Bluefin Tuna and Swordfish Were Biting Ahead of Recent Storm

SAN DIEGO一 Southern California offshore anglers were enjoying good weather and good fishing for bluefin tuna and swordfish heading into a powerful northern weather system that moved through Southern California a couple of days ago. That weather system brought gale-force winds, high seas, and rain with conditions that were powerful enough to roll over the water and bring about an end to the tuna and swordfish bites. At the time of this writing, it is still an unknown as to what might remain of the bluefin tuna and swordfish bites after the storm as unsettled sea conditions after the storm has continued to keep most boats tied to the dock.

 

Some good news from this morning’s fishing is that a Skipper who was out fishing for swordfish at the 9 Mile Bank reported getting a bite. It is encouraging to find out that there are still some swordfish around and biting after the storm. I would expect some boats to head out to the Tanner Bank to look for bluefin over the next day or two and it will be interesting to see if bluefin are still around and biting after the storm.

 

Before the storm, the bluefin tuna fishing at the Tanner Bank was very good with most sport-boat trips returning with limit catches of 20 to 90-pound bluefin tuna. Some fish counts from the weekend ahead of the recent storm start with Point Loma Sportfishing reported that New Lo-An fished a two-day trip that saw 22 anglers catch their limits of 88 bluefin tuna. The report was that the majority of their bluefin were in the 30 to 50-plus pound range.

 

Fisherman’s Landing reported that Condor returned from a 1.5-day trip that saw 32 anglers catch their limits of 64 bluefin tuna that went to 90 pounds. Fisherman’s Landing also had the Outrider return from a 1.5-day trip that saw 10 anglers catch their limits of 20 bluefin tuna that were in the 25 to 40-pound range.

 

The best bluefin fishing at the Tanner Bank has been in 40 to 100-plus fathoms in areas ranging from the northeast over to southeast of the Tanner Bank high spot. Skippers have been locating bluefin by finding meter marks, sonar marks, and spots of breaking or breezing fish. Sardines and mackerel have been working well for bait with Flat Fall jigs and knife jigs also producing.

 

In other areas, prior to the recent storm, there were occasional spots of breaking bluefin tuna seen by boats that were deep drop fishing for swordfish around the 178 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, and the Coronado Canyon. The problem was that Skippers were reporting that the bluefin seen in these areas were not interested in biting.

 

Boats that have been deep-drop fishing for swordfish were catching an occasional swordfish heading into the recent storm and it sounds like there has been a bit of action this morning for the first couple of boats that have been out looking after the storm. The best swordfish deep drop fishing areas have been in the region of the 178 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, and the Coronado Canyon. My estimate was that there were 2 or 3 swordfish caught by boats fishing these areas in good weather on the weekend ahead of the recent storm.

 

Private boater Ken Morris of the Ken Dandy celebrated his 55th birthday on Friday, Dec. 10 and he booked a trip with Bight Sportfishing in order to go out and try to catch a swordfish on his birthday. Years ago, Morris caught a Southern California striped marlin on his birthday while fishing with Ron Costa and Joe Lops on the High Roller and he wanted to see if he could add a Southern California swordfish to the list of fish he has caught on his birthday.

 

Morris said their day started out with a bang as he hooked an estimated 300-plus pound swordfish that turned into an agonizing heartbreak when the hook pulled out after a three-hour battle when the fish was just 40 feet from the boat. They kept their heads up and kept fishing after that heartbreaking lost fish and their dedication and persistence paid off as Morris hooked a second swordfish in the middle of the afternoon and succeeded in catching a 129.5-pound swordfish!

 

Morris described it as a “tears of joy” experience in hooking two swordfish and catching one on his birthday. Morris dedicated the catch to his father, the late, great sportfishing legend Marty Morris. A Dec. 10 Southern California marlin and now a December 10 Southern California swordfish is simply awesome! Congratulations Ken!

 

There have not been any recent reports coming from Los Coronado Islands and there have been no reports after the recent storm. The last reports were of good mixed bag fishing for bonito, calico bass, reds, rockfish, lingcod, and whitefish along with a chance at scratching out yellowtail. The yellowtail fishing was slow but there was a chance at finding yellowtail along the weather side of North Island, at the Middle Grounds, or the South Kelp Ridge. There had also been occasional flurries of bonito activity and the best areas for a chance at finding bonito were along the weather side of North Island and at the Middle Grounds. Best areas for calico bass were the South Kelp, the Ribbon Kelp, and the Middle Grounds.

