Bluefin, Yellowfin, Dorado, Yellowtail and Marlin Biting Offshore!

SAN DIEGO— The Southern California saltwater angler currently has a lot of great options to choose from in planning a day of fishing be it offshore, at the Islands or along the coast. The offshore fishing continues to grab most of the headlines with bluefin and yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail, and striped marlin biting.

On the offshore fishing front bluefin tuna continue to lead the way with bluefin to 200-plus pounds being reported from the offshore waters off San Clemente and Catalina Islands. Productive bluefin bites have been found in the region of the 499 Spot, the Snail Bank, the Mackerel Bank, four to 10 miles to the northwest and the west-northwest of the West End of San Clemente Island, the area four to six miles to the southwest of the West End of San Clemente Island and four to eight miles outside of the Seal Cove region off the back side of San Clemente Island. Of all those locations, the area four to 10 miles to the northwest of the West End of San Clemente Island is currently the best.

Bluefin continue to be caught both day and night with knife jigs and sinker rigged sardines working well in the dark and with Nomad Madmac jigs, spreader bar rigs, sardines, mackerel, kite fished flying fish and poppers being top producers during the day. Bluefin have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breaking, breezing or foaming fish.

A recent private boater report was of catching six bluefin on trolled Nomad Madmac jigs while fishing at the Snail Bank off the back side of Catalina.  They had one fish in excess of 200 pounds, three fish that were in the 150-pound class and two fish that were in the 30-to-50-pound range.

Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported fishing a recent trip to the Snail Bank where they caught two bluefin out of three hookups. One of the boated bluefin was a 100-plus pound fish that bit on a Nomad Madmac jig and the second boated fish was a 60-pound fish that bit on a flylined sardine. What was most exciting was that the big bluefin caught on the Nomad Madmac jig bit while the boat was stopped, and they were winding the jig to the boat. It was quite the thrill to have the bite happen right next to the nonmoving boat. Golding reported finding the bluefin biting in water temperature ranging from 69.19 degrees to 69.44 degrees.

The Catalina region has also been producing good dorado fishing from kelp paddies and spots of breezing fish that are usually marked by working tern birds. Sardines and small mackerel have been working for the dorado which have also bit on small jigs and small trolling feathers. Productive dorado areas have been the Avalon Bank, the 277 Spot, the 152 Spot, the 14 Mile Bank, the 267 Spot, the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel, the 181 Spot, the 289 Spot, the 209 Spot and the 312 Spot. The area 4 to 8 miles to the northeast of the 209 Spot has been one of the best.

In the San Diego region, there has been good mixed bag fishing on 30-to-100-pound bluefin tuna, 10-to-60-pound yellowfin tuna, 5-to-18-pound dorado and 8-to-20-pound yellowtail. Productive areas local to San Diego include 4 to 15 miles west of La Jolla, the 178 Spot, the entirety of the 9 Mile Bank, the Coronado Canyon, the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot, the area 2 to 8 miles to the west and southwest of North Island, the 425 Bank, the 371 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank.

What has been amazing is that there have been dorado, bluefin and yellowfin caught inside of the 9 Mile Bank fishing just four to six miles off Point Loma. There have been dorado and tuna close enough to Point Loma to where some of the half day trips out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay have been able to get in on the fun offshore fishing. Kelp paddies have been producing most of the dorado and yellowtail with some spots of breezing dorado to be found with no kelp paddy involved. Most of the tuna have been caught from meter marks, sonar marks and spots of breezing, breaking or foaming fish.

Private boater Glen Jaffe of Relentless fished about five miles north of the 178 Spot and reported catching eight dorado and two yellowfin tuna. He said that about half of the kelp paddies they found were holding fish and that the rest were empty. All their dorado were caught around kelp paddies and their two yellowfin tuna were caught from baiting spots of breaking fish.

Private boater Bob Wallace reported finding a wide-open dorado bite from a kelp paddy found outside of the middle part of the 9 Mile Bank at 14 miles 251 degrees from Point Loma. The bite as being limit fishing on mixed sized dorado. After leaving the kelp paddy Wallace went out to the Ridge looking for tuna and found some dorado trolling strikes while fishing to the west-northwest of the 181 Spot at 39 miles 283 degrees from Point Loma.

