SAN DIEGO—The fall fishing season is well underway and the month of October has been very good so far with bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna continuing to provide offshore action. The jumbo sized bluefin bite out by San Clemente Island faded for a couple of weeks following a three day stretch of bad weather but the past weekend saw jumbo bluefin relocated off the back side of San Clemente Island with fish to 250-plus pounds being reported caught by boats fishing the region of Desperation Reef and the 81 Fathom Spot. The bluefin were being located by finding meter marks and they were biting on kite and helium balloon fished flying fish and on kite trolled Yummy Flyers.
There have also been some of the 40- to 100-pound sized bluefin biting in other areas. The region of the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina has been producing an occasional bluefin for boats that are drifting while they are deep drop fishing for swordfish. A technique that has been producing an occasional bluefin while deep drop fishing for swordfish has been to drift with a mackerel up near the surface that is attached to a balloon.
There have also been some good bait stops on 40 to 100 pound bluefin reported by San Diego area boats that are fishing the region ranging from the deep water out to the southwest of the 224 Spot on out to the area inside of the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy. Recent days have seen bluefin biting in an area ranging from 30 to 38 miles 235 to 242 degrees from Point Loma. Most of the stops in this zone have been coming from stopping on sonar marks and the bluefin have been biting on sardines and Flat Fall jigs.
Yellowfin tuna fishing has been very good for boats fishing some of the local offshore banks below and outside of the Coronado Islands. The best zone for the yellowfin has been in the area of the 371 Bank and the nearby 425 Bank. The fishing in these areas has been producing near limit to limit action on the better days but the bite in this sector has slipped a bit over the past couple of days. What some Skippers have been doing is to fish for the yellowfin around the 371 Bank and the 425 Bank in the morning hours and then work out to try for bluefin in the area talked about in the paragraph above that is 30 to 38 miles 235 to 242 degrees from Point Loma.
The yellowfin have been ranging from 12 to 40 pounds with most falling within the 18 to 30 pound range. Yellowfin stops have been coming from meter marks, sonar marks, skipjack trolling strikes, kelp paddies, spots of breezing fish and the occasional yellowfin trolling strike. Sardines have been working best for the yellowfin and it has been a good idea to be prepared to fish with light line and small hooks if the fish are touchy. In situations when the yellowfin are touchy, good choices would be using 15 or 20 pound test fluorocarbon leaders with a size 4 live bait hook.
Private boater Tom Parnakian of Ambush reported about fishing a recent trip on Pacifica out of Seaforth Sportfishing. Parnakian called it very good yellowfin tuna fishing and the fish count for the trip was 22 anglers on an overnight trip catching limits of 110 yellowfin , 36 skipjack and two bluefin tuna. Parnakian said they had a few of the smaller 10- to 12-pound yellowfin in the catch but most of the yellowfin were nicer sized fish that were up around 20 pounds.
Parnakian said that the yellowfin were biting well on sardines and that the crew aboard Pacifica suggested using 20-pound test line and size #4 hooks for fishing the sardines. Parnakian caught all his yellowfin on sardines using the suggested tackle arrangement except for one of his yellowfin, which he caught on a Flat Fall jig that was fished with 40-pound test line. Their best yellowfin bait stop came from stopping on a sonar mark and he said they had caught their limits of yellowfin by 9:30 AM. The rest of the day was spent looking for bluefin and he said they stopped on some sonar marks and were able to catch two of the 40-pound class bluefin on Flat Fall jigs.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck fished a recent trip to the region of the 425 Bank and the 371 Bank and reported the three aboard caught 9 yellowfin and 1 skipjack. He said they had three stops, each producing three yellowfin, with the last stop also producing a skipjack. They found their yellowfin action while fishing between 23 and 26 miles 189 to 205 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Robert Serdoz of Lucky Charm reported fishing solo on a recent trip to the 371 Bank. It was Serdoz fishing with his dog and he said they found very good yellowfin tuna fishing. Serdoz reported finding “one stop shopping” on the yellowfin and limited out on what were 25-pound average fish with a big fish of 30 pounds.
Serdoz got his good bait stop by setting up a drift in an area where he found three private boaters drifting and catching fish. He said that he set up his drift so as to not disturb the fishing for the boats that were already stopped. When he threw a bit of chum the tuna came up to the boat and stayed with him until he limited out.
