Southern California anglers have had a lot to choose from this spring with bluefin tuna biting offshore and yellowtail, calico bass, barracuda, rockfish, sculpin, halibut and sand bass yanking lines at spots along the coast and at some of the local islands. The fishing continues to improve in significant ways with the latest upswing being for nice sized white sea bass biting in better numbers at Catalina Island. The already good springtime fishing has got even better and the action should just continue to improve as the spring season transitions into summer.
Bluefin tuna counts have been up and down but there are bites most every day. The current best bite area has been for boats fishing within 45 miles or so of Point Loma in the region between the 390 Bank and the Butterfly Bank.
When you find a spot of cooperative bluefin there is a nice payoff, as most of the catches have been in the 50- to 80-pound class. Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing had a 1.5-day trip on May 14 with 33 anglers catch 15 bluefin tuna. New Lo Ann out of Point Loma Sportfishing also fished that same day and had 22 anglers catch eight bluefin tuna.
The yellowtail fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been very good some days and fair to pretty good action on others. The nice thing about the fishing around Los Coronado Islands is when the yellows are off their good bite mode there have been barracuda, bonito and rockfish biting to pick up the slack.
The surface fishing along the San Diego County coast has been picking up in recent days and anglers fishing hard bottom, structure and kelp bed areas are finding a mix of yellowtail, calico bass, sand bass, barracuda, rockfish, sculpin and halibut biting. What has been changing for the better with the fishing along the coast is that calico bass, barracuda and yellowtail are becoming more active at some of the kelp bed areas.
The better kelp bed areas for the surface fishing along the San Diego County coast have been the kelp at Point Loma, Sunset Cliffs, Mission Bay, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia and the Barn. The best place to try and scratch out a yellowtail remains the upper end of La Jolla but there is also increasing yellowtail activity being reported from the kelp bed areas off Point Loma, Mission Bay, Del Mar and Leucadia. The best recent yellowtail report from the fishing along the coast was from a private boat Skipper who reported finding an area of puddling yellowtail while fishing the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay. He reported catching seven quality-sized yellowtail from the spots of puddling fish.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reported fishing the kelp beds at Leucadia on May 14 and finding very good fishing for calico bass and sand bass along with a couple of nice sized sheephead. Cacciola said they also experienced some additional excitement when they hooked and lost a large yellowtail.
Cacciola had a group of anglers from out of state release all their fish. He said the bass were biting wide open on the perfectly sized 4- to 4.5-inch anchovies that made up the bulk of their bait supply. Berkley Gulp baits in the sardine color were also reported to be working very well for both sand bass and calico bass.
The fishing at San Clemente Island has been producing a nice mix of yellowtail, calico bass and bonito along with an occasional white seabass. Try the ridges outside of Pyramid Cove and China Point for the best chance at one of the large 15- to 25-pound yellows in the early morning hours.
During the afternoon hours the best action has been fishing for what have mostly been 5- to 10-pound yellowtail along with a mix of calico bass and bonito found along the front side of the Island between White Rock and Purse Seine Rock. Some of the action has come while anchored up and fishing the structure of Purse Seine Rock and White Rock and some has come from open water while working around and between those two spots looking for schools of breaking fish, sonar marks or meter marks to drift on and work with live bait or iron.
Live squid has been the best bait for yellowtail and seabass at San Clemente Island and a lot of the squid is being imported from Catalina. Also look for a chance at finding some squid at night in Pyramid Cove.
Catalina Island has seen a better volume of squid arrive in recent days and white sea bass have since become active and have been biting on the live squid. There has also been a chance at picking up a few yellowtail at Catalina as well. The best zone for the sea bass has been while fishing the backside of the island at spots between Ben Weston and Sentinel Rock. If you get on the right spot at the right time limits of white sea bass have been a possibility.
Squid boats have been offering live squid for sale to private boaters. In recent days the squid boat Long Beach Carnage has spent time anchored off Avalon offering squid for sale. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 11 or 72 to see about the possibility of purchasing live squid at Catalina.
The 2016 fishing season keeps emerging as we head toward the summer months. It is exciting to see the season continue to unfold and develop. 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.