The fall fishing season is here and the month of October has started out by providing good offshore fishing. Some of the fish are beginning to move around a bit more but there is still good fishing to target within one-day range of San Diego. There continue to be yellowfin tuna and a few bluefin tuna found as far north as the Catalina Channel and beyond.
The bluefin tuna bite has been centered in the Desperation Reef area outside of China Point at San Clemente Island and there have also been some school sized 10- to 15-pound bluefin in the mix with some yellowfin outside of the stretch of coast between San Onofre and Laguna Beach. The bluefin at San Clemente Island have been larger sized fish that have been going from 40 to 125 pounds.
The key to the bluefin bite at San Clemente Island has been fishing with live squid for bait. Live squid has not been easy to catch but has been caught at times at San Clemente Island by boats fishing at night in Pyramid Cove, at the Fish Hook anchorage and on the tuna grounds at Desperation Reef. It has been a good idea to bring some fresh frozen squid with you in case you cannot obtain live squid.
Productive areas for yellowfin tuna have been the Steamer Lane outside of the 14 Mile Bank, the 267 Spot, the area 6 to 10 miles outside of the stretch of coast between Laguna Beach and San Onofre, the 181 Spot, the 182 Spot, the Corner, the 302 Spot, the 371 Bank, the area outside of Todos Santos Island and the area outside of the Banda Bank.
A lot of the boats fishing overnight trips out of the San Diego and Mission Bay area landings are currently fishing the area outside of the Banda Bank and outside of Todos Santos Island in an area ranging from 55 to 65 miles, 160 to 165 degrees from Point Loma. The bite in this zone has been on the upswing and has been productive for yellowfin tuna, small yellowtail and dorado. Kelp paddies are reported to be producing the bulk of the activity in this zone.
Producer out of H&M Landing had 15 anglers on an overnight trip catch 34 yellowfin tuna, 75 yellowtail and 5 dorado. New Lo Ann out of Point Loma Sportfishing had an overnight trip with 31 anglers catch 15 dorado, 75 yellowfin tuna and 1 yellowtail. Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing had an overnight trip with 20 anglers catch 20 yellowfin tuna, 40 dorado and 80 yellowtail.
The yellowtail are mixed sized fish and are running from 5 to 25 pounds. Sardines are good bait and the yellows have also bit on yo-yo iron and surface iron. Action has also come while drifting over spots of fish as well as by sitting on the anchor and some private boaters have also reported success by slow trolling nose hooked sardines.
Good choices for surface iron for yellowtail and barracuda are Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in blue and white, sardine and mint colors. If you want to try yo-yo iron, good choices would be Salas 6X Juniors and Sumo Juniors in blue and white, blue and chrome and scrambled egg. You also might want to troll some feathers to help locate bonito. Sardines and small chrome Megabait and Laser Minnow style iron should work well for bonito once located.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish and has also been providing occasional action on halibut, bonito and yellowtail.
The Imperial Beach area has been productive lately with recent reports being of a mix of bass, rockfish, yellowtail, bonito and an occasional halibut biting. In the Point Loma region there has been a mix of calico bass, rockfish, bonito and a few yellowtail biting for boats fishing hard bottom and kelp bed areas such as the hard bottom by the Whistler Buoy, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3, the Green Tank, Point Loma College and Hill Street. Up at La Jolla, there are some rockfish and calico bass biting and there has also been an occasional flurry of action on bonito or yellowtail.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reports he has been catching a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sheephead, rockfish and bonito along with an occasional big yellowtail while fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Del Mar. The majority of their hookups on large yellowtail are lost when the run into the kelp but on a recent trip they were able to catch a big 30-pound yellowtail while fishing the kelp at Del Mar.
Cacciola says the calicos have been biting well on medium sized sardines and a variety of plastics.
The fall fishing season is off to a great start and I hope you do not make the mistake of putting your tackle away for the season while there is still good fishing going on. 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.
(Photo courtesy Dana Wharf Sportfishing)