By: Bob Vanian
The white seabass fishing along the local coast — and the yellowtail and bluefin fishing offshore — are currently sharing center stage. However, Seaforth Sportfishing reported July 1 that anglers aboard Pacific Voyager just caught the first dorado of the local season, sparking even more excitement.
Pacific Voyager anglers had an impressive count of 33 bluefin tuna, 50 yellowtail and one dorado for their first morning of fishing on a three-day trip.
There are good numbers of yellowtail and some bluefin tuna biting for boats on 1.5-day trips, fishing offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett and Isla San Martín — and there are white seabass biting at spots where you might locate a bed of squid between Mission Bay and Torrey Pines.
The offshore fishing on 1.5- to two-day trips has often been producing limit yellowtail action, and there are also some bluefin tuna around and biting to complement the yellowtail fishing. This action is being found down between 100 and 160 miles on a 156 to 162 degree heading from Point Loma. Every once in a while, a boat gets into a good bluefin stop and has some hot action on 30- to 50-pound fish.
Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor, out of Fisherman’s Landing, reported on a recent 1.5-day trip where they caught limits of yellowtail. Meisel traveled 160 miles below Point Loma to find some hot kelp paddies that would produce limits of yellowtail — and his effort paid off, with limits of yellowtail for everyone aboard.
Meisel reported that most of the yellowtail were in the 8- to 12-pound class, but they had a couple of 20- to 25-pound yellowtail aboard, as well. Water conditions were ideal, with 67.5- to 68-degree blue water.
Boats fishing in more local offshore waters have been scratching out an occasional yellowtail, but most reports are of kelp paddies that are dry or that are holding just a few yellowtail that do not seem very interested in biting.
There was better local kelp paddy fishing a couple of weeks ago — however, conditions are looking good for more fish to move into local offshore waters. One of the better areas for a chance at picking up a local kelp paddy yellowtail has been out at the 425 Bank, located outside Los Coronados islands — about 25 miles, 186 degrees from Point Loma.
The surface fishing at Los Coronados has been good for a mixed bag of barracuda and calico bass, and there has been some fair yellowtail fishing to add extra spice to the barracuda and bass action. The best areas have been the north end of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp, the 5-Minute Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge — with the Middle Grounds, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the Rockpile also providing some surface fishing action.
Most of the sportboats on trips to Los Coronados islands have been fishing a good sand bass bite off the Bull Ring at Tijuana, before heading over to fish Los Coronados. The sand bass bite has been good, and it has often been providing limits of sand bass.
Boats have been anchoring on meter marks found in 8 to 12 fathoms of water to catch the sand bass, which have been biting well on live squid, strips of fresh dead or fresh frozen squid and live anchovies.
The San Diego County coastal fishing has been stealing the local spotlight, with a good run of big white seabass that have been biting for boats fishing squid beds found between Mission Bay and Torrey Pines. The white seabass have been biting best during the night, with some action also taking place during the early morning daylight hours and the evening twilight hours. Live squid has been the best bait — and you can usually catch your bait and fish in the same spot.
There have been four primary areas where seabass have been biting, with the first being out about a mile to the west of the Mission Bay Jetty. The next productive zone could actually be called an extension of the first zone: with squid found outside Pacific Beach, a short way below the Marine Protected Area (MPA) boundary line at the lower end of La Jolla.
Farther north, there is another squid and white seabass area outside of the MPA closure zone at the upper end of La Jolla; and yet another squid and white seabass area is located outside of Torrey Pines. A good depth range to locate squid and white seabass has been in 10 to 14 fathoms of water.
The “white seabass biting on the squid beds” phenomenon has also been happening in other coastal areas, with boats fishing the Huntington Beach Flats also experiencing a similar run of large white seabass — below the inside oil rigs, in 12- to 14-fathom depths.
Boats fishing San Diego County kelp bed areas have been doing very well on calico bass, and they are also catching a mix of sand bass, rockfish and a few barracuda. La Jolla is also providing a chance at good-sized yellowtail.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star, out of Helgren’s Sportfishing, has been reporting excellent calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between South Carlsbad and Leucadia. Cacciola reported anchovies to be working very well for bait, and he said they have also been catching bass on plastic swimbaits and Cotee plastics. Cacciola said the anchovies they have had in their bait supply have been beautiful, strong 4- to 5-inch baits.
On his most recent trip, Cacciola reported 13 anglers catching three sand bass, 28 calico bass and barracuda, and he said that they caught and released an estimated 325-plus short-sized calico bass, as well. A lot of the calicos needed to be thrown back because of the new 14-inch minimum size regulation, and Cacciola reported that a lot of the released fish were 13-inch catches.
The water has been 70 degrees and green, and Cacciola said the most important factor in getting a good calico bass bite going has been to locate a kelp bed spot where there is a steady current flow, with the preferred current being one that is running downhill.
There are also some halibut biting along the coast and at Los Coronados islands. Private boater Bob James of the Marlin Club in San Diego caught one of them while fishing in the Marlin Club’s Don Blackman Memorial Halibut Tournament, June 30.
James said that he fished off Imperial Beach and caught one legal halibut on that day, and he also reported catching and releasing a 25-pound black seabass.
In reporting about what some of the other boats fishing in the tournament caught, he said that the three biggest halibut in the tournament were caught from the Torrey Pines/Del Mar area — by anglers fishing in about 75 feet of water. Two of these three halibut weighed 33 pounds and the other weighed in at 29 pounds.
A couple of 25-pound halibut were also weighed in during the tournament, and these were caught at Los Coronados islands, while fishing the waters around South Island.
San Clemente Island continues to have a lot of the prime fishing area closed for Navy purposes. But when fishing has been allowed, there have been some yellowtail and white seabass biting for boats anchored on the outer ridge areas outside Pyramid Cove, as well as while fishing right outside of the kelp and boiler rocks in Pyramid Cove.
Boats fishing the back side, in the western part of the island, have seen better fishing for white seabass. Successful anglers have been anchoring on balls of squid found a short distance outside of the kelp line, between the area just below West Cove and the Dunes. There has been good calico bass fishing along the back side of the island, for boats fishing the Windmill area.
The front side of San Clemente Island has had some spots of breezing yellowtail producing action for boats fishing up and down the middle part of the island. A steady downhill current flow seems to have triggered a showing of fish in this zone. There has also been an occasional yellowtail and some good numbers of calico bass biting at White Rock.
It is always good practice to check the Navy’s San Clemente Island website — scisland.org — to see what parts of the island are scheduled to be open or closed, before heading over there.
The summer season is here, and the good fishing should continue to build during the next few months. 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 976-Bite at 976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the phone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.