Decisions, Decisions: Bluefin, Yellowfin, Yellowtail, Dorado or Albacore?

By: FishRap Staff

The Southern California offshore fishing season continues to impress, with a chance to find biting offshore fish in areas ranging from 5 miles off the coast on down to the offshore waters below and outside Punta Colnett and beyond. Depending on the areas fished, anglers have some good opportunities right now to catch albacore, dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna and marlin.

Anglers do indeed have a lot of options, when it comes to deciding what to target.

Dorado have made their way north to the point where they are now being caught from kelp paddies outside Palos Verdes, with areas in the Catalina Channel such as the Avalon Bank and 14-Mile Bank also producing dorado and yellowtail.

Dorado and yellowtail can be found under kelp paddies all the way south to where boats on 1.5-day trips have been fishing, below and outside Punta Colnett and well beyond. Some of the best areas have included 14-Mile Bank, Avalon Bank, an area 5 to 10 miles off the coast between San Onofre and La Jolla, the 43 Fathom Spot, Kidney Bank, 371 Bank, Hidden Bank, the 238 Spot, the 450 Spot and the 1140 Finger.

Bluefin tuna bit well out at Butterfly Bank, the 43 Fathom Spot and Kidney Bank for several days. Those areas have currently quieted down on bluefin, but still continue to produce dorado and yellowtail.

One of the best bluefin bites has been around a group of three tuna pens that have been in a holding pattern offshore, outside of Ensenada around 50 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma. Other productive bluefin spots have included Double 220 Bank and the offshore waters below and outside Punta Colnett.

There have been very few yellowfin tuna biting out by Butterfly Bank and the 43 Fathom Spot, with far better fishing being found by boats in the offshore waters below and outside Punta Colnett — between 110 and 120 miles, 150 to 155 degrees from Point Loma. Boats that are fishing even farther south — 150 to 160 miles from Point Loma — are finding the best yellowfin action.

Albacore have made a late-season showing, and there have been scattered catches of 25- to 45-pound albacore made by boats fishing the region of the Inner Bank, 295 Bank and Double 220 Bank. Boats fishing near the tuna pens that are holding offshore outside Ensenada have even picked up an occasional albacore, incidental to fishing for bluefin tuna.

Marlin have been widely scattered in recent days, with the current best area being the region of the 43 Fathom Spot. Other productive areas have been along the inside of San Clemente Island — 2 to 5 miles off the island between Pyramid Head and the Radar Dome — along with the 182 Spot and 9-Mile Bank.

Some recent catch reports start with private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck. Golding reported catching four 30- to 45-pound bluefin tuna while fishing near the tuna pens — 51 miles, 170 degrees from Point Loma — and then picking up three 30- to 35-pound albacore while fishing above the Inner Bank outside Ensenada — 59 miles, 170 degrees from Point Loma.

They added four dorado to the catch, to end up with four bluefin, three albacore and four dorado for the day. Their three albacore were caught from a single stop, where they got a triple jig strike and landed two of the three jig fish and one baitfish.

Private boater Capt. Tony Souza was participating in the Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge and started his day fishing near the tuna pens 50 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma. He reported catching two bluefin tuna.

Souza did some kelp paddy hopping on the way back to San Diego, and found a wide-open bite outside the Hidden Bank — 36 miles, 195 degrees from Point Loma. They wound up the day with not only the two bluefin tuna, but also limits of dorado and yellowtail.

Private boater Ken Morris of Ken-Dandy was fishing with Brad Stiles aboard Styles’ boat Endeavour while participating in the Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge. Morris reported fishing out at Butterfly Bank and catching six dorado and two yellowtail.

Private boater Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever fished a recent two-day trip, and on the first day of the trip he reported catching 21 yellowfin tuna, one bluefin tuna and three dorado. He had this action fishing the offshore waters below and outside Punta Colnett — between 110 and 115 miles, 150 to 155 degrees from Point Loma. They had lots of yellowfin tuna strikes on the troll, and twice had quintuple jig strikes.

Bowers ran back up to the tuna pens outside of Ensenada — 50 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma — to fish Day 2 of their trip. It was a good move, as they caught 10 bluefin tuna and three dorado, to end up with 11 bluefin tuna, 21 yellowfin tuna and 6 dorado for the trip. Their bluefin were all nice-sized fish, with four of the bluefin weighing around 40-pounds.

