Anglers continue to find bluefin tuna bites in February

SAN DIEGO — Is Southern California looking at a year around bluefin tuna fishery? The answer may well be yes as anglers have had bluefin tuna to target since last spring and bluefin have continued to bite through the holidays and into the first part of February. With the mild winter we have been having, we are already seeing a lot of warm spring like weather days. With the lack of storm systems, the water conditions remain favorable for bluefin to stay in offshore waters within 1.5-day range of Point Loma.

The best bluefin bite has been at the offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett for boats fishing 100 to 120 miles, 160 to 180 degrees from Point Loma. Most of the bluefin are in the 20- to 35-pound range with a few bigger fish to 50+ pounds also in the mix. Bluefin stops have been coming from stopping on spots of breaking fish, kelp paddies meter marks and sonar marks along with the occasional trolling strike. Kelp paddies also provide the chance at some yellowtail. The water temperature in the bluefin area has been running from 63.5 to 64.5 degrees.

The most recent bluefin sportboat catches are New Lo-An out of Point Loma Sportfishing. Recent 1.5-day trips at Punta Colnett and nearby offshore waters yielded 25 bluefin tuna, 120 rockfish and 8 lingcod for 24 anglers.

Fisherman’s Landing reported Pacific Queen was also fishing a recent 1.5-day trip to Punta Colnett region; they returned with two bluefin tuna and limits of reds.

The fishing in close to the coast at the High Spot area off Punta Colnett has been good for a mix of reds, rockfish, bonito and lingcod. There has also been some occasional yellowtail action. The yellowtails were playing hard to find last weekend but boats have been finding action on 15- to 20-pound yellowtail by dropping yo-yoed iron down to meter marks and sonar marks. Old Glory out of H&M Landing fished a recent trip to the Punta Colnett High Spot region and had 22 anglers catch 1 lingcod, 110 reds, 88 rockfish and 21 bonito.

There are also bluefin tuna holding in more local offshore waters. Legend out of H&M Landing had a recent offshore three-quarter-day trip with 22 anglers and one bluefin tuna catch. My information is the bluefin was caught while fishing outside of Los Coronado Islands in the region of the 371 Bank.

The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of reds and assorted rockfish. There have also been a few bonito biting for boats fishing a short way to the north of North Island. San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished a recent three-quarter-day trip to Los Coronado Islands and had 39 anglers catch 150 rockfish and 2 bonito.

Some of the better rockfish areas around Los Coronado Islands have been the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island while fishing in the 40 to 50 fathom depths. Also productive for rockfish has been the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while fishing on the Mexico side of the border.

Capt. Bob Woodard, a private boater of Christina Lynn, fished a recent trip to Los Coronado Islands and reported catching limits of quality-sized reds and some assorted rockfish. Woodard said he found the action while fishing hard bottom areas between the Coronado Canyon and North Island. The reds were biting well as they managed to catch their limits in just 3.5 hours of fishing time.

With the annual two-month rockfish/groundfish closure in effect in Southern California waters until March 1, a lot of anglers fishing coastal areas have been fishing hard bottom and structure spots for sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Anglers have also been working sandy bottom areas adjacent to hard bottom and structure for halibut.

One of the better areas for bass, sculpin and halibut in the San Diego region has been the Imperial Beach Pipeline. Also productive for sand bass have been cobblestone bottom areas up above the Imperial Beach Pipeline. A good depth range over the cobblestone bottom areas has been in 60 to 80 feet of water.

An additional productive coastal zone has been the sandy bottom and the kelp off the Imperial Beach Pier and the patches of sandy bottom would be likely places to find a halibut. There have also been some bass and sculpin biting at the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and at the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma.

There have been recent yellowtail sightings between the Mexico Border and the area to the northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. The yellows have not been biting but have been seen under working birds and via meter marks and sonar marks found in 35 to 45 fathoms of water. They are good-sized 15- to 20-pound class yellowtail and anglers are hoping they will start biting better sometime soon.

Another couple of spots to try for halibut are the sandy bottom next to the Yukon Shipwreck and the sandy bottom next to the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach. Additional zones to try for halibut are the sandy bottom adjacent to the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and the sandy bottom off Ponto Beach at Carlsbad. Boats have also been targeting halibut at sandy bottom areas off San Onofre, Trestles and outside of the San Clemente Pier.

Look for some bass and sculpin along with a chance at a halibut at La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad and the structure of the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines. Look for a chance at some bass and sculpin at the hard bottom outside of Box Canyon, the Barn and San Onofre.

There have been some showings of squid along the San Diego County coast with squid being caught for bait at night by boats fishing outside of the Scripps Pier.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports there has been squid metered in various areas in the Oceanside region but says it has been hit or miss in being able to catch squid for bait at night.

Squid have been located include the area outside of the Buccaneer Pipeline and the area outside of the Santa Margarita River. Cacciola reports Chubasco II has been fishing half-day trips and they have been doing well on sand bass, calico bass and sculpin as well as catching an occasional halibut. Best bet for the sand bass has been a strip of fresh frozen squid that is fished on a lead head.

We sure are having spring like weather early in the year and spring like fishing is starting to be found at spots up and down the coast. Take advantage of the good weather days and get in on some of the fine fishing we get to enjoy the year around. 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 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.

Pacific Queen photo

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