By: Bob Vanian
San Diego area anglers have a variety pack of species waiting for them offshore, as bluefin tuna, yellowtail, dorado and marlin are within easy reach of boats fishing on 1.5-day, overnight and three-quarter-day trips.
Areas being fished on overnight and 1.5-day trips have been ranging from up above the Inner Bank down to the region inside of the 1140 Finger. Boats have been fishing in an area spread from 50 to 90 miles, on a 155- to 165-degree heading from Point Loma. There is also a freshly located area of fish that is producing a higher percentage of bluefin tuna out by the 1010 Trench — in a 60 to 68 mile area, 178- to 192- degrees from Point Loma.
The bluefin tuna have been quality-size fish, with most in the 20- to 35-pound range and with a few bigger fish to 80 pounds starting to show in some of the stops. The yellowtail have been mixed-size fish that have been running between 5 and 30 pounds, with a decent percentage of the bigger 20- to 30-pound fish in the mix. The dorado have weighed from 8 to 20 pounds, with most being in the 8- to 12-pound class.
A lot of the offshore action has been found by stopping on kelp paddies, but bluefin are also coming from trolling strikes, spots of breezing fish and sonar marks.
Boats fishing some of the local offshore banks outside of Los Coronados islands are also picking up a mix of bluefin tuna, dorado and yellowtail. No big catches have been coming from these more local areas yet, but more fish do appear to be moving into local offshore waters all the time.
A recent three-quarter day trip aboard Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing returned with two bluefin tuna and six yellowtail. The same day of fishing saw a three-quarter-day trip aboard San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing return with five bluefin tuna.
Private boater John Pamplin of Beluga fished a recent offshore trip in local offshore waters and went to the 302 Spot outside of Los Coronados islands. Pamplin did not find any action out at the 302 Spot — but when he worked into the east, he located a kelp paddy that was loaded with dorado and yellowtail. This kelp paddy was found while fishing 5 miles south of Coronado del Norte (North Island), and it produced a 20-pound dorado and two yellowtail that were in the 25- to 30-pound class.
Most boats have been avoiding fishing at Los Coronados islands in recent days because of a flare-up in the Mexico FMM Immigration Form issue. Anglers tell us it has been several days since any sportboats have fished at the Coronados.
The FMM Immigration Form issue affects both private boats and charter sportboats, and many private boaters have recently avoided fishing in Mexican waters. Hopefully, this issue will be resolved soon.
Private boater Robb Lane of AJ did have an FMM Immigration Form, and he went out to Los Coronados islands to sample the fishing. He reported finding some action at the Middle Grounds, and caught a 20-pound yellowtail and a 5-pound lingcod.
Another private boater report came from a skipper who fished slow-trolled sardines along the weather side of North Island. His boat had six yellowtail hookups and caught two 20- to 25-pound yellowtail. He commented that there was an eerie feeling out at the islands, with the uncertainty of the FMM Immigration Form issue and with only about 10 boats out there fishing on a nice summer day.
Marlin fishing has been improving, with marlin action being reported at the 9-Mile Bank, the area inside of the 182 Spot and around the 267 Spot outside of Dana Point. Most of the action has been coming from jig strikes, with a few feeders, tailers and jumpers being seen.
Chris Lapham of Snooper reported catching and releasing a marlin from a jig strike July 28, while fishing the outside the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank. The 267 Spot has also been a productive area, and it has produced three or four marlin over the past few days — with two being reported July 29.
Capt. Mike “the Beak” Hurt of Chiquilin fished a recent trip targeting marlin and reported seeing three separate feeders in an area where there were he saw saurie baitfish inside of the 182 Spot. Hurt reported catching a 10-pound yellowtail and a 20-pound yellowtail from a kelp paddy in that same zone, and he said that Sea Trek IV had a brief marlin hookup from a jig strike while working the area.
Hurt added that he was very encouraged by the early season marlin signs he is seeing, and he likes the fact that marlin are being seen over such a wide area.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish, and there has also been a chance at finding a flurry of barracuda action or catching a white seabass, yellowtail or halibut. The best chance at barracuda or catching yellowtail has been while fishing outside of both the upper end and the lower end of La Jolla.
Squid has been available to catch for bait at night at the upper end of La Jolla and outside of Del Mar. Try for white seabass at night and during the early morning hours in the same area where you might locate the squid.
There have also been some incidental catches of yellowtail and halibut reported by boats targeting white seabass with live squid.
The kelp beds in North San Diego County have been producing a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish, and they have also been producing an occasional flurry of barracuda action.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star out of Helgren’s Sportfishing has been fishing kelp bed areas at Solana Beach and Leucadia, and he reports that it has been important to locate a kelp bed area where you find a downhill or down and in current flow. He said they have been catching a mix of sand bass, calico bass, rockfish, sheephead and barracuda, along with a few bonus halibut.
The bass fishing has been good overall, and he said they have been coming home with mixed catches of calico bass and sand bass that usually range between 30 and 70 per trip.
Cacciola prefers anchovies or small sardines for bait, but he said that their recent bait supply has been made up of mostly large sardines. Some of the larger calicos will bite on 7-inch sardines, but he suggested that anglers should chunk the larger sardines and use either the cut sardines or strips of fresh-frozen or fresh-dead market squid.
Cacciola uses chunks of the bigger sardines for chum, and his anglers will flyline chunks of sardine into the kelp for the calico bass. He suggested using a small split shot when fishing with a strip of squid.
This is our prime time summer season, and there are plenty of fish available right now to target. Get out there, and enjoy the fishing.
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.