SAN DIEGO — The Southern California offshore fishing season continues to show progress as improving numbers of yellowfin tuna are starting to join with the bluefin tuna and yellowtail that have been around and biting since March. The offshore bite was up and down in late spring as mild weather systems continued to move through the area. The weather systems usually provided setbacks to the fishing by bringing days of windy and sloppy ocean conditions that keep the water conditions unsettled.
Anglers are hoping these weather systems will continue to weaken and eventually end so water conditions could better stabilize and allow the offshore bite to develop.
Heading into the past weekend, sportboat counts were on the rise with a lot of the trips returning with bluefin counts in the 20s and 30s. There was one day of bad weather (May 27) and the bite has really slowed down since then, with most vessels reporting less than five combined bluefin and yellowfin tuna per boat.
San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing on a May 28 three-quarter-day trip had 31 anglers who caught 3 yellowtail, 2 yellowfin tuna and 1 bluefin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Tribute out on an overnight trip May 28 with 34 anglers catching 2 bluefin tuna and 3 yellowtail.
H&M Landing had Relentless fishing an overnight trip with 20 anglers catching 3 yellowtail. H&M Landing also had Daiwa Pacific out on a three-quarter-day trip with 27 anglers catching 1 bluefin tuna.
Point Loma Sportfishing had the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn out fishing a three-quarter-day trip with 6 anglers catching 2 bonito and 1 bluefin tuna. Point Loma Sportfishing also had the Mission Belle out fishing a three-quarter_day trip with 15 anglers reeling in 4 yellowtail.
Fisherman’s Landing had Liberty fishing a three-quarter-day trip that returned with 1 bluefin tuna. Fisherman’s Landing also had Prowler fishing an overnight trip that returned with 1 bluefin tuna and 2 yellowtail.
The bluefin tuna have been the highlight species and most have been running between 20 and 30 pounds with improving numbers of larger fish to 140 pounds entering the mix. The yellowtail have been running from 3 to 18 pounds with more of the larger yellowtail starting to show in the catch during the past week of fishing. The few yellowfin tuna biting have been nice sized fish with most in the 30- to 40-pound range.
Recent areas that have produced offshore tuna action have been between 20 and 45 miles from Point Loma. Listed from the south to the north, productive areas have been the Upper Hidden Bank, the 371 Bank, the 425 Bank, the 302 Spot, the Corner, the 182 Spot and the 181 Spot. The waters around and about the 425 Bank, 371 Bank and Upper Hidden Bank have been the best.
John Campbell of the 2017 International Yellowtail Derby reports the current first place yellowtail was caught on May 24 by private boater Harry Okuda. The fish was reportedly caught while fishing to the east of the 9 Mile Bank. It was a whopping 49-pound, 11.2-ounce yellowtail caught on a trolled Rapala.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been providing a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin and rockfish along with an occasional flurry of yellowtail action and an occasional white seabass. The surface fishing has been pretty scratchy in recent days with some cool and off color water moving around in a lot of the kelp bed areas. A lot of the boats have been focusing on rockfish fishing until the water conditions improve.
The upper end of La Jolla has been the best zone for a chance at a coastal yellowtail but the bite has been inconsistent. Slow trolled and drifted mackerel have been the best bet for the yellows. Try drifting flylined mackerel and drifting mackerel that are fished down deep on a dropper loop rig. The La Jolla yellowtail tend to be the larger sized 20- to 30-pound fish.
It has generally been a scratchy spring of halibut fishing but Capt. Billy of the six-pack charter yacht Tailblazen reported about a recent half-day charter where they caught two legal sized halibut and caught-and-released some short sized halibut. Capt. Billy reported finding this action while fishing between the Whistler Buoy and Buoy #3 at Point Loma.
San Clemente Island has been providing some flurries of yellowtail action to go along with a nice mix of calico bass, bonito and rockfish. The yellowtail have been biting best along the back side of the Island while fishing the ridges outside of the stretch between Pyramid Cove and China Point and have also been biting outside of Lost Point. A good depth range has been 18 to 23 fathoms of water. The front side of the Island has been producing more of a mixed bag of yellowtail, bonito and calico bass for boats fishing the White Rock and Gold Bluff areas.
Most of the San Clemente Island yellows have been in the 10- to 20-pound range and live squid continues to be the best bait. A few yellows have also been biting on yo-yoed iron. The squid being used for bait is being brought over to San Clemente Island from Catalina.
Catalina Island has been producing occasional flurries of yellowtail and white sea bass action along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish. The best zone for yellowtail and white seabass has been while fishing outside of the stretch between the V’s and Salta Verde. Another productive yellowtail zone has been for boats fishing spots off the Isthmus and Johnson’s Rock. Boats fishing spots around the East End and along the middle part of the front side of the Island have also been seeing a few yellowtail biting and have been catching some bonito, barracuda and calico bass.
The yellowtail at Catalina have been mixed size fish ranging from 5 to 30 pounds. Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and white sea bass.
The best squid zone at Catalina has been along the backside of the island with squid being found at areas such as China Point, Ben Weston and the V’s. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about fishing spots inside of the western part of Catalina. Golding reported catching a 27 pound yellowtail while fishing the Johnson’s Rock area.
The spring fishing season marches on and is providing a chance at a wide variety of species be it fishing offshore, at the local Islands or along the coast. 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 www.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.
Thunderbird Sportfishing photo