SAN DIEGO—The summer offshore fishing season is starting to hit full stride with bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, Dorado and bonito biting offshore. Anglers have a lot of types of fishing to choose from with calico bass, barracuda, bonito, yellowtail and rockfish biting at the Coronado Islands and with calico bass, rockfish, sand bass and occasional flurry of barracuda or yellowtail action to be found along the San Diego County coast.
The offshore fishing is grabbing most of the headlines with catches of 25- to 200-plus-pound bluefin tuna leading the way and with a mix of yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, dorado and a few bonito biting as well. The yellowfin tuna have been running from 15 to 60 pounds, the yellowtail have been in the 10- to 20-pound range and the dorado and bonito have been in the 5- to 12-pound range.
Anglers wishing to target larger 80- to 200-plus-pound bluefin have been doing best while fishing areas up toward San Clemente Island such as the San Clemente Basin, the San Clemente Canyon, the 86 Fathom Spot, the 81 Fathom Spot, the 381 Spot, the 43 Fathom Spot and the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy. The current best bite area for the larger bluefin is the San Clemente Basin for boats fishing from 42 to 49 miles 252 to 257 degrees from Point Loma.
Anglers wanting to target more of a mixed bag of the 25- to 80-pound bluefin along with a mix of yellowfin, yellowtail, bonito and dorado have been doing well while fishing some of the offshore banks outside of the Coronado Islands such as the 371 Bank, the 230 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot and the area out to the west of North Island. Currently, the best zone for this mixed bag offshore fishing has you fishing between 20 and 30 miles 220 to 235 degrees from Point Loma.
More northern offshore waters in addition to the waters around San Clemente Island are starting to see improved offshore action. In recent days there was a report of good kelp paddie fishing for 12- to 20-pound yellowtail and 5- to 8-pound dorado in an area ranging from north of the 182 Spot to the area of the 178 Spot which is located above the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank. There was also a recent report of a Skipper fishing around the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank that caught an 80-pound bluefin and a 40-pound yellowfin. Another recent report was from a skipper who had caught an 85-pound bluefin while fishing up toward Catalina in the area to the west of the 181 Spot.
The larger sized bluefin tuna have been located by finding spots of breaking, breezing or foaming fish, meter marks, sonar marks and occasional trolling strikes. The big bluefin have bit well on kite fished drifted frozen flying fish, live mackerel and kite trolled Yummy Flyers with sardines, surface iron and Flat Fall jigs also producing some action.
The 25- to 80-pound bluefin and the yellowfin have been found by locating spots of breaking fish, meter marks, sonar marks, porpoise schools and trolling strikes. Once located, they have been biting on sardines, mackerel, surface iron, poppers, Colt Snipers and Flat Fall jigs. Fishing live baits deep with a rubber band attached torpedo sinker will sometimes produce action when flylined baits are not producing.
There has been an occasional marlin seen in the region of the 43 Fathom Spot and a marlin was hooked and lost a couple of days ago. The marlin hookup came incidental to fishing for bluefin tuna and was hooked on a flylined mackerel.
The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has not been receiving a lot of attention lately because of the good tuna fishing offshore. The few reports trickling in from the Coronados have been of good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, barracuda, calico bass, bonito and rockfish.
The most productive areas at Los Coronado Islands have been Pukey Point at North Island, the north end of South Island, the region of the tuna pens inside of South Island, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island, the South Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. Please keep in mind that when fishing around the tuna pens that Mexican law requires you to stay at least 250 meters away from commercial operations.
Private boater John Carroll of Huachinango is home recovering from surgery (please remember him in your prayers) but Carroll’s friend, Mark Scott took the Huachinango out and fished a recent trip around Los Coronado Islands. Carroll reported about the trip and said that Scott found very good mixed bag fishing for calico bass, barracuda, bonito and yellowtail.
Carroll reported that Scott started out the day fishing the Pukey Point area of North Island where there was 67.7-degree water and where there were some barracuda and calico bass biting on slow trolled sardines. They next tried the South Kelp Ridge where the water temperature was 69 degrees and where the slow trolled sardines produced good calico bass action. Their best action of the day was found while slow trolling sardines in 68.4-degree water at the north end of South Island. They were slow trolling in 40 to 50 feet of water, and they had wide open action on bonito, barracuda and calico bass along with boating one yellowtail out of three yellowtail hookups.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, barracuda, sand bass and rockfish along with an occasional bonus yellowtail, white seabass or halibut. Recent days have brought change though with the water temperatures falling into the low to middle 60’s at the Point Loma Kelp Beds and La Jolla. The water had been up over 70 degrees in those areas and the sudden drop in temperature slowed down what had been good fishing for calico bass along with an occasional flurry of yellowtail or barracuda action. With the slowdown in the calico bass fishing, some boats have turned to fishing hard bottom areas for rockfish until the water conditions stabilize and the kelp bed fishing rebounds.
Anglers are hopeful that the water in the Point Loma and La Jolla region will warm up again quickly. Prior to the sudden drop in water temperature, La Jolla had been providing the best chance at a yellowtail. The kelp beds at the lower end of La Jolla was an area where an occasional yellowtail was being caught while fishing a short way above the MLPA closure zone.
The calico bass fishing remains good in north San Diego County waters with kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach producing good action. The kelp beds outside of the Barn have also been producing good numbers of calico bass. The Box Canyon area has also been a productive zone for those targeting rockfish. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Starwith Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reported that they had been seeing a steady supply of 5.5- to 6-inch sardines in their bait supply which were working well for the calico bass. Cacciola’s report was that Hookup Baits plastics were also working well for both calico bass and sand bass.
The summer fishing season is progressing nicely, and anglers have a lot of fun fishing to choose from be it offshore, at the local Islands or along the coast. I hope and pray that you continue to stay healthy, safe and sound. 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.