SAN DIEGO — The spring fishing season has provided quite a few days of windy weather and rough sea conditions but through it all, most of the fishable weather days have seen bluefin tuna, yellowtail and bonito biting in offshore waters within 25 to 50 miles of Point Loma. Skippers and anglers are hoping that the bite will break wide open once the weather settles down and the ocean conditions have a chance to stabilize.
Bluefin tuna have been the highlight species and most catches ran between 15 and 110 pounds. The occasional bigger fish caught surpassed the 200-pound mark. Yellowtail catches have been running from 3 to 14 pounds, with most in the 3- to 6-pound range. Bonito have been in the 6- to 10-pound class. Yellowfin tuna have also recently entered the offshore fishing picture with a 40-pound yellowfin tuna recently reported being caught by private boater Craig Boegler of Gooey Duck.
Recent areas producing offshore tuna action have been between 27 and 50 miles from Point Loma for boats working the region of the 390 Bank, the inner high spot at the Upper Hidden Bank, the 475 Knuckle and the 101 Spot.
Bluefin action has been originating from stopping on spots of breaking fish, spots of puddling fish, meter marks, sonar marks, kelp paddies and the occasional bluefin trolling strike. A couple of productive trolling jigs have been cedar plugs and a Halco 130 in the purple tiger stripe color pattern. Sardines, Flat Fall jigs, Colt Snipers and surface iron have been effective when in a bluefin stop.
Sardines are best bets for yellowtail bites. Anglers can find yellowtail biting from kelp paddies and the occasional blind trolling strike. Bonito have been caught from trolling strikes, stopping on spots of breaking fish and kelp paddies. Once located, the bonito have been biting best on sardines.
Boegler of Gooey Duck reported about a recent trip where he started his day of fishing in the area between the Upper Hidden Bank and the 475 Knuckle at about 35 miles from Point Loma. He reported he did not see much life in that area and that the other boats working the area did not seem to be doing much.
The most recent sportboat counts are from April 30. A three-quarter-day jaunt aboard San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had 43 anglers and brought back seven bluefin tuna and one bonito. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Tribute out on an overnight trip with 13 anglers catching 17 yellowtail.
Malihini out of H&M Landing had a three-quarter-day trip with 14 anglers; the boat came back to shore with one bluefin tuna. H&M Landing also had Legend fishing an overnight trip with 14 anglers and 70 yellowtail caught.
Fisherman’s Landing had Prowler out on an overnight trip with 19 anglers. Prowler returned to shore with 12 yellowtail and eight bluefin tuna.
Point Loma Sportfishing had Mission Belle out fishing on a three-quarter-day trip with 20 anglers and returned home with one bluefin tuna. Point Loma Sportfishing also had New Lo An. Chubasco 2 with Chubasco II Sportfishing ran a three-quarter-day trip with 27 anglers. The trip yielded one bluefin tuna and 12 yellowtail.
There have been occasional boats fishing around Los Coronado Islands but most boats have been fishing offshore waters for tuna, yellowtail and bonito. The few reports coming from Los Coronado Islands have been of some good numbers of rockfish biting along with the possibility of finding some yellowtail action. The north end of South Island and the weather side of North Island have been the best areas for a chance at locating yellowtail.
The yellowtail action at Los Coronado Islands has been scratchy.
The water in the La Jolla region is mostly off color but the La Jolla area still provides a chance at catching a nice sized yellowtail or white sea bass. There were reports of a 30-pound white sea bass being caught by a private boater fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla and a 40-pound class white sea bass hooked and lost by an angler fishing around spots of bait found off Pacific Beach.
Halibut fishing remains scratchy along the San Diego County coast but there has been occasional halibut activity reported during the spring season. One of the better areas has been fishing for halibut in San Diego Bay. Most of the halibut being reported caught in the bay have been short-sized fish but there have also been some legal sized halibut in the mix.
Spots where occasional halibut activity has been reported in recent weeks have been the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, the sandy bottom adjacent to the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach and the Golf Balls above Oceanside.
The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been producing some pretty good to sometimes good fishing for a mixed bag of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and rockfish. Productive rockfish areas have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the west and the northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the 270 out to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.
Boats fishing Catalina Island have been finding good mixed bag fishing for calico bass, rockfish and bonito and have also been finding an occasional flurry of yellowtail and white sea bass action.
The spring fishing season has been producing some nice fish despite the unsettling pressure of quite a few days of windy weather and high seas, I am thinking the spring time bites will be ready to explode once the weather backs off so the water conditions can settle and improve. 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 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.