NewsletterFish Rap

Bluefin Tuna and Yellowtail Continuing to Highlight Spring Fishing

SAN DIEGO— Southern California offshore anglers have been enjoying a fine spring fishing season to date, and what was already good fishing has continued to improve as we approach the middle part of May with a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowtail, and large bonito biting in offshore waters.

Catches of bluefin tuna continue to grab the spotlight with the late winter and early spring season producing bluefin catches that have gone up into the 200-plus pound class, current fishing producing bluefin that have been for the most part ranging from 20 to 120-plus pounds. Most of the yellowtail found around offshore kelp paddies have been in the 6-to-15-pound range and most of the bonito being caught offshore have been in the 8-to-12-pound range.

The current areas producing good fishing for bluefin tuna, yellowtail, and bonito have been the area to the east of the 267 Spot that is located easterly of the Tanner Bank, the western wing of the Butterfly Bank, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy, the San Salvador Knoll, the 230 Spot, the deep water outside of the 224 Spot, and the deepwater about halfway between the backside of South Island and the 302 Spot.  This has boat fishing areas that are spread from 18 to 70 miles 215 to 250 degrees from Point Loma.

Some recent highlight fish counts start with Seaforth Sportfishing having today’s full-day trip aboard San Diego return with 28 anglers having caught 50 bluefin tuna that were in the 20-to-60-pound range. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Tribute return from a 1.5-day trip with 32 anglers having caught 42 bluefin tuna, 65 bonito, and 5 yellowtail.

Point Loma Sportfishing had Mission Belle out fishing a full day trip and 14 anglers caught 23 bluefin tuna and 6 yellowtail.  Point Loma Sportfishing also had American Angler return from a 1.5-day trip with 28 anglers having caught their limits of 56 bluefin tuna that ranged from 18 to 119 pounds.

Fisherman’s Landing reported that today’s full day trip aboard Liberty had 36 anglers catch 43 bluefin tuna that went to 70 pounds. Fisherman’s Landing also had Pacific Queen return from a 1.5-day trip with 34 anglers catching their limits of 68 bluefin tuna along with 34 yellowtail.  Most of their bluefin were in the 20-to-60-pound range and they also had 9 bluefin that were up in the 100-to-120-pound range.  Fisherman’s Landing also had Tomahawk and Pegasus return home from 1.5-day trips with catches that included limits of bluefin tuna and Condor’s 1.5-day trip returned with 29 anglers having caught 22 bluefin tuna and 82 yellowtail.

Ollie at H&M Landing reports that Grande fished a full-day trip with 32 anglers who caught 27 bluefin tuna and 5 yellowtail. He also reports that Old Glory returned home from a 1.5-day trip where 30 anglers caught 51 bluefin tuna and 6 yellowtail. Another report was that Legend returned home from a recent 1.5-day trip with limits of bluefin tuna which was 36 bluefin tuna and 3 yellowtail. Red Rooster III returned home from a 1.5-day trip where they had 30 anglers catch their limits of 60 bluefin tuna.

Bluefin are being located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, spots of breezing fish, spots of breaking fish, and spots of working birds. Once bluefin are located they have been biting well on Flat Fall jigs, Colt Snipers, fly lined sardines, and sardines fished with a 4-ounce torpedo sinker.

The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has not been sampled much lately with most Skippers choosing to fish for the bluefin tuna, yellowtail, and bonito in local offshore waters. The most recent reports about the fishing at Los Coronado Islands are that the surface fishing has been slow and that there has been good fishing for bottom fish species such as reds, whitefish, and rockfish to go with an occasional lingcod.

The best area for the bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands continues to be at the hard bottom to the northwest and north of North Island in 30 to 50 fathoms. Also, try the hard bottom to the northeast and the east of North Island in 20 to 30 fathoms and along the outside dropoff of the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 50 fathoms.

The best areas for trying to scratch out a yellowtail in recent weeks have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the Flats, and the backside of South Island.  Recent weeks have also seen some calico bass biting at areas such as the South Kelp, the Ribbon Kelp, the north end of South Island, the Middle Grounds, the backside of South Island, and Pukey Point at North Island.

Yellowtail have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, spots of fish under working birds, trolling strikes on deep diving Rapalas, fly lined sardines, slow trolled sardines, and sardines fished on a dropper loop rig.

Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and Salas 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white, blue and chrome, and scrambled egg. Good choices for surface iron include Salas 7X lights and Tady 45’s in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of rockfish, reds, whitefish, sculpin, sand bass, calico bass, and an occasional bonus lingcod, yellowtail or halibut.

The best area for a chance at a yellowtail along the San Diego County coast has been fishing off the upper end of La Jolla. There have been occasional showings of yellowtail in the area and if you are fortunate enough to be at the right spot at the right time when some yellows decide to show, there has been a chance at hooking a 15-to-20-pound class yellowtail. Surface iron, yo-yo iron, and slow trolled mackerel have been good choices to try for the occasional yellowtail hookup that has been coming from the upper end of La Jolla.

Calico bass fishing has been improving at the coastal kelp bed areas with the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, and the kelp outside of the Roundhouse at Sunset Cliffs being the most productive areas for the calicos. When available, live anchovies have been the best bait for the calicos.  When I spoke with Ollie at H&M Landing earlier today, he reported that Premier had a good morning of bass and rockfish fishing on their morning half-day trip on Mother’s Day morning with 22 anglers catching 83 rockfish, 6 sculpin, 17 calico bass, and 6 sand bass.  Today’s afternoon half-day trip on New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had one of the best calico bass bites of the spring season and they had a catch of 29 anglers catching 77 calico bass and 1 sheepshead.

Productive hard bottom and structure areas for the reds, rockfish, whitefish, and lingcod are the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the International Reef, the Whistler Buoy and the Dropoff outside of Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, “The 270” out to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, the ridge outside of Del Mar and at hard bottom areas off South Carlsbad, Leucadia and Box Canyon.

Productive areas for sand bass, calico bass, and sculpin include the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the kelp off the Green Tank at Point Loma, the kelp off Sunset Cliffs, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

The halibut fishing remains scratchy with an occasional halibut being reported.  Sandy bottom areas next to structure or next to hard bottom have been producing a halibut now and then and some of the better areas have been outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach, the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, outside of South Ponto Beach, the Buccaneer Pipeline and the artificial reefs off Oceanside.

The spring surface fishing continues to be led by the good fishing for bluefin tuna, yellowtail, and bonito in offshore waters. The yellowtail fishing has been lagging behind at the Coronado Islands and along the coast but there is still plenty of good fun fishing to be found for calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin, and whitefish. 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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