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San Diego Fish Report: Bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail, dorado, and striped marlin on the offshore menu

The recent offshore fishing has been good for a mixed bag of bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, and yellowtail, with striped marlin starting to bite better as well.

The past couple of days have seen a dip in the hot bite offshore fishing but there are still bluefin, yellowfin, dorado, yellowtail, and striped marlin around and biting. In all likelihood, it is only just a matter of time before these fish pop up again in big numbers, and that we see the hot bite offshore fishing resume.

The bluefin tuna attract most of the attention and they have been nice-sized fish that have ranged from 15 to 200-plus pounds with most falling within the 25 to 80-pound range. Yellowfin tuna have been in the 15 to 40-pound class with most of the dorado ranging from 6 to 15 pounds and most of the yellowtail being in the 8 to 18-pound range.

Those wanting to focus on bluefin tuna fishing have been finding the best bluefin bite area to be up above the West End of San Clemente Island while fishing 3 to 12 miles northwest over to
southwest of the West End. There have also been scattered catches of bluefin that are mostly the 15 to 40-pound fish made by boats fishing other areas incidental to primarily targeting dorado and yellowtail.

Some of the bluefin hookups have come from stopping alongside of spots of breaking fish, foaming fish, or breezing fish and casting poppers, Colt Snipers, stick baits, or surface iron to the bluefin before they sound. There have also been bluefin biting from stopping and drifting on sonar marks, meter marks, and spots of breezing, breaking, or foaming fish.

When boats are drifting, bluefin have been biting on flylined live sardines and live mackerel and on rubber band tor-
pedo sinker rigged live sardines and live mackerel.

Kite or balloon fishing has also been effective while drifting and fishing with frozen flying fish, live sardines, or live mackerel.

Bluefin have been biting both day and night with some of the best fishing coming in the dark. When fishing sonar marks or meter marks found in the dark, Flat Fall jigs, knife jigs, and sinker rigged live baits have been most effective.

During daylight hours, trolling can also produce a bluefin strike with spreader bar rigs, daisy chain rigs, and cedar plugs getting occasional bites on the troll. In other areas, the fishing for a mix of dorado, yellowtail, and an occasional bonus yellowfin tuna or bluefin tuna has been good but is also experiencing a current dip in the hot bite level of action.

There are some dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin and bluefin around and biting though and anglers are anticipating that the big numbers of fish will pop up again sometime soon and resume the good bite levels that were going on before the current dip in the action.

Areas providing the mixed bag catches of dorado, yellowtail, and a chance at a bonus bluefin or yellowfin have been widespread and are scattered from Catalina on down to the offshore waters below and outside of Los Coronado Islands.

Productive areas have been in the region of the 277 Spot, the 267 Spot, the 209 Spot, the 181 Spot, the 312 Spot, the 178 Spot, the 138 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, the area 3 to 15 miles off the stretch of coast between Point Loma and Laguna Beach, the 101 Spot, the 425 Bank, the 371 Bank, the Upper Hidden Bank, and the 475 Knuckle. Most of the fish in these areas have been caught around kelp paddies with some yellowfin also biting from porpoise schools and an occasional yellowfin or bluefin also caught from spots of breaking fish or from blind trolling strikes.

The mixed bag kelp paddy dorado and yellowtail fishing has been in some areas that are close enough to the coast to allow some boats that are out on half and three-quarter day trips to fish offshore waters and get in on the offshore fishing excitement.

Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing
and the Oceanside Sea Center reported about fishing a recent three-quarter day trip in offshore waters.

Cacciola said they worked offshore water between Oceanside and Encinitas and that they found 6 kelp paddies.

Cacciola’s report was that four of the kelp paddies were empty with no fish around and that the fifth paddy they found had 2 small dorado cruising around it that did not want to bite. The sixth kelp paddy proved to be the charm and was loaded
with hungry dorado.

Cacciola’s group of 9 anglers got to experience some frenzied offshore dorado fishing and were able to catch 20 dorado from the hot kelp paddy bite.

Striped marlin fishing has improved with some marlin being caught and released by boats fishing the Ridge in the areas of the 181 Spot and the 138 Spot as well as while fishing off Church Rock at the East End of Catalina, 4 to 12 miles off Oceanside and 3 to 7 miles off La Jolla.

The area ranging from 4 to 7 miles off La Jolla is the current best bite area.

A positive sign about the marlin fishing is that when someone reports seeing a marlin there is often more than one fish seen at the same time.

This has resulted in some instances of having double hookups going at the same time.

Most of the marlin action has been coming on the troll.

The yellowtail fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been good to sometimes very good with some limit catches of yellowtail being reported.

The overall fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been impressive with a mix of yellowtail, calico bass, bonito, barracuda, reds, rockfish, and an occasional bluefin tuna being reported.

The best yellowtail bite areas around Los Coronado Islands have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the weather side of South Island, and the Rockpile. Yellowtail have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, spots of fish up on the surface, trolling strikes on deep diving Rapalas, and trolling strikes on slow trolled sardines.

Good choices for surface iron that work well for yellowtail and barracuda include Salas 7X lights and Tady 45’s in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.

Slow trolled sardines have been one of the best ways for private boaters to try and locate biting yellowtail, bonito, barracuda, and calico bass.

The slow trolled sardines also work well for fishing the area of biting fish once they are located.

The San Diego County coast is producing good fishing for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, rockfish, reds, whitefish, sheepshead, and sculpin.

There has also been a chance at scratching out a yellowtail at La Jolla. Some areas of cool 62 to 66-degree water have been showing up in spots along the San Diego County coast and the cool water has not been helping the surface fishing.

Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports fishing kelp bed areas between Solana Beach and Del Mar and finding good fishing for calico bass, short sized barracuda (that are released), whitefish, reds, and rockfish.

Cacciola says they do best with the kelp bed fishing when they have had the smaller sized 4 to 5.5-inch sardines in their bait supply. In addition to the kelp bed fishing, there has also been good fishing in deep water for reds and an assortment of rockfish.

The best bottom fishing has been found at hard bottom spots off Leucadia, Solana Beach, and Del Mar.

Calico bass have been providing the best surface fishing along with the San Diego County coast and productive kelp bed and hard bottom areas for calicos have been the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the 5 Tanks at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, Point Loma College, the Roundhouse at Sunset Cliffs, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, and the Barn.

The yellowtail fishing along the San Diego area coast continues to be slow with recent days seeing a bit of improvement for boats fishing the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla where there have also been a few bonito and good numbers of calico bass biting.

The halibut fishing provides an occasional legal-sized fish and the best areas for a chance at a halibut have been the sandy bottom off Mission Beach around the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck and around the sunken NEL Tower.

Other places along the San Diego County coast where halibut have been reported have been Imperial Beach, San Diego Bay, 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 summer fishing season continues to provide fun fish-
ing for a variety of warm water pelagic species.

Make it a point to savor and enjoy this fantastic time of year.
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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