By: Bob Vanian
San Diego area anglers are hoping that Summer 2012 will be a bounce-back season for offshore fishing, after the past two rather difficult seasons. First signs look promising, as the season has started with a bang: Bluefin tuna and yellowtail have been biting in offshore waters outside Punta Colnett, about 115 miles south of Point Loma.
Royal Star, out of Fisherman’s Landing, first found the area of fish while on the first day of a 2.5-day trip. Yellowtail and bluefin tuna were biting, and anglers aboard ended their first day of fishing with 36 bluefin and limits of yellowtail.
The word of their catch spread quickly — and the next day, several boats that were fishing 1.5-day trips ran down to the area. They also found yellowtail and bluefin biting.
Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor, out of Fisherman’s Landing, was one of those boats that ran to the area on the day after Royal Star made the initial catch. Meisel reported that his 12 anglers caught their limits of 60 yellowtail, plus three bluefin tuna.
Meisel reported excellent water conditions, with 63- to 64-degree pristine-looking “purple blue” water throughout the zone where they were catching their fish. The water looked so nice that Meisel said he was surprised no one had yet caught an albacore from the area.
Meisel added that he was encouraged by the fact that bluefin were seen over a large area — and he said that there was about a 90-minute time period where they were going from one spot of breaking or breezing bluefin to another.
Capt. Mark Oronoz of Pacific Voyager, out of Seaforth Sportfishing, ran the most recent 1.5-day trip to the tuna grounds. He posted the best tuna count of the young season to date, with a catch of 53 bluefin tuna and 50 yellowtail.
Oronoz reported finding that the kelp paddies were holding both bluefin tuna and yellowtail — and he said that every paddy they stopped on was holding fish. This was a change from prior reports that said the kelp paddies were holding yellowtail and the bluefin were being found away from the kelp paddies near spots of breezing or breaking fish.
The bluefin holding near kelp paddies proved to be good biters, and Oronoz reported getting into a long bait stop that he referred to as a “long drift.” It produced a “steady plunker” bite. Their bluefin were running from 25 to 30 pounds, and the yellowtail they caught were in the 8- to 12-pound class.
Boats fishing at Los Coronados islands have been finding a mixed bag of yellowtail, barracuda, calico bass, sculpin and rockfish biting. The fishing for the surface species has been off a bit from the fishing of recent weeks, but there are still some calico bass, barracuda and yellowtail around and biting.
Water conditions remain good, with 64 to 65 degree clean water being reported. The current has been on the mild side during the past few days, and skippers believe the surface fishing will improve considerably, once the current picks up.
The best areas for surface fishing at Los Coronados islands have been the Rockpile, the South Kelp and the Ribbon Kelp. Much of the recent fishing has been done aboard anchored boats.
Some of the best fishing in the region has been inside of Los Coronados islands at the Flats area, outside of the Bull Ring at Tijuana. Sand bass and barracuda have been biting at the Flats, and there have also been occasional flurries of action on large white seabass.
Most of the white seabass have been in the 40- to 55-pound range, and a 65.5-pound white seabass was caught aboard a recent trip on Chubasco II, with Chubasco 2 Sportfishing.
The best depth for fishing at the Flats has been in 12 to 14 fathoms of water. Some of the better days of fishing have produced near-limit to limit fishing for barracuda and sand bass.
Boats fishing kelp bed areas along the San Diego County coast have been finding improved surface fishing for calico bass and barracuda, and they have also been picking up a mixed bag of sand bass, sculpin and rockfish. The fishing along the coast has also been providing a chance at catching a bonus yellowtail or white seabass.
The best zone for a shot at a yellowtail or white seabass has been at the upper end of La Jolla. Try for the yellows and white seabass from just outside of the kelp line, out to depths of 18 fathoms.
Productive kelp bed areas in the Point Loma region include the kelp at the Point Loma Lighthouse, the Dropoff, the Green Tank and Point Loma College. Boats fishing at La Jolla have been finding their best action while fishing the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla.
In North San Diego County the best action has been coming from the kelp beds at Solana Beach and Leucadia, for anglers fishing just above and just below the Marine Protected Area fishing closure zone.
Bob Vanian is the voice, writer and researcher of the San Diego-based Internet fish report service 976-Bite at 976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service at (619) 226-8218. Vanian’s reports can be heard at 8:20 a.m. each Sunday on the “Let’s Talk Hookup” radio show, at 1090 AM. He always welcomes your fish reports at (619) 226-8218.