By: Bob Vanian
It would be a big mistake to put away the fishing gear for the season based on the calendar alone. Anglers who are continuing to fish this fall are being rewarded with some excellent opportunities to catch dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna.
The first northern weather system brought wind and rain to Southern California about 10 days ago, and the offshore fishing took a hit. It looked to be slowing down with a cooling of the water temperatures.
However, what followed the storm was more than a week of beautiful sunny, warm fall weather conditions. The result of the recent nice weather has been that the water temperatures have stabilized — and the offshore bite has rallied.
There are a couple of areas within 75 miles or so of Point Loma that are still producing a few tuna and yellowtail, but the better fishing has been found by boats fishing offshore waters between 75 and 135 miles from Point Loma. The more local areas that are still producing a few tuna and yellowtail include the area between the 371 Bank and the trench above the 390 Bank, for boats working 30 to 45 miles from Point Loma; and the region below and outside of the 295 Bank, for boats fishing 70 to 75 miles, 180 to 185 degrees from Point Loma.
The better action has been found in three primary areas. The region of the Sausage/Peanut Bank is producing good numbers of bluefin tuna and yellowtail for boats fishing between 75 and 90 miles, 153 to 155 degrees from Point Loma. Another productive zone that is producing yellowfin tuna and a lot of yellowtail is outside of Punta Colnett — between 95 and 105 miles, 172 to 174 degrees from Point Loma.
The best area for yellowfin tuna — where a mixed-bag of yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail have been biting — has been outside of San Martin Island — 125 to 135 miles, 152 to 154 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Mike Kraus of Black Jack reported fishing a recent three-day trip out of Marina Coral in Ensenada, Mexico, where they fished their way down to San Martin Island. Kraus reported excellent fishing — and the three anglers aboard caught 32 yellowfin tuna, two dorado, one bluefin tuna and 60 yellowtail (most of their yellowtail were released.)
Kraus reported that their hot action for yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail came from the area outside of San Martin Island while fishing kelp paddies found between 129 and 134 miles, 152 to 154 degrees from Point Loma.
Their bluefin tuna was the big fish on the trip at 26 pounds, and it came from a trolling strike on a cedar plug at the Peanut/Sausage Bank — 82 miles, 151 degrees from Point Loma. Kraus said that their biggest dorado weighed 21 pounds and their biggest yellowfin tuna weighed 18 pounds.
Kraus reported that he was buddy boating with his friend, Wes, on Reel Adventure during the three-day trip. He said Reel Adventure scored even better numbers of fish than they did during the three days of fishing, and picked up a 37-pound bluefin tuna on the troll. The bluefin was caught from a dolphin school, found 4 miles below the Peanut/Sausage Bank.
Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor, out of Fisherman’s Landing, fished a recent 1.5-day trip down to the area of the Peanut/Sausage Bank and reported catching 40 bluefin tuna and limits of yellowtail. The bluefin were averaging around 20 pounds.
Meisel said that he found a kelp paddy that was holding so many yellowtail, they filled the screen on his scanning sonar. He said it was the most yellowtail he has ever seen under a kelp paddy. The good fishing was found in 67- to 68-degree water.
Boats fishing around Los Coronado islands have been picking up an occasional yellowtail and have been catching good numbers of rockfish. Productive areas for a chance at a yellowtail have included Pukey Point at North Island, the lee side of North Island, the Middle Grounds and the Ribbon Kelp. The yellows have been mixed-size fish that have been running from 8 to 30 pounds.
The Mexican authorities continue to enforce the FMM Immigration Form (commonly called the “Mexican visa”) requirement — and boats fishing out around Los Coronados islands have been told to return to U.S. waters, if they do not have an FMM form, passports and Mexican fishing licenses for each person aboard. You also need to have the boat’s registration papers, a FCC ships station license for your VHF radio and an FCC operator’s license for the operator of the radio.
There is a now a new way to obtain the FMM Immigration forms online: at inm.gob.mx.
Private boater Jim Covell of Sea Bear was fishing at the Rockpile on a recent trip to Los Coronados islands and got inspected by the Mexican authorities. He had everything required except for his guest having a driver’s license instead of a passport. He was told that he had to leave Mexican waters and return to the U.S., because his friend did not have a passport.
There are still some marlin around and biting at the 182 Spot, with two marlin caught over the past weekend.
On Oct. 19, Maurice Smith of Sea Trek IV caught a marlin on a dropback mackerel at the 182 Spot, after a tough two-hour battle. Smith reported that they had a good amount of action, getting an early morning jig bite, seeing two sleepers, seeing a jumper and getting a double jig strike, where two jig fish came off when he caught his fish on the dropback mackerel. The double jig strike and hookup on the dropback mackerel came at around 2 p.m.
The second marlin of the past weekend was caught Oct. 20 aboard Ken Yasuda’s Encounter. Yasuda reported it was a jig fish that was caught while fishing in the area of the 182 Spot. The fish was hooked at 7:30 a.m. on a black and purple “Lil Scoot” lure made by Dave Matsura. The angler was Shawn Kaus, with Dave Matsura leadering the fish for the release.
This fall offshore fishing season is proving to be a surprisingly good one. 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 976-Bite at 976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the phone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.