Anglers Bringing Home Bluefin, Albacore, Yellowtail and Dorado

By: Bob Vanian

San Diego area offshore fishing continues to provide good overall action on a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowtail and dorado. Albacore finally made their way into the landings’ fish counts, as there were a couple of catches of two albacore made in recent days.

The first landing to report albacore in their count was Dana Landing in Mission Bay. The six-pack charter yacht Impulse was out fishing a 5 a.m.-5 p.m. offshore trip on Aug. 8 and its six anglers caught two albacore, one dorado and 30 yellowtail.

John at Dana Landing reported that they got a single albacore jig strike and hooked three baitfish — and he said they caught the jig fish and one of the baitfish. He thought they were the bigger 25- to 30-pound-class albacore.

The second landing to report albacore in the fish count was Seaforth Sportfishing. Outer Limits, out on a two-day trip, caught two albacore, 100 bluefin tuna, six yellowtail and five dorado. The albacore were caught within one-day range of Point Loma on the first day of the trip, Aug. 10.

It is encouraging to know there are some albacore off the San Diego area coast. We could see more move into local offshore waters soon.

In recent days, the best bluefin tuna fishing has been coming from the 1010 Trench and the Upper 500 Bank. There have also been bluefin biting around a group of tuna pens that have been holding with their tow boats — between 47 and 57 miles, 168 to 171 degrees from Point Loma.

The bluefin fishing around the tuna pens has been hit or miss — but if you are there on a day when the fish are on the bite, it has been some epic fishing. The bluefin have been ranging in size from 15 to 100-plus pounds, with most being in the 15- to 45-pound range.

There are kelp paddy yellowtail and dorado to be caught — from the area of the 295 Bank outside of Ensenada, up to the 14-Mile Bank in the Catalina Channel. The best of the kelp paddy fishing is being found in the southern part of that expanse, in the waters ranging from the 425 Bank and 371 Bank outside of Los Coronados islands on down to the area of the 295 Bank outside of Ensenada.

Some recent private boater reports start with Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever, who fished a recent two-day trip. He started fishing at the tuna pens in the morning and found the fishing to be slow. Bowers worked his way to the area of the Upper 500 Bank, where he found a kelp paddy that produced 13 yellowtail — 54 miles, 179 degrees from Point Loma.

His next move was out to the 1010 Trench, where he found a kelp paddy that produced eight bluefin tuna and seven dorado. The bluefin were 15- to 20-pound-class fish — but they hooked and lost two bluefin that were much bigger.

One of the bigger bluefin was on its way to spooling them when it was lost. This bluefin and dorado kelp paddy was located near the top of the 1010 Trench — 59 miles, 192 degrees from Point Loma.

Bowers spent the morning of the second day of the trip at the 1010 Trench, where he could not locate a kelp paddy or get a sonar mark, meter mark or jig strike to stop the boat. After having a dry morning of fishing, he started to work his way back toward Point Loma.

While fishing his way home, Bowers found a kelp paddy that produced 10 more yellowtail and also hooked and lost a marlin after a 1.5-hour battle. The marlin was estimated to be between 150 and 180 pounds, and it bit on a cedar plug — at 45 miles, 186 degrees from Point Loma. They finished the trip with 23 yellowtail, eight bluefin tuna and seven dorado.

Tom Golding of Last Buck also fished a recent trip to the tuna pens. He reported catching one bluefin tuna and a yellowtail before moving to try and locate more action. Golding worked out toward the Upper 500 Bank — and this was a good move, as they found several kelp paddies between the tuna pens and the Upper 500 Bank that produced yellowtail action.

Their best kelp paddy produced six yellowtail and was found a short way outside of the tuna pens area — 52 miles, 175 degrees from Point Loma. Their fish count for the trip was 15 yellowtail and one bluefin tuna.

Dave Klimkiewicz of Don’t Trip reported fishing a recent trip to the tuna pens with his friends Jim Johnson and Charlie Iwasheta aboard. They had no luck with the bluefin at the pens and worked out to the Upper 500 Bank, where they found a good yellowtail bite on a kelp paddy that was also holding some dorado.

This was their best paddy of the day — and it was found at 55 miles, 181 degrees from Point Loma. Klimkiewicz fished his way from the Upper 500 Bank to the Lower Hidden Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank and found kelp paddies all along the way that produced yellowtail action. The three anglers aboard ended up the day with their limits of yellowtail, and they also caught and released a bunch more.

Capt. Bob Woodard Jr. of Dropback fished a recent trip with his cousin Woody aboard and reported catching one dorado and 25-plus yellowtail. He said they kept four of the yellowtail and the dorado, and released the rest of the yellowtail.

Woodard found this action while fishing from the area outside of the 425 Bank on down to the Upper Hidden Bank. Their best kelp paddy was found at the Upper Hidden Bank, while fishing at 36 miles, 188 degrees from Point Loma.

