By: Bob Vanian
San Diego area anglers have had the opportunity to catch yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands for almost two months. The ongoing good news is that yellowtail continue to hold in the area.
Yellowtail are providing anglers an opportunity to target a quality-size surface-fishing species while we wait for late spring and summer species — such as bluefin tuna and albacore — to arrive offshore.
The yellowtail fishing has been hit or miss around Los Coronados islands, but anglers who were fortunate enough to be out there on “the right day” have made some good catches of fish in the 17- to 30-pound range.
On just one recent day, sportfishing boats on three-quarter-day trips out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay all scored yellowtail counts that were in 30s and 40s. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing posted a count that included 49 yellowtail, San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a count that included 44 yellowtail and Malihini out of H&M Landing put up a count that included 34 yellowtail.
The South Island region has been producing the best yellowtail action in recent days, with the area between the Ribbon Kelp and the north end of South Island being the best specific area — in 70 to 80 feet of water.
Yellowtail have been biting on surface iron, yo-yo iron, sardines and small mackerel. The best way to locate them has been by finding meter marks and spots of diving birds.
Using 15- to 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader has helped to draw strikes when using live bait. Private boaters have reported success while slow trolling with sardines or small mackerel.
Good choices for yo-yo iron have included Salas 6X Jr.s, Sumo Jr.s and Salas 6Xs in blue and white, blue and chrome or scrambled egg colors. Using 40-pound test is suggested with yo-yoed iron, to handle the bigger 20 to 30 pound fish. Good choices for surface iron have included Tady 45s or Salas 7X lights in blue and white, mint or sardine colors.
The La Jolla region continues to provide a chance at yellowtail, but the yellowtail bite has been slow. There are occasional schools of yellowtail spotted up on the surface, but it has been difficult to get them to bite. The best zone to locate a school of yellowtail has been outside of the upper and middle part of La Jolla.
What adds to the frustration of trying to hook a yellowtail at La Jolla right now is that some of the showings of yellowtail occur within the Marine Life Protection Act-imposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that are closed to fishing. The bottom line is, that there are yellows in the La Jolla area — and they could start biting better at any time.
The best chance at hooking a yellowtail in the La Jolla area has been with surface iron, cast to a spot of breaking fish. The La Jolla yellows have been quality 20- to 30-pound fish, so if you are fortunate enough to catch one, it will have been worth the effort.
The remainder of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of rockfish, bass and sculpin. The best spots for rockfish in the Point Loma area have been the Whistler Buoy, the Dropoff, the Point Loma Pipeline and the Green Tank.
At La Jolla, there have been rockfish biting at the hard-bottom area located below the MPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, in 18 to 25 fathoms of water. There have also been some red vermilions biting outside of the upper end of La Jolla, for anglers fishing in 20 to 24 fathoms.
In the North San Diego County region, there have been rockfish biting for boats fishing hard-bottom spots outside of Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.
Halibut have been getting more active at sandy-bottom areas along the San Diego County coast. In recent days, private boats have been fishing for halibut off Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Anglers are reporting pretty good numbers of throwback short-sized halibut biting, and they are also catching an occasional legal-size keeper halibut. The halibut bite should continue to improve as the water gets warmer.
Spring fishing continues to improve, and that trend should continue as the warm water summer months approach.
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.