Big bluefin tuna providing late-winter fishing action

SAN DIEGO—The spring fishing season is upon us and the good news is that offshore anglers have bluefin tuna to target in areas that are as close to San Diego as the 9 Mile Bank. That said, the best of the bluefin fishing is being found at a further distance from Point Loma for boats fishing 1.5- to 2-day trips to the waters outside of Punta Colnett.

The bluefin fishing outside of Punta Colnett was good last weekend and the catches coming from the area included a good number of 100- to 170-pound fish and ranged in size from 20 to 170 pounds.

Some counts from the weekend’s fishing start with Fisherman’s Landing that reports that Pacific Queen fished a Saturday 1.5-day trip with 32 anglers who caught 47 bluefin tuna. Fifteen of their bluefin were reported to be in the 120- to 170-pound range and the rest of the bluefin were reported to be in the 20- to 70-pound range.

Fisherman’s Landing also reports that Tomahawk returned from a weekend two-day trip with 18 anglers having caught 36 bluefin tuna and 10 yellowtail. The bluefin aboard Tomahawk ranged in size from 30 to 170 pounds. Eleven of their bluefin ranged from 150 to 170 pounds, 8 of their bluefin were between 100 and 140 pounds and the rest were in the 30- to 70-pound range.

H&M Landing reports having Old Glory fishing a 1.5-day trip with 16 anglers who caught nine bluefin tuna and 6 yellowtail. The bluefin aboard Old Glory ranged in size from 100 to 132 pounds.

H&M Landing also reports that Poseidon fished a 1.75-day trip with 16 anglers who caught 13 bluefin tuna that ranged in size from 50 to 110 pounds.

The past weekend also saw a lot of private boaters out looking for bluefin tuna in local offshore waters within 30 miles of Point Loma. The weekend’s fishing in this local zone saw some scattered bluefin tuna activity being reported by boats fishing the Coronado Canyon, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the deep water inside of the 302 Spot. The showings of bluefin were mostly situations where the fish were up and down quickly and hard to get to before they would sound. The best report came from a private boater Skipper who reported the fish stayed up well for them and they caught three bluefin out of a mid-morning showing of bluefin at the Coronado Canyon.

The fishing around Los Coronado Islands remains very good for reds, rockfish and an occasional lingcod. The surface fishing has generally been slow, but there has been an occasional flurry of bonito or yellowtail action. Good news about the surface fishing is there was improved yellowtail action to report from the most recent trip on Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing. The fish count on Liberty was 18 anglers catching nine yellowtail, 40 reds and 100 rockfish.

The Rockpile has been the best zone for a chance at locating yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands and the Rockpile area has also been providing good fishing for reds and rockfish. The best bet once yellowtail are located has been to fish with yo-yoed iron. The yellowtail fishing has been difficult for most private boaters as most of the yellowtail action has been originating from stopping on sonar marks found with scanning sonar. The difficulty for most private boaters results from the fact that most private boats are equipped with traditional up and down style fathometers and are not equipped with scanning sonar.

The fishing for an assortment of bottom fish remains good around Los Coronado Islands. In addition to the Rockpile, productive areas for the bottom fishing include hard bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island while working in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. Also productive has been fishing the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while keeping on the Mexico side of the border and fishing in the 60 to 80 fathom depths. Another productive rockfish zone around the Coronado Islands has been fishing spots along the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 20 to 40 fathom depths.

Boats fishing areas along the San Diego County coast have been finding good mixed bag fishing for reds, rockfish, bass, sculpin and whitefish and are also catching an occasional halibut. The surface fishing has been scratchy but there have been occasional showings of yellowtail off La Jolla, around The 270 (to the west of Mission Bay), in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and outside of the Imperial Beach Pipeline.

Productive coastal areas for reds and an assortment of rockfish have been the International Reef located a short way above the Mexico border, hard bottom areas to the west, southwest and southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the hard bottom outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the area outside of the lower and the upper ends of La Jolla, the ridge outside of Del Mar, the hard bottom outside of Leucadia, and Box Canyon.

The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been producing pretty good mixed bag fishing for sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin along with an occasional bonus halibut.  Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #5 at Point Loma, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp while fishing below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon

Areas producing occasional halibut action along the San Diego County coast are the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, fishing in 180 to 220 feet of water at the sandy bottom outside of the Oceanside Pier, fishing the sandy bottom areas adjacent to the structure of the Yukon shipwreck and adjacent to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach and fishing the area between the Imperial Beach Pier and the Tijuana River.  San Diego Bay is another place where some biting halibut have been found.

The spring season is here and I pray you stay healthy and hope you can get out on the water and get in on the spring time fishing. 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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