Bluefin Tuna Bite Right Through Breezy Weather Conditions!

SAN DIEGO⸺ The past several weeks has brought windy weather to Southern California and Northern Baja offshore waters. But the unsettled sea conditions have not slowed the bluefin tuna fishing which continues to produce near limit-to-limit fishing on fish reaching up to 265-plus pounds.


For example, we are currently in the middle of a stretch where either Small Craft Advisories or Gale Warnings have been and are still posted. The recent weather pattern has kept a lot of boats at home and has often presented anglers with challenging conditions to deal with when out on the fishing grounds. The great news is that when boats do get enough of a break in the weather to venture out onto the tuna grounds, they continue to find good bluefin fishing.


The windy weather spell has been going on for weeks and it makes me wonder if we might be going through some sort of underlying change in our weather pattern that might transition us into a cycle to bring albacore back to our local offshore waters? Wouldn’t that be fun!


The bluefin ranged in size from 15 to 265 pounds with most fish in the 25 to 40-pound range. In recent days the numbers of larger sized fish have increased reports of 100 to 180-pound bluefin thrown in the mix and even bigger fish in the 265-pound range.


The best of the bluefin fishing continues to be found during the hours of the dark with flat fall jigs, knife jigs and sinker rigged sardines working best for the night time fishing. During daylight hours, flat fall jigs, knife jigs, sinker rigged sardines, flylined sardines and Colt Snipers have been effective. Daylight hours have also produced an occasional bluefin on the troll with recent reports of scattered bluefin troll fish caught on spreader bar rigs and cedar plugs.


Bluefin have been found over a vast area ranging from the 9 Mile Bank on down to the offshore waters outside of Ensenada. The best fishing has been found outside of Ensenada for boats fishing around the 295 Bank, 480 Spot, 385 Spot, the Boot Bank (the bank where the 238 Spot is located) and in the deep water about half way between the Boot Bank and the Banda Bank. The recent movement of bluefin has been in towards the coast and the best recent fishing has been in the deep water about halfway between Boot Bank and Banda Bank. This has you fishing down at 60 to 65 miles, 161 to 164 degrees from Point Loma.


Boats fishing areas within 45 miles of Point Loma are also finding bluefin activity and are catching a few including some of the larger fish up to 180-plus pounds. The best areas have been the 230 Spot, the 371 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank. As an example of the most recent fishing, on their last trip, San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had 34 anglers on a full day trip catch 6 bluefin tuna ranging 80 to 170 pounds.


There have not been many boats fishing around Los Coronado Islands lately with most skippers choosing to fish offshore waters for bluefin tuna. There have been a few private boater reports from Los Coronado Islands and there has been good fishing for reds, whitefish, an assortment of rockfish, pretty good numbers of calico bass, and an occasional yellowtail.


Most of the yellowtail activity has been found around North Island and at the Middle Grounds. Meter marks and spots of breezing fish have produced an occasional yellowtail on sardines or iron around North Island and there have been a few yellowtail biting on trolled Rapalas at the Middle Grounds.


Yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands have ranged from 12 to 25 pounds. Try yo-yo iron and dropper loop fished sardines when you locate yellowtail down deep and try surface iron and flylined sardines when you locate yellows near the surface. Good choices for yo-yoed iron include Salas 6X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in the blue and white color combination and in scrambled egg colors. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in the blue and white color combination, mint and sardine colors.


There have been a few calico bass biting at kelp bed areas around South Island and the best zones for bottom fish species have been around the Rockpile and at hard bottom areas north and the northwest of North Island. A good depth range for the bottom fish fishing has been 20 to 50 fathoms.


Fishing along San Diego County’s coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin, whitefish, and an occasional lingcod. The coastal yellowtail fishing and the halibut fishing have been slow.


The water along the coast has been warming up into the middle 60’s which has helped to improve calico bass activity in kelp bed areas. A couple of kelp bed areas that have had improving numbers of calico bass biting have been the kelp at the Green Tank at Point Loma and the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla. There has also been some improved calico bass activity reported around the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor.


La Jolla has been the best area to try and locate yellowtail along San Diego’s coast but the yellowtail activity has yet to rebound after the showings of yellows slowed down after a drop in the water temperature that occurred a few weeks ago. The water temperature has warmed back up into the middle 60’s so anglers have reason to hope that consistent showings of yellowtail will begin sometime soon.


Areas where yellowtail tend to show in the La Jolla region are off Pacific Beach, off the upper end of La Jolla, and off Torrey Pines. A good depth to look has been 18 to 30 fathoms. Best bet once yellowtail are located has been to try surface iron or yo-yo iron. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X Jr. and Salas 6X jigs in the blue and white color combination. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in sardine colors, the blue and white color combination and mint.


The best areas for rockfish fishing along the coast as listed from the south to the north have been the International Reef, the hard bottom to the west of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, and Box Canyon.


Halibut fishing continues to be slow with an occasional halibut being reported. In recent weeks there have been halibut caught in areas including Imperial Beach, San Diego Bay, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach, the sandy bottom next to the sunken NEL Tower 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.


Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported doing a fun shakedown trip to Catalina before venturing out on an offshore tuna adventure. Golding got to Catalina around noon with some lively sardines that he got from the San Pedro Bait Company bait receiver. They anchored up at a calico bass spot in the Salta Verde region and started catching and releasing short and legal sized calico bass and short sized barracuda. Out of nowhere Golding said he got bit by a much larger fish that broke him off on the 20 pound test spinning outfit he was using for the calicos. Golding’s boat partner Steve Kunitake also got bit by a larger fish that was also lost. Golding decided to convert his 60 pound test jig rod outfit to fish live bait with a 60 pound fluorocarbon leader. He put out a sardine on that jig casting outfit and it did not take long to get bit and the end result was boating a 43-pound white seabass.


Golding said they fished from 12 to 3 p.m. and caught the 43-pound white seabass and also caught and released lots of calico bass and four short sized barracuda. The Last Buck ran great on it’s first of the season shakedown trip and what started out as a leisurely trip to run the boat and have some fun with catching and releasing calico bass resulted in Golding catching his personal best ever white seabass of 43 pounds. Congratulations Tom!


The spring fishing season is providing more days of windy weather than most people expected but the very good news is that the bluefin tuna bite has held up strong during the windy weather and has seen increased numbers of larger sized bluefin up to 265 pounds in the mix. I hope the windy weather backs off sometime soon and that you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the spring time 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 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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