SAN DIEGO—We are well into the 2020 fall fishing season and Southern California ocean anglers have been enjoying a good start to the fall season. On the offshore fishing grounds there are bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, skipjack, dorado, yellowtail, striped marlin and swordfish biting. At the Coronado Islands there are big bonito, calico bass, rockfish and a few yellowtail biting. Anglers fishing along the San Diego County coast have been having fun catching mixed size bonito, calico bass, sculpin, rockfish, whitefish and an occasional yellowtail.
Bluefin tuna continue to highlight the offshore fishing and have been providing the possibility of hooking jumbo sized bluefin that are up in the 300-pound class. Most of the bluefin are currently in the 25- to 60-pound range but the jumbo-sized fish are still in the mix. The current hot spot is in the region of the deep water inside of the Tanner Bank with boats catching fish by drifting on meter marks and sonar marks that are being found in an area ranging from the deep water to the northeast of the high spot on up to the deep water to northwest of the high spot.
The bigger sized bluefin have been biting best on kite fished frozen flying fish with sardines, small mackerel and Flat Fall jigs working well for the “smaller” bluefin that are in the 15- to 80-pound range. Bluefin are being located by finding meter marks, sonar marks, spots of breezing fish, spots of breaking fish and the occasional trolling strike on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. Some of the better sportboat catches for boats fishing the region of the Tanner Bank have included limits of bluefin tuna.
In more local offshore waters, there has been a mix of yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack and yellowtail biting for boats fishing areas ranging from the 289 Spot that is located inside of San Clemente Island on down to the waters outside of Ensenada. Boats on multi-day trips have also been finding these species biting further down the line in an area ranging from the waters from below the 1140 Finger on down to the offshore waters below Punta Colnett while fishing outside of the Squiggles and outside of the Boot.
Specific productive areas for the mix of yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail and skipjack have been in the region of the 289 Spot, the 138 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 43 Fathom Spot, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy, the 371 Bank, the 425 Bank, the Upper Hidden Bank, the 475 Knuckle, the 450 Spot, the Peanut Bank, the 1140 Finger and the waters below and outside of Punta Colnett while fishing the region of the Squiggles and outside of the Boot.
The yellowfin bite has ranged between 12 and 20 pounds, with a few 40- to 60-pound bites in the mix. The Dorado have been running from 5 to 15 pounds and most of the yellowtail have been in the 5- to 12-pound range. Kelp paddies have been providing most of the fish with trolling strikes, porpoise schools, sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breezing fish also producing.
Kevin Smith of Rampage Sportfishing and Relentless reported about a recent trip where he started the day out by the Corner and the San Salvador Knoll and found nothing but empty kelp paddies in those areas. Smith then came in to the area of the 371 Bank where he found some kelp paddies that were producing a mix of yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail while fishing at 30 miles 214 degrees from Point Loma. None of the paddies produced a wide open bite but they were able to pick a few mixed fish from each of the paddies they found that were holding fish.
Marlin fishing has been producing some excitement most every day. Spots around the eastern part of Catalina have been productive such as the 152 Spot, Church Rock and the Avalon Bank. One Skipper who has been fishing the Catalina area in recent days summed it up by saying that it seems like a marlin is being caught and released in the Catalina region most every day.
There has been improved marlin activity in areas other than spots around the eastern part of Catalina with the region of the 209 Spot and 289 Spot providing occasional marlin encounters. In the San Diego region, there has been recent marlin activity reported by boats fishing the 182 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, the Coronado Canyon and the area out to the west of North Island.
Capt. Bob Woodard, Jr,. of Dropback reported fishing with his friend Jake aboard Jake’s new boat Pilar. Woodard reported that they were able to catch and release a marlin while fishing at the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank. It was a special catch and release as Jake was the angler and it was the first marlin caught and released aboard Jake’s new boat. The fish was a jig fish that came up on a jig, left the jig to chase a mackerel and then went back to the original jig and bit the jig. What excitement! Congratulations!
Deep drop fishing for swordfish continues to produce an occasional hookup for boats fishing around the 9 Mile Bank and by boats fishing the Catalina area at spots around the East End such as the 125 Spot, 152 Spot and spots outside of Avalon. There is also an occasional swordfish bite reported on the drop-off shelf outside of Newport Beach.
The few reports coming from Los Coronado Islands have been of very good fishing for big bonito. There have also been some calico bass and good numbers of rockfish biting to go with a chance at a yellowtail. The Middle Grounds and the weather side of North Island have been the best areas for the bonito and have also been providing a chance at a yellowtail. A few calico bass have been biting at the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island and at the kelp bed areas around South Island. Slow trolled sardines have been a good method for private boaters for bonito and the slow trolling has also produced an occasional yellowtail.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for bonito, calico bass, rockfish and sculpin along with an occasional yellowtail. Bonito have been in the 2- to 8-pound range and have been biting in several areas. Productive bonito bite zones have been between the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and the Mexico border, the Point Loma Lighthouse, the Green Tank, the upper end of La Jolla and the kelp beds off Solana Beach, Leucadia and Carlsbad.
Some of the bonito have been biting while fishing along the edges of the kelp beds but most of the bonito have been biting from trolling around looking for trolling strikes, meter marks, sonar marks and spots of breezing fish to stop on and fish with sardines and small chrome jigs.
The best chance at yellowtail has been while fishing off the upper end of La Jolla and off the stretch between Sunset Cliffs and the Yukon shipwreck outside of Mission Beach. There have also been a few yellowtail in the mix for boats fishing the bonito area between the Point Loma Lighthouse and the Mexico border.
Calico bass have been biting at kelp bed areas such as the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at 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 that there has been good fishing for rockfish for boats fishing off Box Canyon, Carlsbad, Leucadia, Solana Beach and Del Mar. Cacciola reports that the bulk of their bottom fish catches have been made up of a mix of reds, salmon grouper and whitefish and that they have been fishing in 200 to 350 feet of water.
Cacciola reports that the calico bass are still active at kelp bed areas off Carlsbad, Leucadia and Solana Beach. The water temperature remains warm and has been ranging between 68 and 72 degrees. In addition to the calico bass, the kelp beds have been producing some sheephead, whitefish, sculpin, rockfish and a few 2- to 3-pound bonito. In addition to the bonito biting along the edges of the kelp beds Cacciola reports there have been a few of the larger 8-pound bonito biting on trolled feathers outside of the kelp bed areas. Best color feathers for the bonito have been pink and white as well as red and white.
The fall fishing season can provide some of the best fishing of the year as the warm water fish tend to bunch up and go on feeding frenzies as the water begins to cool. It is usually a mistake to put away your fishing gear at this time of year. 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.