Anglers reeling in yellowtail, playing hide-and-seek with bluefin

SAN DIEGO — The spring fishing season has provided Southern California anglers a chance at catching bluefin tuna and yellowtail in local offshore waters the past two months. This spring has also seen a lot of weather systems come through Southern California and Northern Baja waters. The bluefin and yellowtail have been holding in local offshore waters despite the numerous weather fronts, but that pattern has seemingly changed subsequent to a weather system passing through on the weekend of May 5. The good offshore yellowtail bite has continued in the eight days following the exit of that weather system, but the bluefin bite has fallen off and turned scratchy. Anglers are hoping the bluefin are just in a temporary down mode, will pop up and be relocated again sometime soon.

Fifteen anglers aboard Seaforth Sportfishing’s Tribute on a May 14 overnight trip caught 75 yellowtail. Seaforth Sportfishing also had a three-quarter-day trip the same day aboard San Diego. The 27 anglers caught 116 yellowtail. Point Loma Sportfishing had a three-quarter-day trip fishing on Mission Belle; the 23 anglers aboard caught 115 yellowtail. H&M Landing had a three-quarter-day trip on Malihini with 20 anglers bringing in 100 yellowtail. Fisherman’s Landing had Liberty fishing a three-quarter-day trip with 16 anglers and reeled-in 78 yellowtail and 4 bonito.

Yellowtail, in the offshore kelp paddie, have been mostly 3- to 7-pound fish with some bigger fish in the mix near 12 pounds. Most of the yellowtail are being caught on live sardines while fishing around kelp paddies. There have also been some bonito in the mix and the bonito have been 6- to 10-pound fish that have been caught from trolling strikes, kelp paddies and stopping around spots of working birds or breaking fish.

There has not been much fishing pressure at Los Coronado Islands lately. Boats have been fishing in offshore waters for yellowtail, bluefin and bonito. The occasional report coming from Los Coronado Islands has been of a pretty good mix of barracuda, yellowtail and calico bass biting to go with good numbers of rockfish.

The surface fishing at the kelp bed areas along the San Diego County Coast has been improving with pretty good numbers of calico bass biting along with a few barracuda. The calico bass action is often better than the fish counts might indicate. A lot of the calico bass being caught are undersized (12- to 13.5-inch fish) and must be released.

In addition to calico bass, the kelp beds at La Jolla and Point Loma have also been providing a chance at catching yellowtail. A private boater fishing outside of Point Loma in 130 feet of water recently reported he saw, out of nowhere, some large yellowtail showing under spots working birds. Prepared for yellowtail, he was able to take advantage of the opportunity and catch two or three of the 20- to 25-pound class yellowtail on yo-yoed iron. Recent yellowtail action has also been seen outside of La Jolla; a skipper fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla reported catching a 25-pound yellowtail on a slow trolled live mackerel.

San Clemente Island has been producing a mix of yellowtail, calico bass and rockfish, but the yellowtail bite has been just fair for most boats in recent days. The best areas for fishing yellowtail have been at White Rock and Gold Bluff along the front side of the Island, off the stretch between Pyramid Cove and China Point as well as outside of Lost Point along the backside of the Island. Live squid has been the best bait and is usually imported to San Clemente Island from Catalina.

Catalina Island is producing a pretty good to good mix of calico bass, bonito, barracuda and rockfish and has also been producing an occasional flurry of white sea bass or yellowtail action. The best areas for a chance at catching white sea bass and yellowtail have been while fishing between the V’s and Salta Verde. The East End of Catalina and spots along the front side of the middle part of the Island have been producing more of a mixed bag of bass, bonito, barracuda and yellowtail.

The spring fishing season continues to develop with anglers able to target fun fishing offshore, at the local islands or along the coast. A prolonged stretch of good weather should allow the developing springtime bites to kick into high gear. Keep on fishing and 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 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

Parimal M. Rohit photo

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