By: Bob Vanian
Area anglers are quickly forgetting about the past two difficult offshore fishing seasons, as good numbers of pelagic offshore species have invaded offshore waters and are providing excellent fishing.
Dorado, yellowtail, bluefin tuna and even a few albacore have been biting in areas within three-quarter-day sportboat range of Point Loma. The bluefin opportunities tend to increase on overnight and 1.5-day trips, and the 1.5-day trips often also go to areas where yellowfin tuna are added to the list of possibilities.
Boats fishing areas within 50 miles of Point Loma are catching a mixed bag of bluefin tuna, dorado and yellowtail — and there has even been an occasional albacore in the mix. Boats have been fishing for bluefin tuna near three tuna pens located 45 to 50 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma. And kelp paddies have been providing a chance at dorado and yellowtail.
Action for dorado and yellowtail within one-day range of Point Loma has been widespread, with paddies ranging from the Inner Bank outside Ensenada to the 267 Spot outside Dana Point. Some of the best spots include the Hidden Bank, the 475 Knuckle, the 425 Spot, the 371 Bank, the 302 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 9-Mile Bank, the 182 Spot and 43 Fathom Spot.
As anglers fish farther north, above the 182 Spot, the numbers of fish holding under the paddies tend to thin out. Productive northern areas for yellowtail and dorado include the 181 Spot, the 312 Spot, the 209 Spot and the 267 Spot.
Boats fishing on 1.5-day to 2.5-day trips have generally been working an area spread from 110 to 140 miles, 158 to 163 degrees from Point Loma. There have been some big numbers of a mixed bag of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dorado and yellowtail biting in this zone.
The kelp paddy dorado and yellowtail fishing has been steady and has often provided near-limit to limit fishing. While bluefin and yellowfin have been more hit or miss lately, there have been some long bait stops on bluefin and yellowfin for those who are fortunate enough to find the right school of fish at the right time of day.
The hit-or-miss nature of the fishing on some of the 1.5-day to 2.5-day trips was demonstrated by reports from two recent three-day trips made by private boater Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever.
On the weekend of Aug. 4, Bowers reported two days of nonstop action on 30- to 55-pound yellowfin tuna, and his boat ended up with a catch of 60 yellowfin tuna, six bluefin tuna, two yellowtail and 11 dorado. The yellowfin tuna fishing was so good that they also caught and released 40 additional yellowfin tuna.
The report from Bowers’ three-day trip on the weekend of Aug. 11 demonstrates the hit-or-miss nature of the tuna fishing. After spending two days fishing in the same area where they had found epic yellowfin tuna fishing the week before, they had a count of four yellowfin tuna, 14 yellowtail and 11 dorado. Bowers’ best day of tuna fishing was actually on the last day of the trip, when they found good bluefin fishing within one-day range of Point Loma at the tuna pens below the Hidden Bank — 48 miles, 172 degrees from Point Loma. They added 16 bluefin that went to 30 pounds to their three-day total, to finish their trip in style.
Some additional recent private boater reports start with Brian Wilson of Fish Time, who fished near the tuna pens below the Hidden Bank with three friends aboard. They reported a great morning of fishing, catching 19 bluefin tuna and two dorado. Wilson reported their bluefin to be quality-size fish, with the biggest being around 40 pounds.
Private boater Tom Golding of Fast Buck fished a recent trip to the tuna pens and found the bluefin bite to be slow. Golding left the tuna pens to do some kelp paddy hopping and picked up a bluefin tuna and limits of yellowtail below the 371 Bank. The highlight of the day was when his friend Chris Kato caught his first-ever bluefin tuna.
Capt. Mike Hadfield of the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn from Point Loma Sportfishing fished a recent overnight trip to the tuna pens and reported getting into a good bluefin tuna bite. They were able to catch 17 bluefin tuna.
Hadfield said they were good-sized bluefin that were running between 20 and 38 pounds. He said that there were several 35- to 38-pound fish in their catch.
After the bluefin bite quieted down, Hadfield did some paddy hopping and found a kelp paddy that produced 11 dorado. The good dorado fishing was found below the 425 Bank — 31 miles, 189 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Bryan Cruz of Double Cross reported fishing a three-day trip to the tuna grounds, where yellowfin tuna have been biting — between 110 and 130 miles, 160 degrees from Point Loma. Cruz reported finding lots of yellowtail and dorado biting under the kelp paddies down that way, but he had slow fishing on bluefin and yellowfin tuna. They ended up catching one bluefin tuna to go with lots of yellowtail and dorado.
