By: Bob Vanian
We are at the time of year when anglers are starting to get twitchy in anticipation of springtime surface fishing for yellowtail, barracuda and calico bass. So far, this type of action has yet to develop in any significant way — but that could easily change any day now, as the water conditions are continuing to improve.
Skippers out over the past weekend were finding nice-looking blue 60- to 62-degree water while fishing for rockfish outside the stretch of coast between the Green Tank at Point Loma and the upper end of La Jolla. With favorable water conditions around, we might not have to wait much longer for significant numbers of yellowtail and barracuda.
While playing the waiting game for some surface fish to arrive, anglers have plenty to do to keep busy — catching an assortment of rockfish, sculpin and bass. There have also been a few bonus halibut biting, but the halibut bite is not quite as strong as it was over the past several weeks.
One of the best areas for halibut fishing has been off Imperial Beach and the Hotel del Coronado, but the water in this zone recently turned an off-color green and the halibut bite has been off from what it was during March.
There are still a few halibut reported caught from this region, and the best depths have been in 30 to 50 feet of water for anglers drifting outside the Imperial Beach Pier — or drifting in 20 to 50 feet of water near the Hotel del Coronado.
There have also been a few halibut biting for boats fishing along the sandy bottom outside Mission Beach and below the Marine Protected Area no-fishing zone at Pacific Beach. A good depth range for anglers drift fishing in this location has been in 30 to 50 feet of water, with anglers reporting success working the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the Yukon shipwreck.
Drifting the sandy bottom next to structure has also been a good way to target halibut in the Oceanside area. Try the area around the Anderson and Buccaneer pipelines, as well as near the artificial reefs outside Oceanside Harbor.
Productive areas for rockfish in the Point Loma region have included the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard-bottom area outside the Whistler Buoy and hard-bottom areas outside Green Tank and Sunset Cliffs. Fishing in 35 to 40 fathoms of water has been productive, and there has also been some action on bass, sculpin and rockfish at the Jetty Kelp outside Mission Bay — in 16- to 18-fathom depths.
Going farther north, there have been rockfish biting outside both the upper and lower ends of La Jolla, in about 40 fathoms of water. In the Oceanside region, one of the best areas for rockfish has been outside Box Canyon, in 50 to 58 fathoms of water.
Private boater Alan Petrasek of Jersey Girl was out on a recent trip fishing for rockfish outside Mission Bay and the lower end of La Jolla. He said it was a nice day out on the water, and that he picked away at some reds while fishing at about 40 fathoms depth. Petrasek reported fishing in some good-looking blue water throughout this area.
Los Coronados islands would be a likely place for barracuda and yellowtail to show and start biting. Skippers have been looking for signs of these and other surface-fishing species, but have yet to see much.
The best areas for rockfish angling around Los Coronados islands have been the hard-bottom locations north of North Island in 30- to 40-fathom depths, as well as at the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank on the Mexican side of the border, in 60 to 80 fathoms of water. The catches in these areas have been highlighted by some nice-size reds and salmon grouper.
The surface fishing season has been slow in developing, but it is still very early, and something could break open at any time. Until that happens, take the time to enjoy the fun bottomfishing now available — with bass, sculpin, halibut and rockfish.
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 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.