The first part of the 2016 Southern California offshore fishing season may not be providing huge fish counts but it sure has been providing some huge fish as the bite on big bluefin tuna continues on fish that have ranged in size to 270+ pounds. To compliment the bluefin tuna fishing there has been pretty good mixed bag fishing for yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail. Those looking for billfish on the offshore fishing grounds have seen an increase in striped marlin activity over the past couple of weeks with some good marlin fishing currently going on at the Osborn Bank.
The bluefin tuna have been ranging from 60 to 270+ pounds and the yellowfin tuna have been in the 15- to 80-pound range. The kelp paddie yellowtail have been running from 8 to 25 pounds and most of the dorado have been in the 8- to 15-pound class.
Productive areas for a mix of bluefin, yellowfin, dorado and yellowtail on the U.S. side of the Mexico border have been the 209 Spot, 181 Spot, 289 Spot, 182 Spot and 43 Fathom Spot. There have also been some spots of bluefin and yellowfin popping up from time to time for boats fishing 4 to 10 miles off the coast between Dana Point and Carlsbad.
The region of the 43 Fathom Spot has been providing the best opportunity at one of the jumbo sized 150+ pound bluefin. The bluefin around the 43 Fathom Spot have been biting around meter marks and spots of working birds or breaking fish and have been biting best on plastic Yummy Flyers that are trolled from a kite.
The bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna tend to be finicky biters but there are usually some biting fish to be found. Most of the tuna activity is coming from locating spots of breaking fish, foaming fish, pudding fish, breezing fish or meter marks. Once an area of tuna has been located, anglers have seen success while baiting them with sardines, mackerel, yo-yo iron, surface iron, poppers or the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. The Flat Fall, Colt Sniper, Tady 45, Salas 7X light, JRI 2 jigs have been productive for those using iron.
Private boater Capt. Maurice Smith,Rob Epsten and Jon Epsten of Dos Hermanos fished a recent trip to the 43 Fathom Spot. Smith reported kite trolling with Yummy Flyers and catching three bluefin tuna. These were jumbo sized bluefin weighed in at 155, 165 and 220 pounds.
The best marlin bite area is in the region of the Osborn Bank by Santa Barbara Island where I would estimate there were 8 or so marlin caught and released over the past weekend. Action was found in a variety of ways with, blind jig strikes and baiting tailers and feeders with mackerel producing action. There has been a lot of bait around the Osborn Bank and the best marlin activity is found while fishing around the schools of bait.
Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing highlighted the most recent fish counts from Los Coronado Islands. A recent three-quarter-day trip with 32 anglers yielded 56 yellowtail and 25 bonito. Point Loma Sportfishing had a three-quarter-day trip aboard Mission Belle with 22 anglers catch 27 bonito, 39 yellowtail, one barracuda, seven calico bass and one lingcod. H&M Landing had a three-quarter-day trip on Malihini with 26 anglers catch 112 rockfish, 16 calico bass, 40 bonito, four barracuda and 33 yellowtail.
The Rockpile is the current hot spot for the yellowtail and most of the fishing on the sportboats is being done while sitting on the anchor. Private boaters have also done well while sitting on the anchor and have also seen action while drifting or slow trolling with sardines. The recent catches of yellowtail have been mostly 12- to 15-pound fish and have been biting on sardines and iron.
In addition to the Rockpile other productive areas around the Islands have been the South Kelp Ridge, the South Kelp, the Ribbon Kelp, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the weather side of North Island. The past few days have also seen some good numbers of bonito biting for boats fishing the outside edge of the middle part of the 9 Mile Bank.
The fishing along the San Diego County Coast has provided good fishing for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, bonito, barracuda and yellowtail along with an occasional white seabass. Productive kelp bed areas are at Imperial Beach, Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, Yellowtail Kelp, the Barn and San Onofre.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reports he has been finding very good calico bass fishing at kelp bed areas such as the Barn, Yellowtail Kelp, Carlsbad, Leucadia and Solana Beach. Cacciola reported 5- to 6-inch sardines have been great bait for the calicos. He said they also did well while using Berkley Gulp plastics rigged with a 3/8-ounce dart head.
Private boater Mike Mason of Lindsay Ann reported a recent trip to the upper end of La Jolla to try and catch some mackerel to use for tuna bait. He said the mackerel fishing was slow but found excellent calico bass fishing. Mason said the three anglers aboard caught and released 40 calico bass in about two hours of fishing. All their fish were caught on plastics while fishing at the northwest corner of La Jolla in 50 to 70 feet of water.
There is also some excellent fishing to report out at Catalina Island. Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about a recent trip where they fished spots along the back side of Catalina Island. He reported excellent fishing and said they caught and released 200+ calico bass and caught 10 yellowtail from 4 to 12 pounds. The highlight fish of the trip was a true lunker-sized 10+ pound calico bass (caught and released).
The summer months are providing some great fishing. I hope you get a chance to get out fishing and get in on the action sometime soon. 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.