The fall fishing season continues to battle weather systems that have brought strong winds, high seas, and rain. There is yet another weather system passing through Southern California right now as I am preparing this report that has brought Small Craft Advisory grade weather. What has been impressive is that to date, the weather systems have not delivered a knockout blow to the offshore fishing season and that we still have bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, skipjack, and dorado to target.
When the weather allows boats to get out to the Cortes and Tanner Banks there have been nice sized bluefin tuna biting that go to 200-plus pounds. Two recent sportboat counts aboard trips targeting bluefin were Pride out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had 11 anglers on a 1.75-day trip catch five bluefin tuna. Fortune out of Fisherman’s Landing recently had 16 anglers on a two-day trip catch 22 bluefin tuna. Fisherman’s Landing reported that the catch of bluefin aboard Fortune included jumbo sized fish that went to 200 pounds.
The best bluefin area has been fishing the deep water to the northeast of the high spot at the Tanner Bank. The Cortes Bank has also been producing bluefin and in recent days the best activity at the Cortes Bank has been found to the southeast of the 9 Fathom Spot and to the northeast of the 9 Fathom Spot.
Most of the bluefin have been caught while drifting over meter marks or sonar marks with occasional spots of breezing fish also leading to bluefin stops. Best baits for the bluefin have been sardines, kite fished frozen flying fish, flat fall jigs, and knife jigs. At last report, the water temperature at the Cortes and Tanner Banks were running about 65 degrees. It will be interesting to see how the water temperature holds up through the current storm.
Boats fishing the local offshore banks below and outside of Los Coronado Islands have been finding fair to good numbers of 4 to 12-pound yellowtail biting around kelp paddies and have also been finding an occasional flurry of bluefin tuna or yellowfin tuna activity. The tuna in this sector have been caught from sonar marks, meter marks, spots of breaking fish, and porpoise schools.
The best specific areas for the mixed bag fishing for yellowtail and a few tuna at local offshore banks outside of Los Coronado Islands have been the 230 Spot, the 371 Bank, the 475 Knuckle and the Upper Hidden Bank. Further down the coast of Mexico there has been similar fishing found around some offshore areas outside of Ensenada such as out to the southwest of Todos Santos Island, out to the southwest of the Banda Bank and out to the southwest of the Peanut Bank. The water temperature in these areas has been running from 66 to 67 degrees and it will be interesting to see what will happen to the water temperature and the fishing as the current weather system passes through Southern California and Northern Baja.
Boats on multi-day trips have been fishing areas further down the coast of Mexico and have been finding good to very good fishing while working from the region of the Boot Bank that is located to the southwest of Punta Colnett on down to the area out to the west and northwest of San Martin Island. This zone has you fishing from 110 to 135 miles 151 to 156 degrees from Point Loma. Big numbers of yellowfin tuna have been highlighting the fishing down this way and there have also been a good number of yellowtail and skipjack biting along with a few dorado. Most of the yellowfin have been in the 10 to 40-pound range and the yellowfin have been biting from blind trolling strikes, kelp paddies, spots of breezing fish and porpoise schools. The right bait stop can go wide open and produce limits of yellowfin tuna.
It has been over a week since there have been any reports of marlin activity but there have been some swordfish biting for boats that have been deep drop fishing at the 9 Mile Bank and at the coastal dropoff outside of La Jolla. I would estimate that two swordfish have been caught over the past week by boats fishing with deep drop sportfishing gear.
The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been good but the surface fishing has been just fair with a few bonito biting to go with a chance at scratching out a yellowtail. Some cool water has been pushing out off the beach and has now reached the area from the Rockpile up to the north end of South Island. The cooling of the water has slowed the surface fishing in those areas. The warmest water has been found around the Middle Grounds and North Island and those have been the best places to look for surface fishing activity. The few bonito being caught have been found off the weather side of North Island. The Middle Grounds and the weather side of North Island have been the best places to try to scratch out a yellowtail.
The bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of reds, salmon grouper, whitefish and assorted rockfish. A recent sportboat trip on Malihini out of H&M Landing fished Los Coronado Islands and had 20 anglers on a full day trip catch 65 rockfish, 60 whitefish, 45 reds and 40 salmon grouper. Best areas for the bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands have been at hard bottom areas to the west and the northwest of North Island in 30 to 50 fathoms.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mixed bag of reds, rockfish, whitefish, sculpin and a few bass. The fishing for yellowtail along the coast remains slow with the best chance at scratching out a San Diego area coastal yellowtail being at the upper end of La Jolla.
Productive areas for the mixed bag coastal fishing have been the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, 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 off 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.
Halibut fishing has been scratchy with an occasional halibut being reported from the sandy bottom around the Yukon Shipwreck and the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach. Other areas where halibut have been caught in recent weeks have been Imperial Beach, outside of South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the Buccaneer Pipeline and the sandy bottom next to the artificial reefs off Oceanside
The fall offshore fishing season has been hanging in there despite a round of early northern weather fronts. It will be interesting to see what things are like after the current storm passes through. I hope you can get out on the water and enjoy some fun fall 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.