Big bluefin tuna highlight offshore fishing

The run of big bluefin tuna continues off the Southern California. In addition to large bluefin offshore anglers are also finding some action on yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail and striped marlin. The best overall bluefin bite area is currently outside of China Point at San Clemente Island with good fishing mostly in the 60- to 125-pound range. These catches have been biting well on live sardines, live squid, Flat Fall jigs and Colt Snipers. The best area for a chance at one of the jumbo-sized bluefin to 280+ pounds has been the 43 Fathom Spot.

The boats fishing the bluefin off China Point at San Clemente Island have either been sitting on the anchor at Desperation Reef in the 35 to 50 fathom depths or else drift fishing in the deeper water outside of the anchored boats. Live sardines and live squid have been the two best baits for the 60- to 125-pound bluefin that have been biting in the area. Anglers have been getting bit well on outfits with 30-pound test fluorocarbon leaders and using 40-pound test brings some strikes as well. When the fish are on a good bite, using 50- and 60-pound test can also draw some strikes. To maximize the chances of catching one of these big bluefin, anglers try to balance using as heavy a tackle as they can with having enough stealth to be able to draw a strike.

Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever reported about fishing a three-day trip over the Labor Day weekend. Bowers fished the area outside of China Point at San Clemente Island each day and caught 19 large bluefin tuna. The fish ranged in size from 60 to 90 pounds and most were reported to be in the 80- to 85-pound range.

Lee Fleming of Jawbreaker also reported about fishing a recent trip to the tuna grounds outside of Desperation Reef in the China Point area at San Clemente Island. Fleming reported catching two big bluefin tuna out of seven hookups. The two fish they boated taped out via the fish weight formula to be in the 100- to 110-pound class.

The fish were hooked on live sardines and live squid and Fleming said they were able to jig some squid under their light before sunrise when they first got to the area outside of the anchored boats at Desperation Reef.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, bonito and rockfish. There was also an occasional flurry of action on barracuda or yellowtail. Some of the better kelp bed, hard bottom and structure spot areas from south to north have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the kelp at Imperial Beach, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Dropoff, the Lab, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the Barn, Box Canyon and San Onofre.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reported finding very good calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas below Oceanside Harbor. Cacciola reported about a recent trip where they fished the kelp at Carlsbad, the area of lower Cardiff below the MLPA closure zone and Solana Beach. Cacciola said the water conditions along this stretch of coast have improved over the past few days and that the water was a clear blue green color and was running 71 to 72 degrees.

Cacciola’s first stop was at the kelp at Carlsbad. He found some pretty good fishing with some calico bass and sheephead biting but was looking for something better. He moved farther south and fished the kelp bed area at Solana Beach and the kelp bed area below the MLPA closure area at lower Cardiff. Those moves paid off as the calico bass fishing was very good and also found some action on small bonito. In all about 200 calico bass were caught on the day, of which 20 were legal sized fish and the remainder being short sized fish that were released. Also caught were a mix of assorted rockfish, bonito and sheephead. They did not have any yellowtail action but Cacciola reported they have been hooking an occasional big yellowtail.

We are getting close to being into the fall fishing season, which often provides the best fishing of the year. Do not make the mistake of putting away your fishing tackle just yet as some of the best action of the season just might be still to come. 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 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

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