SAN DIEGO—It will be the middle of November by the time you might first be reading this and it looks like the 2019 offshore fishing season is going to last a while longer as the fishing for yellowfin is as good as it has been all season. There are still bluefin and kelp paddie yellowtail biting as well. I was listening to the VHF radio this morning prior to preparing this report and it was one private boater after another talking about catching their limits of yellowfin. The yellowfin fishing on sportboats has been equally good and has been reaching near limit to limit numbers of yellowfin on a lot of trips in recent days as well. In addition to the great yellowfin fishing there has been a mix of bluefin, kelp paddie yellowtail and skipjack in recent catches as well.
There are two main areas of yellowfin activity right now with the region between the 9 Mile Bank and the 224 Spot at the Kidney Bank being a productive zone for boats fishing from 18 to 30 miles 230 to 240 degrees from Point Loma. The other hotspot area is the Butterfly Bank and the 390 Bank that are producing lots of yellowfin and some pretty good numbers of bluefin. Most of the yellowfin by the 9 Mile Bank and 224 Spot are running from 15 to 25 pounds and most of the yellowfin out by the Butterfly Bank and 390 Bank have been in the 20- to 40-pound range. Most of the bluefin out by the Butterfly Bank and 390 Bank have been in the 40- to 60-pound range with occasional larger fish entering the picture that have ranged to 300-plus pounds.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported catching limits of yellowfin tuna while fishing a recent trip to the Butterfly Bank. Golding’s limit catch for the three anglers aboard came from a single 3.5-hour stop that he found from stopping on a meter mark and chumming. The yellowfin stop was so good that before leaving to head for home, they turned the stop over to a sportboat that accepted their invitation to take over the stop and came over and started catching yellowfin right away.
Golding said the yellowfin were not shy about biting their sardines. They started out using 30-pound test fluorocarbon leaders on 30 pound test line but once the fish got going they were able to tie their hooks straight to 60-pound test monofilament and get bit right away. Their yellowfin were running from 25 to 40 pounds and they found the hot action in 65.67-degree water while fishing to the south-southeast of the eastern wing tip of the Butterfly Bank at 51 miles 223 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Capt. Bob Fletcher of Fletch reported about fishing the Butterfly Bank aboard a recent 1.5-day trip aboard Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing. Fletcher said they had a great trip with 33 anglers catching 125 yellowfin tuna and 58 bluefin tuna. Fletcher described it as being “one amazing day of fishing” and said the quality size of the fish they were catching was outstanding. Most of their yellowfin tuna were in the 20- to 40-pound range and their bluefin tuna were up in the 40- to 50- pound class. Fletcher said his biggest fish on the day was a bluefin that was up in the 45- to 50-pound range.
Private boater Marcus Hale of Cabrilla reported about fishing a recent trip to the Butterfly Bank and he reported finding good fishing for a mix of bluefin, yellowfin and yellowtail. They caught two bluefin in the 50- to 60-pound class, two yellowfin in the 30- to 40-pound range and a bunch yellowtail from a kelp paddie. Hale reported finding the action while fishing about 5 miles southeast of the southern wing tip of the Butterfly Bank which has you down at 55 miles 222 degrees from Point Loma.
The fishing for jumbo sized bluefin tuna to 300-plus pounds off the back side of San Clemente Island had been holding up pretty steady but the bite did drop off and turn scratchy over the past weekend. What was good off the back side of San Clemente Island over the past weekend was the fishing for 35- to 40-pound yellowfin tuna and a few of the 60-pound bluefin tuna that were biting for some boats fishing the region between Desperation Reef and the 81 Fathom Spot. There are still some of the jumbo sized bluefin around and the region of the 381 Spot and the area to the west and southwest of the 57 Fathom Spot are two zones where there has been some jumbo sized bluefin tuna activity reported in recent days.
The jumbo sized bluefin off the back side of San Clemente Island have been biting best on kite fished flying fish or helium balloon fished flying fish. The yellowfin and the 60 pound sized bluefin that have been biting in the Desperation Reef and 81 Fathom Spot sector over the past couple of days have been biting well on sardines and mackerel.
There are still some bluefin and yellowfin in the Catalina region but it is often times difficult to get them to bite. Skippers report seeing spots of breaking tuna while fishing around the eastern part of the Island while working off the Slide, the 152 Spot and the 277 Spot. At times there has also been tuna activity found while working 2 to 4 miles off the back side of the Island ranging from being outside of Church Rock on up to the Farnsworth Bank. Several days ago there was a report of a boat that was fishing while anchored at the Farnsworth Bank that caught several yellowtail, a couple of bluefin tuna and hooked and lost 2 marlin. There are also some kelp paddie yellowtail in the Catalina region with a weekend report of kelp paddies found between the 277 Spot and the 289 Spot holding biting yellowtail.
Marlin activity has been slow with marlin encounters being widely scattered and inconsistent. Areas producing occasional marlin activity have been the Farnsworth Bank, the 152 Spot, the 277 Spot, the Slide, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot. Deep drop fishing for swordfish continues to produce occasional action with my estimate being that there were two or three swordfish that were caught over the past weekend. Productive areas for the deep drop swordfish fishing have been the 152 Spot, 277 Spot, the Slide, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot.
There were a couple of recent reports from Los Coronado Islands and the reports were of good fishing for rockfish along with a chance at getting into some bonito action. Good spots to try for bonito would be the Rockpile and the weather side of North Island. Productive bottom fishing areas 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, reds, rockfish, whitefish and sculpin and there has also been a chance at catching a bonus bonito, lingcod, halibut or yellowtail. The best zone for a chance at scratching out a yellowtail along the coast has been at the upper end of La Jolla but the yellowtail fishing remains slow.
Calico bass are still biting at kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast but a lot of Skippers have been focusing on fishing for rockfish. 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.
In addition to the kelp bed areas, 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 are getting a lot more attention as the seasons change and the water continues to cool. There have been recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.
We are well into the month of November and the 2019 tuna season is still going strong. Do not make the mistake of putting your tackle away for the winter too early as the tuna should stay around as long as the water conditions remain favorable and there is food for them to eat. If northern and western weather systems steer clear of Southern California for a while longer, I would expect the tuna to stay around for a while. 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.