Covid-19 crisis keeping most anglers ashore

As this report is being written, a lot of Southern California saltwater anglers have been forced to stay ashore due to regulations in place to help slow and protect against the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. I am sure the stories are the same or very similar in other coastal areas, but I will use my home area of San Diego County as an example of the type of things that have been going on. First and foremost is that all sportfishing landings have temporarily ceased operations and stopped running trips. Emergency regulations have also effected private boaters who are also seeing measures being enacted that are keeping a lot of them off the water as well.

The restrictions can change rapidly but at the time of this writing the situation in San Diego County harbors is that launch ramps and their parking areas are closed at Oceanside Harbor, Mission Bay and San Diego Bay. If you have a boat at a marina in Oceanside Harbor or San Diego Bay you can use your boat and take it out fishing.  If you are at a dock in Mission Bay you cannot take your boat out fishing as the entirety of the harbor is currently closed to boating.  I suggest you contact the Harbor Police in San Diego Bay, the Harbor Police in Oceanside and the Mission Bay Lifeguard Patrol in Mission Bay to get the very latest information before you plan on using your private boat.

With a lot of boats off the water and very few people out fishing, fish reports have been hard to come by but there have been a few private boaters venturing out and doing some fishing. Prior to the sportboats being kept from running trips there were good numbers of 40 to 120 pound bluefin tuna biting for boats fishing the offshore waters outside of Punta Colnett. There have also been good numbers of bluefin showing in waters within 30 miles or so of Point Loma but those fish have not been biting as well as the fish that were biting off Punta Colnett.

The past weekend saw a few private boaters out doing some offshore fishing and a couple of Skippers reported seeing bluefin below Los Coronado Islands in the region of the 425 Bank. There were also a couple of reports about bluefin showing in an area ranging from the area outside of the middle part of the 9 Mile Bank on out to the area to the north of the 224 Spot at the upper end of the Kidney Bank. Good news is that there were a few biting bluefin to be found in these more local offshore areas over the past weekend. Slow trolled sardines and slow trolled mackerel were working well when trolled around the groups of breaking bluefin. Poppers, Flat Fall jigs, Colt Snipers, surface iron, flylined mackerel and flylined sardines have also produced some bluefin action.

Most of the rest of the recent fish reports have been from private boaters looking for yellowtail around La Jolla and that have been trying for halibut off Imperial Beach. The yellowtail fishing at La Jolla sounded pretty slow over the past weekend but there were some good numbers of rockfish biting.

The halibut fishing was reported to be on the quiet side of things over the weekend but one of the Skippers who was reporting had found good halibut fishing in the area earlier in the week. Best bet has been to drift sardines in about 50 feet of water in the area outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

Skippers fishing hard bottom areas into the north and the northwest of North Island continue to find good fishing for an assortment of rockfish. A good depth range continues to be in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. The lower end of the 9 Mile Bank has also been productive for rockfish while fishing in the 60 to 80 fathom depths while on the Mexico side of the border.

These are the recent reports that I have been able to gather from the very few private boats that have been going out fishing. I almost always encourage people to go fishing but I do not want these reports to encourage anyone to take their boat out and go fishing in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. My feeling is that on many private boats it would be very difficult to adhere to the “social distance” guidelines of keeping 6 feet away from other people.

I am blessed to have a home-office and have been staying home as much as possible and have not left home in 12 days. I encourage you to stay home as much as your situation allows and to err on the side of caution in your decision making. Be safe, stay healthy and I hope to see you back out on the water when the Covid-19 crisis is over.  I pray that is very 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 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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