts of the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla on up to the upper end of La Jolla. The productive depth range has been ranging from 7 to 35 fathoms and locating bait within that depth range has been a key to locating yellowtail or barracuda.

In other areas there have been occasional yellowtail sightings reported by boats fishing around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, at the Point Loma Kelp Beds, at the Barn Kelp and off San Onofre.

The fishing for an assortment of rockfish species continues to be very good at various coastal and offshore rockfish spots. Good reports have been coming in from areas such as the International Reef, 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.

The halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast has been scratchy but there are a few halibut biting. Look for a chance at a halibut inside of San Diego Bay between the west end of Harbor Island and the area a short way past the Coronado Bay Bridge while drifting on the Coronado side of the channel. Also try Imperial Beach, the area at the end of the sunken jetty off Coronado at the entrance to San Diego Bay, the sandy bottom around the structure of the sunken NEL Tower and the structure of the Yukon shipwreck outside of Mission Beach, off Black’s Beach, off South Ponto Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, off the Golf Ball located above Oceanside and outside of San Onofre. There was a recent report about several boats that were fishing for halibut off Imperial Beach. The report was that most of the boats found slow fishing except for one boat that caught 2 legal sized halibut while bounce ball trolling.

This has been a good spring fishing season but I look for the summer season to be even better. Summer is upon us and I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy 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 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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