Hot bites continue for bonito, calico bass, Dorado, marlin, tuna and yellowtail

SAN DIEGO — We are well into the fall and approaching the late part of the Southern California offshore fishing season. The great news is we are still seeing summertime like good bites continue for tuna, Dorado, yellowtail, marlin, bonito and calico bass. Water temperatures in many places remain in the 69.5 to 71 degree range and, for the moment, the warm water species appear to be content to remain in local waters.

Bluefin tuna have been the headline species this season and continue to bite out by San Clemente Island. The bluefin bite looked like it was fading away about a week ago but has since rallied and improved to be providing some pretty good action. The best area for a chance at one of the 100+ pound bluefin has been by the 86 Fathom Spot outside of China Point and there have been some 20- to 35-pound bluefin, along with some 20-pound class yellowtail biting at Desperation Reef and outside of Lost Point.

Bluefin tuna around San Clemente Island have been biting on kite trolled Yummy Flyers, sardines and Flat Fall jigs. Most of the action comes from working meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breezing fish. Porpoise schools found around San Clemente Island have been producing a few nice sized yellowfin tuna.

The Tanner Bank is producing good numbers of 20- to 30-pound yellowtails. Some boats have fished the Tanner Bank for the big yellows instead of chasing lesser numbers of bluefin at San Clemente Island.

Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported fishing a recent trip to the Tanner Bank and said the 3 anglers aboard caught 11 yellowtails, all more than 25 pounds. The big yellowtails were often hard to keep away from the rocks when hooked and Golding reported they also lost several hookups to fish that were able to make it to the rocks. Golding reported they were catching their fish on Sumo 6X yo-yo jigs and Dorado color patterns were getting bit the best. The best action was reported while fishing in 130 feet of water to the north of the high spot at the Tanner Bank.

The best of the yellowfin fishing has been in the San Diego region and below where there have been some limit yellowfin catches reported along with a mix of Dorado, yellowtail and skipjack. Productive areas have been the 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank, 425 Bank, 475 Knuckle, Upper Hidden Bank, 385 Spot, 400 Spot and 238 Spot. Kelp paddies, spots of breezing fish, trolling strikes, porpoise schools, meter marks and sonar marks have all been leading to yellowfin tuna action. Good jigs on the troll have been cedar plugs, feathers, Rapalas and Halcos. The yellowfin have been mostly 6- to 15-pound fish with occasional bigger fish to 60 pounds also caught. The bigger yellowfin tend to be hooked while fishing around porpoise.

Private boater, Capt. Bob Woodard Jr. of Dropback, was out fishing with Capt. Nico aboard his boat, Legasea. Woodard said they focused on marlin fishing and had no luck with the marlin but did find a wide open dorado bite on a kelp paddie while fishing 2.5 miles out to the west of the 224 Spot. Woodard said the Dorado were running from 10 to 14 pounds. After limiting out, they left the Dorado biting to continue looking for marlin. The hot Dorado paddie was found while fishing 25 miles 235 degrees from Point Loma.

Striped marlins have been biting best in the Catalina region and above. The past weekend saw what I estimate to be two or three marlins caught and released by boats fishing around the East End of Catalina in the area between the 125 Spot and 277 Spot. Better yet was the marlin fishing found above the West End of Catalina for boats working around the 125 Spot, 175 Spot and 172 Spot. My estimation is five or six marlins were caught and released by boats fishing these areas in mid-October.

The marlin fishing in the San Diego region has been scratchy with an occasional marlin encounter being reported incidental to fishing for tuna at spots such as the 425 Bank, 302 Spot, 371 Bank and 475 Knuckle.

The highlight fishing along the San Diego area coast has been for yellowtail and bonito, which have been biting well for boats fishing a short way above the Mexico border at the Imperial Beach Flats. Kelp paddies, trolling strikes, spots of breezing fish, sonar marks and meter marks have all been leading to action. Private boaters slow trolling sardines have also been doing well on bonito and yellowtail.

We are fast approaching the end of October and the weather and water temperatures have remained warm. The fall fishing season is proving to be a good one so far. Enjoy the good warm water fishing we are being blessed with before the conditions change and things cool down. 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 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

Legend Sportfishing photo

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