Private boater Capt. Tony Souza fished a recent trip to the tuna pens and reported catching two big bluefin tuna of 90 and 75 pounds. The 90-pound bluefin was hooked on 30-pound test line and took nearly four hours to land.

They had a double hookup going on those 90-pound-class fish and lost the other one right alongside of the boat. Souza suggested a “pen hopping” technique in going from one pen to the next until you find one that is holding biting fish.

Allan Lewis of Lewis Change fished a recent trip to the Upper 500 Bank and reported six bluefin tuna, 24 of the 15- to 20-pound-class yellowtail and also catching another 30 of the 8- to 12-pound-class yellowtail that were released. Lewis and his son Sheldon were fishing with their Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge team with friends Marty, Mike and Mike’s son Mike Jr. aboard.

Lewis reported catching their six bluefin from two triple jig strikes found in the early morning while fishing the Upper 500 Bank — at 55 miles, 181 degrees from Point Loma. Their bluefin were nice-size fish in the 30-pound class.

He also reported finding good kelp paddy yellowtail fishing from the Upper 500 Bank on up to the Upper Hidden Bank. Their last paddy of the day was at the Upper Hidden Bank — 36 miles, 183 degrees from Point Loma — and it produced six of the 15-pound yellowtail and 30 of the smaller 8- to 10-pound yellowtail that were released.

Jim Covell of Sea Bear fished a recent trip to the tuna pens and reported starting the day by catching a bluefin tuna on a trolled cedar plug. The overall bite was slow for them at the tuna pens, and they could not get anything going on live bait.

His next move was to the Upper 500 Bank, where he found some good kelp paddy yellowtail fishing and also picked up four big bluefin tuna that were in the 50- to 60-pound class. This good action by the Upper 500 Bank was found while fishing 55 miles, 182 to 183 degrees from Point Loma.

Robb Lane of AJ fished a recent trip with Ray Lussa aboard Lussa’s boat, Great Escape. Lane reported that they found two productive kelp paddies while fishing around the 425 Bank and said that the paddies produced a total of 10 yellowtail. They found this kelp paddy action while fishing a short way above the 425 Bank — at 22 and 24 miles, 187 to 188 degrees from Point Loma.

Sam Minervini of Sail Fish is a sailboat owner who loves to fish. He fished the area of the 302 Spot on a recent trip and reported finding a kelp paddy below and outside of the 302 Spot that produced six of the 8- to 12-pound-class yellowtail and a 15-pound dorado. There were two kelp paddies close to one another, and it was the smaller of the two paddies that was holding the fish. These two kelp paddies were found 25 miles, 219 degrees from Point Loma.

Grant Christianson of Judy B reported fishing a trip out to the 302 Spot and 425 Bank, where they had no luck while fishing the kelp paddies they found. He said that all the kelp paddies they found were holding bait, but were not holding any game fish.

Christianson came back in to the Coronado islands during the late afternoon, to try fishing at the Middle Grounds for yellowtail. That move inside to the Middle Grounds proved to be a successful one, and it resulted in the catch of a 23-pound yellowtail.

Marlin fishing has been scratchy, but there have been a few around and biting. The boat Agitator reported catching and releasing a marlin while fishing near the 267 Spot off Dana Point Aug. 12. It was a jig fish, caught on a Sevenstrand mackerel color clone. Other local areas that have seen some marlin activity reported include the lee of San Clemente Island, the 209 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot and the 9-Mile Bank.

Los Coronados islands have been producing a few yellowtail, along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, sculpin and rockfish. The best areas for yellowtail have been along the lee side of North Island, at the Middle Grounds and at the Rockpile. The water conditions at the islands have improved lately, and the conditions appear favorable for having better numbers of yellowtail move in soon.

Calico bass fishing has been ranging from fair to good at many of the kelp bed areas along the San Diego County coast. What are being caught are mostly short-sized calicos, but there are some legal-size fish in the mix that meet the 14-inch minimum size regulation.

Also, look for some barracuda that have been biting along the edges of the kelp beds at the Upper End of La Jolla, Solana Beach and Leucadia. The upper end of La Jolla has also been producing an occasional yellowtail and has seen some flurries of action on small bonito.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star out of Helgren’s Sportfishing reported that he has been fishing kelp bed areas of Solana Beach, Del Mar, Leucadia and South Carlsbad — and doing well on a mix of calico bass, sand bass, barracuda and rockfish. The water temperature has warmed back up to between 68.5 and 70 degrees and has been ranging in color from clean green to blue.

Cacciola reported that they were seeing a better percentage of legal-size calicos in the count during the early part of the season, but he said there are still some legal-size calico bass and sand bass in the mix.

Anchovies have been working well for bait — and for those who like to fish plastics, Cacciola said they have been doing very well for both bass and barracuda while using the Berkley Gulp Jerk Shads in the Sardine, Anchovy and pearl white colors.

This continues to be a good summer fishing season with lots of species to target. Make sure you do not let it pass by without enjoying the fun fishing. 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 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

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