Bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and striped marlin highlight offshore action

The fall fishing season will be underway by the time this report hits the news stands and Southern California anglers have good reason to think that we might be in for a fine fall fishing season with bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, marlin, dorado and yellowtail biting. The number of areas where bluefin tuna catches are being made has been declining but there is still good action to be found on quality sized bluefin that are running from 40 to 125 pounds. Yellowfin tuna started biting better a couple of weeks ago and continue to provide good action in several areas. Striped marlin are biting well and have been providing the best action of the season for boats fishing areas below Catalina and San Clemente Islands.

The zone that is currently providing the good bluefin tuna fishing is the Desperation Reef area outside of China Point at San Clemente Island. This has been a productive area for a few weeks now and is still providing good fishing on bluefin that are in the 40- to 125-pound class. What has changed in recent days is that live squid has become the bait of choice and that those fishing with sardines and mackerel are finding the bite to have slowed.

Yellowfin tuna have been biting well and in recent days the action has been found over a wide area ranging from the region of the 181 Spot on down to the local banks outside of the Coronado Islands. It has been hit or miss in getting a good bait stop going but there have been some good bait stops to be found with some of the best bait stops lasting for hours. The best areas for the yellowfin have been while fishing around and about the 181 Spot, the 138 Spot, the 43 Fathom Spot, the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 425 Bank and the 9 Mile Bank. Most of the yellowfin action comes from stopping on spots of breaking or puddling fish, sonar marks or meter marks and baiting the fish with sardines, small poppers, Colt Snipers or Flat Falls. There have also been a few trolling strikes on yellowfin reported in recent days.

The Avalon Billfish Classic is underway and off to a fast start as this report is being prepared during the first day of the tournament. There is still a good amount of fishing time remaining in the day and there have been what I believe to be 14 marlin caught and released by boats fishing the tournament with additional fish hookup up as I am preparing this report.

The yellowtail fishing around the Coronado Islands is a bit of an unknown as most boats that would otherwise be fishing the Coronado Islands have been fishing offshore for yellowfin tuna. The last reports were of a few bonito and yellowtail biting along with some good numbers of rockfish. The best areas for a chance at some surface fishing action were the Flats, the Ribbon Kelp, the lee side of North Island and the weather side of North Island.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish and has also been providing occasional action on halibut, bonito and yellowtail.

The Imperial Beach area has been interesting lately with recent reports being of a mix of halibut, bass, rockfish, yellowtail and bonito biting. One of the better areas for all species has been drifting outside of the Imperial Beach Pier in 30 to 40 feet of water. Other productive kelp bed, hard bottom and structure spot areas from south to north have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, Sunset Cliffs, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the Barn, Box Canyon and San Onofre.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reports finding good calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas below Oceanside Harbor. Cacciola reported about a recent trip where they fished the kelp at Carlsbad and Leucadia while on an extended half day charter and found some fun fishing for calico bass, sculpin (sculpin are currently out of season and must be released), sheephead, whitefish and an assortment of rockfish.

The fall fishing season sometimes provides the best fishing of the year and as we approach this fall season, it looks like it might be another good one. 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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