 

The weekend ahead of the recent storm did see some boats out fishing for assorted bottom fish species at hard bottom areas to the north and the northwest of North Island.  Skippers were reporting pretty good to good fishing and were commenting that the bite was off just a bit from what they were expecting to find. When conditions are right, the 30 to 50-fathom depths in this zone have been providing good fishing for a mix of reds, salmon grouper, rockfish, and an occasional lingcod. The outer part of the South Kelp Ridge below South Island has also been a productive area for the mixed bag bottom fishing at spots that are in the 25 to 50-fathom depths.

 

The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mixed bag of reds, rockfish, whitefish, sculpin and bass. The coastal water temperatures have dropped to the low 60s after the recent storm and the calico bass fishing has been on the decline with the recent drop in the water temperature.

 

The fishing for yellowtail along the San Diego County coast has been slow but there is recent improvement to report in the yellowtail fishing off La Jolla and Pacific Beach. Both before and after the recent storm there have been a few spots of breaking yellowtail showing which have produced an occasional nice sized fish for those who have been able to get a surface iron to the yellows before they sound. The best sector has been fishing off Pacific Beach in 20 to 35 fathoms.

 

If you find yellowtail working on the surface, good choices would be surface iron, slow trolled sardines, slow trolled mackerel, fly lined sardines, and fly lined mackerel. Try using yo-yoed iron, dropper loop fished sardines and dropper loop fished mackerel when fishing yellowtail meter marks.

 

Productive areas for the mixed bag coastal fishing for bass, sculpin, whitefish, reds and rockfish have been hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 off Point Loma, hard bottom areas off the Green Tank at Point Loma, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, The 270 located to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, and Box Canyon.

 

Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual two-month rockfish closure goes into effect in U.S. waters on Jan. 1, 2022, and will run through Feb. 28, 2022.  During the two month closure period anglers will need to travel into Mexican waters to fish for the various rockfish species covered by the closure.

 

The fishing for halibut remains difficult. Recent weeks have seen occasional halibut being caught and some of the better areas for a chance at a halibut have been Imperial Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach, South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs off Oceanside.

 

December can be a productive month for Southern California saltwater anglers and to date it has already been a productive month that has been highlighted by-catches of bluefin tuna and swordfish. It will be interesting to see what remains of the bluefin tuna bite once boats get back out to the Tanner Bank after the recent storm.

 

Be it offshore, at the local islands or along the coast, I hope you can get out on the water and enjoy some of the fun December fishing!  Watch the marine weather forecast closely and choose the good weather days to do your fishing. 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.

SAN DIEGO一 Southern California offshore anglers were enjoying good weather and good fishing for bluefin tuna and swordfish heading into a powerful northern weather system that moved through Southern California a couple of days ago. That weather system brought gale-force winds, high seas, and rain with conditions that were powerful enough to roll over the water and bring about an end to the tuna and swordfish bites. At the time of this writing, it is still an unknown as to what might remain of the bluefin tuna and swordfish bites after the storm as unsettled sea conditions after the storm has continued to keep most boats tied to the dock.

 

Some good news from this morning’s fishing is that a Skipper who was out fishing for swordfish at the 9 Mile Bank reported getting a bite. It is encouraging to find out that there are still some swordfish around and biting after the storm. I would expect some boats to head out to the Tanner Bank to look for bluefin over the next day or two and it will be interesting to see if bluefin are still around and biting after the storm.

 

Before the storm, the bluefin tuna fishing at the Tanner Bank was very good with most sport-boat trips returning with limit catches of 20 to 90-pound bluefin tuna. Some fish counts from the weekend ahead of the recent storm start with Point Loma Sportfishing reported that New Lo-An fished a two-day trip that saw 22 anglers catch their limits of 88 bluefin tuna. The report was that the majority of their bluefin were in the 30 to 50-plus pound range.

 

Fisherman’s Landing reported that Condor returned from a 1.5-day trip that saw 32 anglers catch their limits of 64 bluefin tuna that went to 90 pounds. Fisherman’s Landing also had the Outrider return from a 1.5-day trip that saw 10 anglers catch their limits of 20 bluefin tuna that were in the 25 to 40-pound range.

 

The best bluefin fishing at the Tanner Bank has been in 40 to 100-plus fathoms in areas ranging from the northeast over to southeast of the Tanner Bank high spot. Skippers have been locating bluefin by finding meter marks, sonar marks, and spots of breaking or breezing fish. Sardines and mackerel have been working well for bait with Flat Fall jigs and knife jigs also producing.

 

In other areas, prior to the recent storm, there were occasional spots of breaking bluefin tuna seen by boats that were deep drop fishing for swordfish around the 178 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, and the Coronado Canyon. The problem was that Skippers were reporting that the bluefin seen in these areas were not interested in biting.

