The amazing run of hefty tuna continues off the Southern California coast as bluefin tuna to 270+ pounds and yellowfin tuna to 110+ pounds have been biting in local offshore waters. It is the best year for big local tuna that I can recall. Boats fishing around the 43 Fathom Spot, San Clemente Island, the Mackerel Bank and Osborn Bank currently have a chance at catching the tuna of a lifetime.
There have also been some dorado and yellowtail in the mix to compliment the fishing for bluefin and yellowfin. Those looking for striped marlin on the offshore fishing grounds have been finding their best success while fishing banks in the Santa Barbara Island region such as the Osborn Bank and 17 Fathom Spot.
The best tuna bite area has been the 43 Fathom Spot. This zone provides a good chance at being able to find action on both the larger sized bluefin and the larger sized yellowfin. The pattern of the fishing out by the 43 Fathom Spot has been to either troll with kite trolled Yummy Flyers or to drift and fish with kite flown, flylined and weighted sardines and mackerel. The kite trolled Yummy Flyers are the best for targeting the jumbo sized bluefin and the drifting with live bait technique has been best for a mix of yellowfin and the 60- to 125-pound bluefin.
Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever reported about fishing a recent three-day trip where they spent the first day drifting around the 43 Fathom Spot for big bluefin and yellowfin. It was pretty much of a down day in this zone and they had no luck. On day two of the trip, Bowers came in toward Los Coronado Islands to fish yellowfin tuna around the 302 Spot and reported catching four of the 10- to 20-pound yellowfin tuna from spots of breaking fish. Bowers said they stopped next to spots of breaking fish throughout the trip but it was not easy to get the tuna to come off their natural feed and bite on their baits and iron.
Bowers topped off the trip in style on day three when he went back out to the 43 Fathom Spot and caught three bluefin tuna and two yellowfin tuna. Their three bluefin and one of their yellowfin were each up around the 75-pound mark and one of their yellowfin was a 65-pound fish. They caught all their fish on sardines while in a drift that started in the grey light of early morning a short way outside of the 43 Fathom Spot. Bowers said it took about 40 minutes for fish to start gathering around the boat and said that the fish stayed with the boat during their entire drift. There were still fish around the boat when they started the engines and left for home in the middle of the afternoon.
Capt. Bob Woodard Jr. of Pelagic Magic reported fishing a recent trip to the 43 Fathom Spot and catching two bluefin tuna weighing 143 and 158 pounds. Each of those fish bit on a Yummy Flyer that was trolled from a kite.
Catalina Island is starting to see some more marlin activity. There has been some marlin action around the 125 Spot off the West End of Catalina and a boat recently caught and released two marlin from baited tailers found off the Slide.
As an example of the recent fishing, the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing had a three-quarter day trip with 40 anglers catch 21 yellowtail, 83 bonito and 35 calico bass. Point Loma Sportfishing had a three-quarter-day trip aboard the Mission Belle with 37 anglers catch 33 yellowtail, 17 bonito and 12 barracuda. H&M Landing had a three-quarter day trip aboard the Malihini with 51 anglers catching 52 rockfish, 38 bonito, 36 barracuda and 13 yellowtail.
Capt. Billy of the private boat Efishnsea and the six-pack charter yacht Tailblazen fished a recent trip aboard Pronto with Chubasco 2 Sportfishing and reported about the trip. Billy also works with the Fred Hall Shows and said it was a private charter type of trip where they had people from the Fred Hall Shows aboard to go fishing and celebrate the birthday of Mike Lum of the Fred Hall Shows.
A recent 5- to 10-degree drop in the water temperature has affected the fishing along the San Diego County coast. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reported when the water temperature dropped they were fishing in 66- to 68-degree water. Those areas had been 77-degree water one week earlier. The good news is the water is starting to warm again and the surface fishing is starting to rally with the warming water.
The surface fishing at kelp bed areas along the coast has been offering some pretty good action for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sheephead and assorted rockfish to go with a few bonito, and an occasional yellowtail, white seabass or barracuda. Some boats have been targeting rockfish when the kelp bed fishing for the calico bass and other species has been tough. The surface fishing at the kelp beds has been improving each day and as I was preparing this report.
The summer months have been providing some great fishing and as we get into the late summer and fall seasons, some of the finicky biting tune could change their habits and start biting much better. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water 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.