Offshore fishing, local islands producing quality bites

SAN DIEGO — The summer fishing season is here, giving anglers plenty of choices when it comes to offshore fishing and finding bites at the local islands. The offshore fishing provided a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail. Although counts are not high, the quality size of some of the tuna to be caught remains spectacular with bluefin tuna biting that go to 200+ pounds and with some quality yellowfin tuna to 40 pounds in the mix as well.

Los Coronado Islands, prior to a recent cooling of the water, were providing very good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass. The fishing along the San Diego County coast has also seen a recent cooling trend damper the surface fishing a bit but in the overall picture, the fishing along the coast has been providing lots of calico bass action along with an occasional flurry of action on barracuda, bonito and yellowtail. The cooling of the water in these areas is thought to be temporary and might well be over by the time you read this report.

On the offshore fishing front, anglers continue to look at a lot of bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna but it continues to be difficult to get the fish to bite. The past few days have seen the big bluefin start to bite better on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. Anglers are hoping this is a sign the tuna are starting to come off the natural feed and start to show more interest in the baits and lures presented to them.

A recent catch aboard Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing is hoped to be a sign of a breakthrough in the bluefin tuna fishing. On, June 26, Liberty had an impressive catch, including six bluefin tuna of 100 pounds or more.

Private boater Pat McDonough was aboard the June 26 trip on Liberty and said all the bluefin were caught on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. McDonough did not get bit while it was his turn on the trolling rotation but said he had an awesome time just watching the big bluefin crashing and exploding on the surface of the water while chasing the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. He indicated that it was a lot of fun just being aboard to witness such a fine catch of large bluefin tuna.

The bluefin tuna are mixed size fish and are running from 20 to 200+ pounds.   The big bluefin have been biting best on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. Also productive for bluefin have been sardines, mackerel, trolled cedar plugs, Rapalas and Halco 130s. Divers had also had success in catching big bluefin with their spear guns. The bluefin have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breaking, breezing or puddling fish. A positive indicator of a zone that might be holding bluefin tuna is where you might find shearwater birds or working tern birds.

The yellowfin tuna have for the most part been running from 15 to 40 pounds. Cedar plugs have been working best for the yellowfin, which have also been biting on sardines, Rapalas and Halco 130s. The yellowfin have been found by locating sonar marks, meter marks, porpoise schools and spots of breaking, puddling or breezing fish.

The yellowtail have been biting on sardines fished around kelp paddies and have been running from 5 to 25 pounds.

The best areas for the bluefin and yellowfin have been in the San Diego region for boats fishing offshore areas such as the 9 Mile Bank, 182 Spot, 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank and the area 4 to 8 miles out to the west of North Island. There have also been tuna showing and sometimes biting in more northern offshore waters up toward Catalina. Reports of tuna have come from areas such as the 267 Spot, 277 Spot, 181 Spot, 209 Spot, 312 Spot and from 7 to 14 miles off the stretch of coast between San Onofre and Oceanside.

Private boater Al Church of Some Day Is Now was out fishing for tuna on, June 26. Church was working the area outside of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank at 13 miles 259 degrees from Point Loma when they spotted an estimated 300-pound swordfish. Church said they grabbed the biggest sardine they could find in the bait tank and presented it to the swordfish. It took about 15 minutes to entice the swordfish into biting but it did eventually bite for them. Church said they experienced the excitement of battling the swordfish for 25 minutes and seeing it jump twice before the hook pulled out and the fish was lost.

Private boater Mike Seymour of Sea Section reported fishing June 14 and said the trip focused on catching yellowtail. Seymour reported spending the morning fishing Los Coronado Islands and finding barracuda to 9 pounds biting but said he was not finding much in the way of yellowtail activity. He decided to run outside the Islands to look for kelp paddies and he found an area about 5 miles southwest of the south tip of South Island. Seymour was fishing with his wife Peggy and their friend Scott Pastore and they each boated a nice sized kelp paddie yellowtail. Their yellows weighed in at 22 pounds, 19 pounds and 18 pounds and were caught on sardines. While they were fishing one of the kelp paddies, Seymour reported seeing a huge foamer spot of breaking tuna show about a half a mile outside of where they were drifting the kelp paddie.

The fishing at Los Coronado Islands was good for surface fishing but the past couple of days have seen the water conditions change and the surface fishing slow. Several days ago the water was at 65 degrees and blue and the past couple of days have seen 58 to 59 degree off color water move in, slowing the surface action. Prior to the arrival of the cool and off color water there had been good mixed bag fishing for barracuda, bonito, calico bass and yellowtail.

The surface fishing along the San Diego County coast has been mostly good for calico bass and there have also been occasional flurries of barracuda, bonito and yellowtail action. Kelp bed areas have been the best with spots at the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the La Jolla Kelp beds, the kelp beds between Del Mar and Carlsbad, the San Onofre kelp and the Barn kelp all producing good numbers of calico bass. Some areas up and down the coast have seen a drop in the water temperature in recent days and the areas that have experienced the drop in the water temperature have seen the surface fishing become a bit erratic.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports good calico bass action while fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Del Mar. A high percentage of the calicos continue to be short sized fish needing to be released but there have been some legal sized fish in the mix as well. In addition to calico bass, they have been finding flurries of action on other species incidental to fishing the calicos along the edges of the kelp. Cacciola says they have been catching and releasing a lot of short sized barracuda, hooking and loosing an occasional 20- to 30-pound yellowtail, catching and releasing an occasional large black seabass and hooking and loosing an occasional thresher shark. On a recent trip Cacciola said they also hooked and lost what he thought were three large white sea bass. One hookup resulted in the angler being spooled, the second hookup resulted in a broken line and the third hookup was lost when the hook straightened out.

Anchovies have been working well for bait. Plastic swim baits in an anchovy color pattern have also been productive for the calico bass and Cacciola also reports good calico bass action on the 3/8-ounce size Hookup Bait plastics in the anchovy and chartreuse colors.

San Clemente Island has been providing good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, calico bass, bonito and rockfish along with an occasional white sea bass. The yellowtail have been nice sized fish, running from 10 to 30 pounds. Boats are fishing many areas around and about the Island and have been finding action at quite a few locations. On the front side of the Island the best areas have been Purse Seine Rock, White Rock and Gold Bluff. On the backside of the Island, the best areas have been the ridges between Pyramid Cove and China Point, the Runway and West Cove.

Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and there has been some squid to catch for bait at night in West Cove. Some of the boats have also been bringing squid over to San Clemente Island from Catalina where it is being caught at night off Ben Weston.

Catalina Island has been producing flurries of yellowtail action along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish. A couple of the better yellowtail areas have been Salta Verde and Little Gibraltar with some good mixed bag surface fishing being reported off Little Gibraltar, Toyon Bay and Gallagher’s Beach.

The best zone for squid catching at Catalina has been while fishing off Ben Weston. There have often been squid boats offering squid for sale while anchored up outside of Avalon. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.

The spring fishing season has blossomed into the summer season and anglers have a lot of nice options to choose from in the species they want to target and the places to find them. I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy summer fishing season sometime soon! 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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