Bluefin tuna continue to bite at offshore banks within 40 miles of Point Loma and have been providing Southern California anglers with the chance at catching the fish of a lifetime. The bluefin have been running between 50 and 250 pounds, with most falling between 60 and 130 pounds. Compliment bluefin tuna are improving numbers of yellowfin tuna. The yellowfin have also been quality sized 20- to 60-pound fish.
Productive areas have been the 9 Mile Bank, 302 Spot, 371 Bank, 425 Bank and Upper Hidden Bank. There have been spots of breaking bluefin showing at all these locations when the fish are up and showing well on a good “up day” of fishing.
The best bets for the bluefin have been trying to get bait or a lure to a spot of breaking fish before they sound. Surface iron, poppers and thin metal blade yo-yo style jigs have all been effective for those using jigs. Mackerel have been the best choice for those using live bait with live sardines also producing some action. For those fishing live bait, flylining and slow trolling have been effective but live bait flown from a kite has most often been the best way to go. Poppers have been the most popular and effective. Private boater Jerry Garrett of Jeramar passed along a report that his son, George Garrett of Joker, caught a 130.3-pound bluefin tuna on 80 pound test dacron line while fishing aboard the private boat Provider. The catch of the big bluefin resulted in George Garrett qualifying for the Tuna Club’s Green Button award. Its owner, Rodney Couch, skippered the Provider.
Capt. Jason Reiss of the six-pack charter yacht Hi-Count out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a recent three-quarter day trip where four anglers caught four bluefin tuna. The catch was made up of jumbo-sized fish. All the bluefin were up over the 100-pound mark and the two largest fish weighed in at 187 pounds and 243 pounds.
Recent catches have also seen improved numbers of yellowfin tuna biting incidental to the bluefin fishing. Private boater Marcus Hale of Old Blue got into both yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna while fishing a recent trip to the 371 Bank and reported catching four yellowfin (20 to 40 pounds) tuna and one bluefin tuna (about 60 pounds).
The surface fishing along the San Diego County coast has also been scratchy. There have been good numbers of assorted rockfish and sculpin biting to go with some fair numbers of bass and an occasional halibut, yellowtail or barracuda. The water conditions along the coast have recently improved and gone from being an off color green and in the low 60s to 66 degrees and a clean green color.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reported of improved water conditions on his most recent trip to the kelp beds at Solana Beach. He saw immediate signs of improved surface fishing with both the calico bass and the sand bass becoming more active in the kelp beds. They had a nice mixed bag catch of sheephead, sculpin, rockfish, sand bass and calico bass. A 30-pound halibut topped off their catch.
Cacciola reported fish were biting well on the 4- to 6-inch sardines and on strips of squid. Plastics were also working well for the sand bass and calico bass. The Sea Star captain mentioned the shrimp Berkley Gulp plastics as being effective plastic bait.
Catalina Island continues to produce a mix of yellowtail, white seabass, calico bass and bonito. Live squid remains the best bait and has been available to catch at the V’s and Salta Verde. At times squid boats have been selling squid while anchored off Avalon and you can try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 11 or 72. It is also good practice to check with the mainland bait receivers for live squid as they have also had live squid for sale at times as well.
There have been quite a few productive areas around Catalina with some of the better spots being the V’s, Salta Verde, Orange Rocks, Freddie’s, Beach, West Cove and Hen Rock. The best chance for a white seabass has been at the squid grounds off the V’s and Salta Verde while fishing during the dark and early morning daylight hours. The early morning daylight hours at the squid grounds have also produced a few yellowtail.
It is not often when we have jumbo sized bluefin tuna to 250 pounds in local offshore waters. This has been an ongoing opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime while fishing within 30 miles of Point Loma. I hope you get out there and give it a try! 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.