SAN DIEGO—The 2020 offshore fishing season continues to be a good one with many fine species of fish to target in a day of fishing. Those wishing to go after jumbo sized bluefin tuna to 300-plus pounds have been heading out to fish off the back side of San Clemente Island and off the West End of San Clemente Island where the bite on 40- to 300-plus-pound bluefin continues to impress. Those wishing to target more of a mixed bag of yellowfin, Dorado and yellowtail have been doing well while working some of the offshore banks ranging from below and outside of Los Coronado Islands on down to the offshore banks outside of Ensenada. The list of fine options for offshore fishing continues with improving fishing for striped marlin and even a few blue marlins being found in waters ranging from the back side of Santa Cruz Island on down to the offshore banks below and outside of Los Coronado Islands. All I can say is, wow!
The fishing for the jumbo sized bluefin to 300-plus pounds continues to grab the spotlight. The waters around San Clemente Island continue to be the best for the bluefin with the area to the west and the northwest of the West End, the 381 Spot and the 267 Spot located easterly of the Tanner Bank providing the best bluefin fishing. In addition to those areas, there have also been bluefin biting in the area to the southwest of West Cove, to the southwest of the 57 Fathom Spot and the to the south of the 86 Fathom Spot. Sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breaking fish have led to most of the bluefin bites. Kite fished previously frozen flying fish continue to work best for bait with kite trolled Yummy Flyers, flylined live sardines and flylined live mackerel also getting results.
The fishing for a mixed bag of 8- to 15-pound yellowfin, 5- to 12-pound dorado and 4- to 12-pound yellowtail has been good to very good for boats fishing local banks below and outside of Los Coronado Islands. The fishing over the past couple of days has slowed down a bit but Skippers are hopeful that the past two days have just been a couple of down days and that the hot bite fishing will soon return.
Productive areas for the yellowfin, dorado and yellowtail have ranged from 20 to 50-plus miles from Point Loma for boats fishing around banks such as the 302 Spot, the 425 Bank, the 371 Bank, the 475 Knuckle, the Upper Hidden Bank, the Lower Hidden Bank, the 385 Spot and the 480 Spot. Kelp paddies, trolling strikes and stopping on spots of breezing fish have led to most of the action with live sardines working best for bait.
Striped marlin action has been improving and recent days have provided good marlin fishing. In addition to the striped marlin activity, there were also two recent 300-plus pound blue marlin hookups that were lost. Additionally, this morning a Skipper that was fishing for bluefin tuna out by the 381 Spot off the back side of San Clemente Island reported hooking and catching a blue marlin that he estimates to weigh 180 pounds.
The Balboa Angling Club’s Master Angler Billfish Tournament was held on Sept. 11 and 12 and there were 42 boats fishing in the event. My unofficial tally: there were 47 marlin hookups during the two days of fishing, with 20 qualifying marlins released. In addition to the qualifying releases, there were three disqualified marlin releases and a mix of bluefin, Dorado and yellowtail caught by tournament boats.
A few areas have produced a high percentage of the recent marlin action. Some of the best areas during the recent Master Angler Billfish Tournament were the back side of Santa Cruz Island, the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina, the 277 Spot off the East End of Catalina, the 181 Spot, the 138 Spot, the 312 Spot and the area 12 to 22 miles west of La Jolla. Other areas that have also produced recent bites from striped marlin have been the La Jolla Canyon, the 425 Bank, the 267 Spot off Dana Point, the Slide, the Avalon Bank and the area of the 125 Spot off the East End of Catalina. One of the recent lost blue marlin hookups was found by a boat fishing 22 miles west of La Jolla and the other was found by a boat fishing the Ridge by the 182 Spot.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has not been sampled much because of the good offshore tuna fishing that has been available nearby. The few reports from Los Coronado Islands have been of pretty good to good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, bonito and calico bass. Areas that have provided recent yellowtail catches have been the Keyhole at the south tip of North Island, Pukey Point at North Island, the Middle Grounds and the north end of South Island. These areas have also been providing some pretty good to sometimes good fishing for bonito and calico bass. Kelp paddies found within 3 miles to the northwest, west, southwest and south of North Island have also produced some yellowtail. There have been some bonito biting out in the 40 fathom depths for boats fishing off the weather side of North Island.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, bonito and an assortment of rockfish. Kelp bed areas have been producing calico bass and bonito and the bonito are also being caught from trolling strikes and baitfish being found outside of the kelp beds while fishing in the 18 to 50 fathom depths.
One of the best coastal bonito bite areas has been in the Point Loma and Imperial Beach regions for boats fishing from the Mexican border on up to the waters off the Green Tank at Point Loma. Trolling strikes and spots of breezing fish lead to a lot of the bonito catches with bonito being caught on sardines and small chrome jigs after getting a trolling strike or stopping alongside of a spot of breezing fish.
Some of the better San Diego County kelp bed areas for calico bass include the Point Loma Lighthouse, the Lab, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, the Roundhouse, the upper end of La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad and the Barn. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports they have done well on calico bass in the kelp beds while using live sardines, sardine chunks, green Wham plastics and anchovy color Hookup Bait plastics.
The summer fishing season will soon be coming to an end as the calendar turns Sept. 22. The great news is with all the fish we have around right now, one has reason to be optimistic about the prospects that the fine summer season will roll right into an outstanding fall fishing season. Take your pick of what you would like to target and go fishing! Keep on fishing and I hope to see you out on the water sometime soon!
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.