SAN DIEGO⸺ The arrival of spring did not disappoint Southern California anglers as the new season has brought with it good offshore fishing for bluefin tuna, steadily improving yellowtail fishing around Los Coronado Islands, and a continuation of the good mixed bag fishing for bass, sculpin, reds, rockfish and whitefish to go with a chance at scoring a bonus halibut, lingcod or white seabass along the coast.
The big news comes from offshore waters as the past weekend saw vastly improved bluefin tuna fishing on fish ranging from 40 to 197 pounds. Some highlight fish counts from the past weekend of offshore fishing start with Polaris Supreme out of Seaforth Sportfishing that was out on a three-day trip and returned with a catch of 110 bluefin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing reports the majority of the fish aboard Polaris Supreme were in the 50-to-150-pound range and they had at least 14 bluefin aboard ranging from 100 to 150 pounds.
Point Loma Sportfishing had New Lo-An get back from a two-day trip with 22 anglers catching 20 bluefin tuna ranging up to 197 pounds.
Fisherman’s Landing reports having Fortune out on a 1.5-day trip returning 20 bluefin tuna for their 10 anglers. Most of the bluefin aboard Fortune were in the 60-to-80-pound range with 4 bluefin up over the 100-pound mark.
The best of the best of the bluefin fishing has been during the hours of dark and has come by fishing sonar marks with 300-to-500-gram size Flat Fall jigs and Knife jigs. Also productive for bluefin during the dark hours has been fishing with sinker rigged sardines. Private boaters should note that this sonar mark mode of fishing can be difficult on a private boat that is not equipped with scanning sonar.
Some of the bluefin action has also come during daylight hours and Fisherman’s Landing is reporting that Colt Snipers and blue and chrome jigs were working well for the Fortune during the daylight afternoon hours. In addition, there have also been some bluefin caught during daylight hours that have bit on flylined sardines, sinker rigged sardines and trolled Halco plugs.
The bluefin activity has been found over a widespread area ranging from the waters outside of Ensenada on up to the San Clemente Basin in the deep water to the southwest of the 43 Fathom Spot. Productive areas within that zone have been to the northeast of the Lower Hidden Bank, below the Upper Hidden Bank, the area between the Upper Hidden Bank and the 390 Bank, the 371 Bank, the Butterfly Bank, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy, the 43 Fathom Spot and in the San Clemente Basin to the southwest of the 43 Fathom Spot. Some of the kelp paddies found throughout this sector have also been holding yellowtail.
The yellowtail bite around Los Coronado Islands improved during the past week and the fishing around the Islands has also been good for an assortment of bottom fish species.
Some recent fish counts from the past few days of fishing start with San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had a full day trip with 35 anglers catch 50 yellowtail. Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing had a full day trip with 15 anglers catch 33 yellowtail. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a full day trip with 22 anglers catch 9 yellowtail and 50 rockfish. Grande out of H&M Landing had a full day trip with 28 anglers catch 12 yellowtail.
Most of the yellowtail have been found via scanning sonar around North Island with the weather side of North Island and the Pukey Point area being the best. There have also been occasional flurries of yellowtail activity found at the Middle Grounds and at the hard bottom to the northeast of North Island.
Similar to the bluefin fishing, private boaters who do not have scanning soar tend to be at a disadvantage with this type of fishing when compared to a sportboat or private boat that is equipped with scanning sonar. There has been some yellowtail caught via locating a meter mark with a traditional fathometer or by finding some fish up working on the surface so there have certainly been opportunities to get in on the yellowtail bite without having a scanning sonar.
The yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands have been running from 12 to 25 pounds and they have been biting best on yo-yoed iron. Good choices for yo-yo iron are Salas 6X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white and scrambled egg colors. There has also been occasional yellowtail activity found up on the surface and surface iron or flylined sardines would be a good way to go if you locate fish on top. Good choices for surface iron are Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.
In addition to yellowtail, there have been good numbers of reds, rockfish, salmon grouper and whitefish biting around Los Coronado Islands. One of the best areas for the bottom fishing has been at hard bottom spots to the north and the northwest of North Island in 30 to 50 fathoms. Another productive bottom fishing zone has been fishing hard bottom areas around the Rockpile in the 20 to 45 fathom depths.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mixed bag of reds, rockfish, whitefish, sculpin, sand bass and calico bass. The coastal fishing also continues to provide a chance at catching a bonus yellowtail, halibut, white seabass or lingcod.
Productive areas for the rockfish fishing as listed from the south to the north have been the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the southeast and to the west of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.
A mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin have been biting at hard bottom and structure spots. The best areas have been the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Lighthouse Ridge off Point Loma, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp off Pacific Beach, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs off Oceanside and Box Canyon.
The yellowtail fishing along the San Diego County coast has been slow in recent days but a zone that continues to provide a chance at a yellowtail has been off the stretch of coast between Pacific Beach and Torrey Pines. A good depth range has been in 18 to 30 fathoms and the yellows tend to show in areas where Skippers are seeing a lot of life in the way of birds, bait and porpoise. Even though the yellowtail fishing has been slow, there have been some yellowtail around and every once in a while, someone finds some breaking fish or gets a meter mark or sonar mark and catches a nice sized yellowtail.
Best bet once yellowtail is located has been to try surface iron or yo-yo iron. Good choices for yo-yo iron have been Salas 6X Jr. and Salas 6X jigs in the blue and white color combination. Good choices for surface iron have been Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in sardine colors, blue and white and in the mint color.
Halibut fishing has also been slow but places where occasional halibut have been caught include the sandy bottom around the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the area outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, 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.
Up at Catalina, there has been a bit of white seabass activity for boats fishing the eastern part of the back side of Catalina in areas ranging from the V’s on up to Freddie’s Beach. Much of what has been reported has come from fishing around kelp and rocky structure. A recent private boater report was of having caught 3 white seabass while drifting past rocky structure.
Live squid is the best bait for white seabass. Try to get squid at a mainland bait receiver, from a squid boat at Catalina or catching your own off the V’s. Try to raise a squid boat on VHF channels 11 or 72.
The spring fishing season is already providing good early season surface fishing for bluefin and yellowtail and the rest of the fishing for bass, sculpin, whitefish, reds, rockfish, and a chance at a white seabass, halibut or lingcod is also going well. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the early spring 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 email@example.com.