Private boater Rick DeVoe of Jaysea reported fishing spots around the Inner Bank area outside of Ensenada, on two trips out of Marina Coral. DeVoe reported picking up some yellowtail and dorado from kelp paddies found around the 238 Spot, 385 Spot and 475 Spot. He said they also caught an occasional dorado from a blind jig strike.
It was hit-or-miss action to find a good bite from a kelp paddy, and when the fish did not cooperate in biting, DeVoe’s son Ryder DeVoe would sometimes get in the water and spear a couple of fish.
The top fish of their two days of fishing was a 26-pound yellowtail caught by Ryder DeVoe. It was caught on rod and reel from a kelp paddy that produced two dorado and five yellowtail out of nine hook-ups. It was their best stop during two days of fishing, and the kelp paddy was found near the 238 Spot — 71 miles, 163 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Jeff Petit of O’ Strike reported fishing a recent trip to the area of the 302 Spot and catching five yellowtail. All the fish were caught from a single kelp paddy found 20 miles, 219 degrees from Point Loma. Petit said it was a foggy morning and that it was hard to see a kelp paddy with the poor visibility.
Capt. Bob Woodard Jr. of Dropback passed along a report about a private boater who picked up four albacore while fishing between the Hidden Bank and the 475 Knuckle. The sportboat Pacific Dawn out of Fisherman’s Landing had an albacore within the catch that was reported to have been caught in this same zone, and there is another report about an albacore being caught from this same area today, as this report went to press. The area producing this chance at some albacore action is between 35 and 40 miles, 170 to 174 degrees from Point Loma.
There are also some albacore in other areas. San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had an albacore within its catch on a recent trip to the 371 Bank, and there was a report from a reliable source that a couple of workboats caught an albacore or two while out between the 60-Mile Bank and the Butterfly Bank.
Private boater Jim Eisenberg of Quickturn fished a recent trip to an area above and inside of the 182 Spot, and he reported catching three dorado that went to 20 pounds. He had this action from a kelp paddy found 22 miles, 278 degrees from Point Loma.
Marlin fishing has been providing scattered action that is spread out over a large area. Productive spots during the past week were in an area 3 to 6 miles west of North Island, the 425 Bank, 101 Spot, 9-Mile Bank, 302 Spot, 224 Spot, 182 Spot, 138 Spot, 181 Spot, 209 Spot, 267 Spot, 14-Mile Bank, The Slide, 277 Spot and the area inside the Radar Dome at San Clemente Island.
Mike McGrath of Thumper reported catching and releasing a marlin while fishing a recent trip to the 224 Spot. The fish was caught in deep water a few miles inside of the 224 Spot and bit on a blue and pink Zuker jig.
Chris Lapham of Snooper reported catching their second marlin of the season while fishing the area of the 138 Spot on the Ridge. The fish was caught on a jig strike, and I believe it was released.
There have been a few private boaters fishing at Los Coronados islands, with a lot of boats staying away from the Coronados because of FMM Mexico immigration permit issues. There has been good fishing for yellowtail and barracuda reported by boats fishing out at Los Coronados islands, with the Middle Grounds, the lee side of South Island, the north end of South Island, Pukey Point and the south tip of North Island all producing some nice-sized yellowtail.
Private boater John Carroll of Huachinango fished a recent trip to Los Coronados islands and reported very good fishing for yellowtail and barracuda while slow trolling sardines inside of South Island. Carroll said they were fishing about a quarter-mile inside of the upper middle part of South Island and caught seven yellowtail.
They also caught and released several barracuda while working the area where the yellowtail were biting. They found the bulk of their action while slow-trolling nose-hooked sardines. The yellowtail that they caught were good-sized fish ranging from 15 to 20 pounds.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish, and there has also been a chance at finding a flurry of barracuda action or catching a white seabass, yellowtail or halibut.
Look to kelp bed areas up and down the San Diego County coast for calico bass, with the kelp at the Dropoff, Green Tank and Point Loma College being some of the best areas at Point Loma. At La Jolla, try for calicos along the edges of the kelp beds along the upper middle part of La Jolla and at the upper end of La Jolla.
Farther up the coast, Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star out of Helgren’s Sportfishing reported a nice mix of calico bass, sand bass, rockfish, sheephead and halibut biting at the kelp beds at Del Mar, Solana Beach and Leucadia.
The best chance at finding a flurry of barracuda action or catching a yellowtail has been outside of both the upper end and the lower end of La Jolla. Another productive area has been the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma.
There has been squid available to catch for bait at night, in about 15 fathoms of water outside of Del Mar. Try for white seabass at night and during the early morning hours, in the same area as you might locate the squid. There have also been some incidental catches of yellowtail and halibut reported by boats targeting white seabass while fishing with live squid.
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.