2020 fishing season off to a good start

SAN DIEGO—The brand new year of 2020 is upon us and has brought some good weather after some stormy days of weather during the last few weeks of 2019. The recent nice weather has given the ocean a chance to settle down and anglers a chance to get back out on the water and do some fishing in nice weather conditions.

There have been no boats fishing offshore for tuna that I know of in recent days with the tuna fishing having slowed during the last part of December. Most of the sportboats that might otherwise be out fishing for tuna on overnight and 1.5-day trips have now shifted gears to do some fishing for reds, rockfish, lingcod and yellowtail on 1.5-day trips down the Mexican coast to fish at the high spot region outside of Punta Colnett. What was found the first weekend of January was that there was very good mixed bag fishing for reds, an assortment of rockfish, lingcod and yellowtail.

As an example of the fishing, Fisherman’s Landing had Pacific Queen fish a 1.5-day trip to Punta Colnett with 34 anglers who caught 140 reds, 135 rockfish, 21 yellowtail and 9 lingcod. Fisherman’s Landing also had Tomahawk fish a 1.5-day trip to Punta Colnett that returned with a catch of 150 rockfish, 11 lingcod and one bonito. H&M Landing had Old Glory fish a Punta Colnett 1.5-day trip with 13 anglers who caught 99 rockfish, 17 lingcod and 14 yellowtail.

Punta Colnett is known for producing quality sized yellowtail, reds and rockfish and Fisherman’s Landing reports that the yellowtail caught on Pacific Queen were nice sized fish that were in the 12 to 22 pound class. Fisherman’s Landing also noted that the lingcod caught on Tomahawk were quality sized fish that went to 22 pounds.

The fishing for reds and rockfish around the Coronado Islands has also been very good. Productive areas include hard bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island while working in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. Also good has been fishing the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while keeping on the Mexico side of the border and fishing in the 60 to 80 fathom depths. Another good rockfish zone around the Coronado Islands has been fishing spots along the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 20 to 40 fathom depths.

New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has been running three-quarter-day trips to target the bottom fishing around the Coronado Islands and as an example of the recent fishing, on a recent trip they had 20 anglers return with 145 rockfish, 50 reds, four whitefish and one lingcod. Premier out of H&M Landing has also been fishing half-day trips targeting the bottom fishing around the Coronados on weekday mornings and their last trip was on Jan. 2, when 22 anglers caught 219 rockfish and one lingcod.

There are still boats fishing for swordfish via the deep drop method. The fishing has slowed from what it was several weeks ago but there are still occasional swordfish bites and hookups being reported to where boats continue to give it a try. I believe there to have been two swordfish boated since New Year’s Day. The main areas being targeted are the drop off shelf outside of Newport Beach, the area of the drop-off below and outside of the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel, the Avalon Bank, the Rock Quarry at Catalina, the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the nearby 178 Spot.

Skippers fishing the swordfish have been deep drop drifting the areas mentioned above in 150 to 300 fathoms of water and have been fishing their baits at around 900 feet below the surface. Large frozen squid have been the best bait with live mackerel also producing occasional action.

Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual two-month rockfish/groundfish closure on the U.S. side of the Mexico border went into effect on New Year’s Day and it will remain in effect until Mar. 1. With the rockfish/groundfish closure currently in effect, Southern California anglers fishing in US waters have been focusing on species that are still open to fishing such as sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, halibut and yellowtail. The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin with an occasional bonus halibut or flurry of yellowtail action.

Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom areas to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #5 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp while fishing below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

There have been a few halibut biting out in 30 fathoms of water outside of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach and in the area of the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach. There was also a recent report of some halibut biting in San Diego Bay.

The showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast have been erratic from day to day but there have been occasional showing of yellowtail found in the area ranging from the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma on up to the upper end of La Jolla. A good depth range to try and locate yellowtail has been in 18 to 30 fathoms of water. Specific areas where there has been occasional yellowtail activity found over the past couple of weeks are the upper end of La Jolla, the area below the MLPA closure zone off the lower end of La Jolla, Mission Beach, Mission Bay, Point Loma College, the Green Tank and the region of the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma.

The 2020 fishing season has arrived and so far, anglers have been blessed with nice winter weather and good winter fishing. It is nice to see the new year of fishing get off to such a good start! I hope you have a chance to get out fishing and get in on the fun winter time action.

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 www.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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