Serdoz described it as a “steady pick” kind of a bite where the fish would come and go. Throwing some extra chum was usually all it took to get the yellowfin going again. He was using 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader and a size #4 light weight circle hook to provide enough stealth to get bites. Serdoz had his limits of yellowfin aboard by 11:00 AM and the action was found in 69-degree water while fishing to the north-northeast of the 371 Bank at 22 miles 203 degrees from Point Loma.
In addition to the fishing for yellowfin around the 371 Bank and 425 Bank there have also been some late afternoon showings of yellowfin outside of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank. These fish are sometimes hard to get to bite but there have been a few troll fish caught and few fish caught on poppers from this zone. The past couple of days have also seen spots of breaking yellowfin showing in the area ranging between San Onofre to Oceanside for boats fishing 12 to 16 miles off the coast. The usual report from boats working the fish in this sector is that it has been tough to get them to bite.
Marlin fishing has been slow but there have been a few marlin around in the Catalina region. Recent days have seen an occasional marlin seen off Empire Landing, Long Point, Avalon, the Can Dump and Orange Rocks but I do not know of any that have been caught in recent days. The marlin fishing in the San Diego region remains slow but this morning there was a report about a marlin being hooked and lost within the tuna fleet that was fishing by the 371 Bank.
A lot of boats that might otherwise be fishing for marlin have been deep drop fishing for swordfish. When there are a good number of boats out giving it a try, it seems like there is a swordfish or two caught most every day by boats fishing areas ranging from the eastern part of Catalina on down to San Diego.
Most anglers have been fishing their baits between 900 and 1,100 feet below the surface over bottom depths ranging from 160 to 230 fathoms at areas such as the 152 Spot, the Slide, the Can Dump, Avalon, the 178 Spot and the dropoff at the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank.
There has not been much news coming from Los Coronado Islands lately with most boats fishing the good tuna bite offshore. What has been reported is that there has been good fishing for an assortment of bottom fish but that the surface fishing has been slow. Productive areas for an assortment of rockfish have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north, the northwest and the northeast of North Island while fishing in 20 to 45 fathoms of water. Malihini out of H&M Landing fished a recent trip to Los Coronado Islands and found good fishing for an assortment of bottom fish and had a fish count of 34 anglers on a full day trip catching 135 rockfish, 75 reds and 65 whitefish.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, reds, rockfish, whitefish and sculpin and there has also been a chance at catching a bonus lingcod, halibut or yellowtail.
The best zones for a chance at scratching out a yellowtail have been at the upper end of La Jolla and off the stretch between Point Loma College and Sunset Cliffs. The yellowtail fishing has been slow but there have been occasional spots of yellowtail found in these areas.
Calico bass continue to provide some surface fishing action in kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast but the majority of the sportboat trips fishing along the coast have been focusing more and more on fishing hard bottom areas for rockfish. Most of the calicos are undersized fish that must be released but there are usually occasional keeper sized fish in the mix. Some of the more productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Solana Beach and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon.
In addition to the kelp bed areas, hard bottom and structure spots have also been producing some bass and sculpin with productive places being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom spots between the Imperial Beach Pipeline and the Mexico border, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.
Rockfish are a significant part of the coastal fishing picture with a lot of the half-day and three-quarter-day coastal sportboat trips now focusing on rockfish. Recent reports of good rockfish catches have come from hard bottom areas such as the International Reef above the Mexico border, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that most of the recent trips on the Oceanside Sea Canter boats have been fishing for rockfish and says there have been good numbers of rockfish biting at hard bottom spots in 200 to 350 feet of water while fishing areas such as Box Canyon, Ponto Beach, Leucadia, Solana Beach and the upper part of Del Mar.
Cacciola reports finding good fishing for a mix of reds, whitefish, salmon grouper and assorted rockfish and reports that the salmon grouper have been biting best on sardines and that the reds, whitefish and other assorted rockfish have been biting best on strips of frozen squid. On a recent trip targeting rockfish, Sea Star had 9 anglers on a three-quarter day trip catch 60 reds, 10 salmon grouper, 20 whitefish and 15 rockfish.
The fall fishing season is in full swing and the month of October is providing some of the best tuna fishing of the season. Who knows how good it might get if the tuna group up and go on a feeding spree ahead of migrating to warmer waters for the winter months. 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 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.