Private boater, Captain Bob Woodard Jr. of Dropback took the new owner of a recently purchased boat out for a shakedown fishing trip to the 9 Mile Bank and reported catching 5 bluefin tuna and 1 yellowfin tuna. Their tuna ranged in size from 30 to 80 pounds. Woodard said they had to drop down to using 25- and 30-pound test fluorocarbon leaders and size number tw0 hooks to draw strikes from the touchy tuna and said they had some lost hookups due to the small hooks pulling out and the light leaders getting bit off during the fight.

Woodard reported that in the morning that they caught their tuna from stopping on meter marks that were being found 50 to 150 feet below the surface and baiting the meter marks with flylined sardines and sinker rigged sardines. During the later part of the day there were some fish up working on the surface and they were getting bit by stopping alongside of spots of breaking fish and using the same flylined and sinker rigged sardines that worked during the morning when baiting the meter marks.

Woodard fished another trip to the Coronado Canyon and 9 Mile Bank a couple of days later where they caught two bluefin tuna and five yellowfin tuna that went to 42 pounds. They caught their fish by working spots of working tern birds where there were not any breaking fish showing under the birds. He provided a valuable tip in saying that it helped to get bites if you watched the working birds to see which way they were moving before approaching to bait the spot. Once he determined which way the fish/birds were working he was able to maneuver the boat ahead of the fish and drop the baits in the water out ahead of the movement of the fish.

Striped marlin has also been providing offshore excitement with the area of the 286 Spot inside of the West End of Catalina Island being the best zone for a chance at a striped marlin. There have been feeders and tailers showing and some blind jig strikes are also being reported.

There has also been some recent marlin action outside of the V’s off the back side of Catalina as well as in the area 4 to 12 miles off the coast between Dana Point and Encinitas.  An occasional marlin hookup is also reported out in the tuna fleet while fishing areas off San Diego such as the 9 Mile Bank and out to the west of North Island. Most of the hookups in the tuna fleet are coming from baiting kelp paddies with sardines on tackle that is intended for dorado. Most of the kelp paddy marlin hookups are eventually lost due to the light leaders on the dorado gear.

The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been very good for a mix of yellowtail, calico bass, bonito, barracuda, and an assortment of bottom fish species. Some of the better days of fishing have produced near limit-to-limit numbers of yellowtail. The most recent sportboat trip was on Grande out of H&M Landing that had 36 anglers on a full day trip catch 30 yellowtail, 11 rockfish, 8 calico bass and 8 barracuda.

The best of the yellowtail fishing has been reported by boats fishing along the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, and the lee side of South Island. Private boaters report success on yellowtail while using flylined sardines, slow trolled sardines, surface iron and yo-yo iron.

The best spots for calico bass and barracuda have been at the kelp bed areas around South Island and at the Middle Grounds. Sardines and surface iron have been working well for calico bass and barracuda. Good choices for surface iron that would be good choices for calico bass, barracuda and yellowtail include Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in the blue and white color combination, mint, and sardine colors.

The surface fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, bonito, reds, whitefish, and rockfish. There has also been a chance at getting lucky and catching a nice sized yellowtail at La Jolla, Point Loma, or Imperial Beach. New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a recent morning half day trip that found some biting yellowtail and had 33 anglers on a half day trip catch 2 yellowtail, 24 calico bass and 100 calico bass that were released.

The San Diego County kelp bed calico bass fishing has been good since a recent warming of the water along the coast. Productive calico bass bite kelp bed areas have been at the upper part of Point Loma, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, and the Barn. When available, anchovies are the preferred bait for the calico bass which have also been biting well on sardines. There have been some flurries of sand bass activity off Imperial Beach. Try to locate sand bass meter marks out to the southwest of the Imperial Beach Pier in 70 to 80 feet as well as around the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline.  To add to the fun, there have been occasional flurries of action on 2-to-3-pound bonito being found off Imperial Beach and the kelp beds at Point Loma and La Jolla.

The upper end of La Jolla has been the best zone for a chance at a coastal yellowtail with yellows being located anywhere from the kelp line on out to 25 fathoms. Sardines, mackerel, and surface iron have been good choices for yellowtail. Private boaters have also had success when slow trolling mackerel or sardines. Good choices for surface iron include Tady 45’s and Salas 7 X lights in blue & white, sardine and mint colors.

The halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast has been fair. Areas that have been providing a chance at a halibut 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 fishing season is proving to be awesome with bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail, calico bass, and striped marlin providing fun fishing be it offshore, at the Islands or along the coast. I hope you can get out on the water and get in on the 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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