SAN DIEGO — February is not a month that brings to mind bluefin tuna fishing. However this year provided an “out of season” chance at catching a bluefin within 1.5- to 2-day range of Point Loma. The most recent catch was made aboard Excel out of Fisherman’s Landing, when an angler brought on a 104-pound bluefin over the rails on Feb. 15. The information I have is the fish was caught from stopping on a spot of breaking fish found outside of San Martin Island. This is the second bluefin of the 2017 season, with the first being caught aboard Eclipse out of Seaforth Sportfishing incidental to fishing for yellowtail below Punta Colnett during early February.
The Punta Colnett area provided the best fishing of the winter season with a mix of yellowtail, lingcod, reds, bonito and assorted rockfish. The past couple of weeks have seen the bite fade a bit though with stormy weather entering the picture at times and with a large swell sometimes present on what have otherwise been decent weather days.
The most recent report from the Punta Colnett region comes from private boater, Capt. Bob Fletcher of Fletch, who was out fishing aboard Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing with Capt. Drew Card.
They started the day fishing at the high spot area outside of Punta Colnett and found the yellowtail fishing to be slow. Fletcher said they saw a couple of small spots of yellowtail with scanning sonar but could not get them to respond to their baits and lures.
After giving the Punta Colnett area a try during the early morning they ran down the coast about 15 miles to fish the Punta Camalu area. Punta Camalu has produced yellowtail action in recent weeks but the water temperature when the arrived was 59 degrees with no yellowtail activity.
Fletcher reported they ran back up the line to finish their day of fishing back where they started. They saw a couple of more spots of yellowtail with their scanning sonar but that the fish did not respond to their baits and lures. They ended up picking away at some reds and rockfish to finish off their day.
There has been occasional surface fishing activity on bonito and yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands during the winter season but overall, the surface fishing has been slow. The weather side of North Island has been the best area to look for a chance at locating yellowtail or bonito.
A good zone for the bottom fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been at hard bottom spots to the north and the northwest of North Island while fishing in the 35 to 55 fathom depths. Also productive has been fishing the 30 to 45 fathom depths along the outer ridge areas ranging from outside of South Island on down to where you are fishing outside of the South Kelp below South Island. The lower end of the 9 Mile Bank has also been producing some rockfish and an occasional lingcod while fishing on the Mexico side of the border.
Good news for anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border: the seasonal two-month rockfish/groundfish closure in Southern California waters comes to an end to allow fishing for rockfish beginning March 1.
While the rockfish/groundfish closure has been in effect, anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border targeted species open to fishing. The yellowtail and white seabass fishing has been rather slow during the past few weeks.
The La Jolla region has provided the best chance at locating yellowtail or white seabass while fishing off the stretch of coast between Pacific Beach and the upper end of La Jolla. Within this zone there have been three areas where yellowtail activity has been reported. There has been a chance at finding some yellowtail action in the area below and outside of the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach. The occasional showings of yellowtail in this zone have been reported at the hard bottom located below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla in 15 to 18 fathoms of water. Also worth a look has been the area outside of the middle part of La Jolla in 15 to 20 fathoms of water while fishing a short way above the MLPA closure zone that is located at the lower end of La Jolla. The third area that has provided a chance at finding some yellowtail activity has been at the upper end of La Jolla while fishing in 13 to 20 fathoms of water.
In recent days there was also a showing of yellowtail reported by a boat fishing at the Imperial Beach Pipeline. I did not hear of any yellowtail being caught but there were a few good-sized yellowtail seen incidental to fishing bass and sculpin.
Productive areas off the San Diego County coast for the bass and sculpin have been Box Canyon, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, Carlsbad, Leucadia, the upper end of La Jolla, the Jetty Kelp in front of Mission Bay, the Point Loma Pipeline, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and the Imperial Beach Pipeline.
The 2017 Southern California ocean fishing season is in it’s infancy but to have bluefin tuna a possibility in February gives anglers good reason to be optimistic. 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 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.