Bluefin and yellowfin continue late summer runs

SAN DIEGO—We were in the final week of summer fishing and fall bites are around the corner. Late summer runs of bluefin and yellowfin, however, continue to go strong and seem to be setting things up nicely, especially with regard to there being a lot of fish holding in local offshore waters as we head into the fall. The fall months can provide some of the best offshore fishing of the year as the pelagic fish can sometimes group up in warm water zones and go on feeding sprees as they prepare to migrate to warmer waters during the cold water late fall and winter months.

Anglers who would like to chase after jumbo sized bluefin tuna have been heading out to fish some of the spots outside of the back side of San Clemente Island where there have been good numbers of 150- to 300-plus pound bluefin tuna biting. Some of the recent better days of fishing have been very good with some private boaters reporting catching as many as five or six of the whopper-sized bluefin in a day of fishing.

Productive areas have been 3 to 8 miles to the southeast of Pyramid Head, the area a short way outside of Desperation Reef and while fishing around and about the 81 Fathom Spot, the 86 Fathom Spot and the 57 Fathom Spot. Drifted kite flown flying fish and drifted helium filled balloon fished flying fish have been working the best for the large and the jumbo sized bluefin. Live, fresh dead and frozen flying fish have all been effective.

There have also been some showings of 40- to 120-pound bluefin in areas such as the 9 Mile Bank, 8 to 15 miles off La Jolla, the 289 Spot, the 181 Spot and the 182 Spot but the bluefin in these areas tend of be up and down quickly and more often than not are difficult to get to bite. The best bet for the bluefin in these areas has been casting poppers to the spots of breaking fish before they sound.

There has been good fishing for a mix of 20- to 90-pound bluefin and 8- to 30-pound yellowfin for boats fishing some of the offshore banks in the waters ranging from below and outside of the Coronado Islands on down to the offshore banks outside of Ensenada. One of the current good bite areas is in the region above and inside of the 390 Bank while fishing about 38 to 40 miles, 205 to 210 degrees from Point Loma. The other current good bite area is while fishing to the northwest of the 385 Spot down at 45 to 48 miles 170 to 175 degrees from Point Loma.

In addition to bluefin and yellowfin, there have been some yellowtail, Dorado and improving numbers of skipjack biting in the same areas as talked about in the paragraph above. Stops on the bluefin and yellowfin schools have been originating from stopping on meter marks, sonar marks, spots of breaking fish, spots of breezing fish, kelp paddies, skipjack trolling strikes and the occasional yellowfin or bluefin trolling strike. The best stops turn into long drifts where the fish stay with the boat and anglers pick away at the fish on live sardines.

The Balboa Angling Club held its Master’s Billfish Tournament on Sept. 13 and 14, with 41 boats participating. There were striped marlin and swordfish biting and it was an epic event with regard to swordfish fishing! The unofficial totals I have for the two days of fishing, from what I counted in listening to tournament control, were 12 swordfish hookups, resulting in six boated swordfish. On the striped marlin front my unofficial tally was 14 marlin hookups, with seven of the marlin hookups caught and released.

What was incredible was that Kea Kaiboated four swordfish during the tournament; three of those swordfish were boated by angler Charlie Albright; one came in 137 pounds and another weighed 219 pounds. Sam Long was the angler who caught the fourth swordfish aboard the Kea Kai.I am thinking one would have to go back to the days of the legendary Ted Naftzger fishing aboard Hustler to find the last time someone caught a two-fish limit of swordfish in California waters!

Los Coronado Islands have not seen much fishing pressure lately due to the good tuna fishing in local offshore waters but there was some recent news from Los Coronado Islands via a report from a private boater. He reported he and another caught their limits of 12- to 16-pound yellowtail while fishing along the lee side of South Island.

A second recent report from Los Coronado Islands was from another private boater who reported about some nice sized calico bass biting while fishing around some of the boiler rocks at North Island. The bottom fishing is usually good around Los Coronado Islands and goodareas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north, the northwest and the northeast of North Island while fishing in 20 to 45 fathoms of water.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, small bonito, reds, rockfish, whitefish and sculpin and there has also been a chance at catching a bonus lingcod, halibut or yellowtail.

There has been a bit of recent improvement in the yellowtail activity with the upper end of La Jolla producing an occasional yellowtail and with a few spots of breezing yellowtail being found during the early morning hours in the Imperial Beach area for boats fishing a short way above the Mexico border.

Calico bass continue to provide most of the surface fishing action with kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast producing action.  Some of the more productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Solana Beach and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon.

Hard bottom and structure spots have also been producing some bass and sculpin with productive places being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom spots between the Imperial Beach Pipeline and the Mexico border, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

Rockfish continue to be a significant part of the coastal fishing picture with recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.

The summer fishing season is getting ready to roll over into fall and the good fun fishing we are enjoying might just get even better if the fish group up and go on feeding frenzies like they sometimes do before migrating to warmer waters for the winter months. 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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