 

Boats that have been deep-drop fishing for swordfish were catching an occasional swordfish heading into the recent storm and it sounds like there has been a bit of action this morning for the first couple of boats that have been out looking after the storm. The best swordfish deep drop fishing areas have been in the region of the 178 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, and the Coronado Canyon. My estimate was that there were 2 or 3 swordfish caught by boats fishing these areas in good weather on the weekend ahead of the recent storm.

 

Private boater Ken Morris of the Ken Dandy celebrated his 55th birthday on Friday, Dec. 10 and he booked a trip with Bight Sportfishing in order to go out and try to catch a swordfish on his birthday. Years ago, Morris caught a Southern California striped marlin on his birthday while fishing with Ron Costa and Joe Lops on the High Roller and he wanted to see if he could add a Southern California swordfish to the list of fish he has caught on his birthday.

 

Morris said their day started out with a bang as he hooked an estimated 300-plus pound swordfish that turned into an agonizing heartbreak when the hook pulled out after a three-hour battle when the fish was just 40 feet from the boat. They kept their heads up and kept fishing after that heartbreaking lost fish and their dedication and persistence paid off as Morris hooked a second swordfish in the middle of the afternoon and succeeded in catching a 129.5-pound swordfish!

 

Morris described it as a “tears of joy” experience in hooking two swordfish and catching one on his birthday. Morris dedicated the catch to his father, the late, great sportfishing legend Marty Morris. A Dec. 10 Southern California marlin and now a December 10 Southern California swordfish is simply awesome! Congratulations Ken!

 

There have not been any recent reports coming from Los Coronado Islands and there have been no reports after the recent storm. The last reports were of good mixed bag fishing for bonito, calico bass, reds, rockfish, lingcod, and whitefish along with a chance at scratching out yellowtail. The yellowtail fishing was slow but there was a chance at finding yellowtail along the weather side of North Island, at the Middle Grounds, or the South Kelp Ridge. There had also been occasional flurries of bonito activity and the best areas for a chance at finding bonito were along the weather side of North Island and at the Middle Grounds. Best areas for calico bass were the South Kelp, the Ribbon Kelp, and the Middle Grounds.

 

The weekend ahead of the recent storm did see some boats out fishing for assorted bottom fish species at hard bottom areas to the north and the northwest of North Island.  Skippers were reporting pretty good to good fishing and were commenting that the bite was off just a bit from what they were expecting to find. When conditions are right, the 30 to 50-fathom depths in this zone have been providing good fishing for a mix of reds, salmon grouper, rockfish, and an occasional lingcod. The outer part of the South Kelp Ridge below South Island has also been a productive area for the mixed bag bottom fishing at spots that are in the 25 to 50-fathom depths.

 

The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mixed bag of reds, rockfish, whitefish, sculpin and bass. The coastal water temperatures have dropped to the low 60s after the recent storm and the calico bass fishing has been on the decline with the recent drop in the water temperature.

 

The fishing for yellowtail along the San Diego County coast has been slow but there is recent improvement to report in the yellowtail fishing off La Jolla and Pacific Beach. Both before and after the recent storm there have been a few spots of breaking yellowtail showing which have produced an occasional nice sized fish for those who have been able to get a surface iron to the yellows before they sound. The best sector has been fishing off Pacific Beach in 20 to 35 fathoms.

 

If you find yellowtail working on the surface, good choices would be surface iron, slow trolled sardines, slow trolled mackerel, fly lined sardines, and fly lined mackerel. Try using yo-yoed iron, dropper loop fished sardines and dropper loop fished mackerel when fishing yellowtail meter marks.

 

Productive areas for the mixed bag coastal fishing for bass, sculpin, whitefish, reds and rockfish have been hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 off Point Loma, hard bottom areas off the Green Tank at Point Loma, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, The 270 located to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, and Box Canyon.

 

Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual two-month rockfish closure goes into effect in U.S. waters on Jan. 1, 2022, and will run through Feb. 28, 2022.  During the two month closure period anglers will need to travel into Mexican waters to fish for the various rockfish species covered by the closure.

 

The fishing for halibut remains difficult. Recent weeks have seen occasional halibut being caught and some of the better areas for a chance at a halibut have been Imperial Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach, South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs off Oceanside.

 

December can be a productive month for Southern California saltwater anglers and to date it has already been a productive month that has been highlighted by-catches of bluefin tuna and swordfish. It will be interesting to see what remains of the bluefin tuna bite once boats get back out to the Tanner Bank after the recent storm.

 

Be it offshore, at the local islands or along the coast, I hope you can get out on the water and enjoy some of the fun December fishing!  Watch the marine weather forecast closely and choose the good weather days to do your fishing. 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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