Private boater Jim Cook of Ambusher fished a recent trip to the tuna pens 50 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma. He reported some fun fishing while catching two bluefin tuna, one albacore and one dorado.

They caught the albacore and dorado while slow-trolling sardines near the tuna pens, and their two bluefin tuna came on drifted sardines. Their catch was made up of quality-size fish, with the dorado being a 25-pound bull, the albacore being a 38-pound fish and the bluefin weighing in at 20 and 35 pounds.

Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor, out of Fisherman’s Landing provided a report about a recent 1.5-day trip to fish the offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett. At the time of his early evening report, they had 50 yellowfin tuna, three bluefin tuna and 50 mixed dorado and yellowtail, with fishing time left in the day. A lot of their yellowfin tuna action was originating from trolling strikes, and they were seeing baitfish caught in most of their yellowfin tuna stops. The yellowfin tuna were mixed-size fish that went from 8 to 20 pounds.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star out of Helgren’s Sportfishing reported fishing offshore on a recent three-quarter-day trip and finding a very good dorado stop, before heading into the kelp beds at Del Mar to fish for calico bass. Cacciola reported getting a dorado trolling strike as he was approaching a kelp paddy, and he said the bite went wide-open on 10- to 15-pound dorado. They ended up with 20 dorado from the stop. They went into the kelp beds at Del Mar and finished up the day catching some calico bass on sardines.

Capt. Mike Hadfield of the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn, with Point Loma Sportfishing, fished a friends-and-family trip while participating in the Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge. Hadfield started their day of fishing near the tuna pens — 50 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma — where they caught a 28-pound and a 30-pound bluefin tuna. Their next move was down to the 295 Bank, where they found a good kelp paddy bite that produced limits of yellowtail and a dorado.

Capt. Chris Abate of the six-pack charter yacht Prime Time with Prime Time Sportfishing reported about a recent 1.5-day trip to fish the offshore waters below and outside Punta Colnett. They had a fun day of fishing, with eight yellowfin tuna, limits of yellowtail and limits of dorado. Their last stop was their best, and it came from a kelp paddy 109 miles, 150 degrees from Point Loma.

A lot of skippers have been choosing to not fish at Los Coronados islands due to unclear and unpredictable enforcement of Mexico’s new FMM permit regulations for U.S. anglers. However, the fishing at the Coronados has been good lately, for a mix of yellowtail and barracuda. Some of the best areas have been the lee side of North Island, Pukey Point at North Island, Middle Grounds and the Ribbon Kelp.

Private boater Bill Davidson of Copout reported about a recent trip to the Coronados where they had five anglers catch their limits of 5- to 12-pound yellowtail and several barracuda. They had much of their action on slow-trolled sardines while fishing the Ribbon Kelp at South Island.

Davidson reported that they would also see action on drifted live sardines and iron after getting a hookup on the slow-trolled sardines. They had some extra excitement when a 25-pound bull dorado chased a swimbait back to the boat.

San Diego area coastal fishing has seen what has mostly been a nice mix of barracuda, calico bass and rockfish biting at the Point Loma Kelp Beds. Some of the better spots have included the kelp at the Green Tank and the hard-bottom area northwest of Buoy #3.

There has been squid to catch for bait outside of the Crystal Pier while fishing below the Marine Life Protection Act closure area at the lower end of La Jolla. Once getting live squid for bait, anglers have been fishing in the same area as the squid was found — and they have been catching white seabass, yellowtail and halibut. The squid has been available to catch for bait during both daylight and nighttime hours.

There has also been squid to catch for bait outside of Del Mar, out in 100 feet of water. Anglers using the squid for bait have been catching white seabass and yellowtail.

The kelp beds at Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia and Carlsbad have been producing a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish — and there have been a few yellowtail caught with live squid at the kelp beds at Del Mar. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star out of Helgren’s Sportfishing reported that they have been doing best with calico bass during late afternoon, when a downhill current pushes clean blue-green or clean green water into the kelp beds.

This has been — and still is — a fishing season to remember. Take advantage of these great fishing opportunities while the fish are around and biting.

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.

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