SAN DIEGO—Old Man Winter eventually wins out every year, as the Southern California offshore fishing season has been struggling after the passing of the third or fourth weather system of the past couple of weeks. Each of those weather systems has had an effect in the lowering of the offshore water temperature which is currently in the 61.5- to 63-degree range and the result is recent trips going offshore for yellowfin and bluefin have found pretty good numbers of 3- to 8-pound kelp paddie yellowtail biting. They have struggled, however, to do much in the way of catching bluefin or yellowfin.
The past few days have seen three sportboat counts posted by boats out looking for tuna in local offshore waters. Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished an overnight trip with 27 anglers who caught five skipjack and 76 yellowtails. Sea Adventure 80 out of H&M Landing returned home from a 2.75-day trip with 20 anglers having caught two yellowfin, one skipjack, 36 yellowtails and 100 rockfish. Grande out of H&M Landing fished a full day trip and returned with one yellowfin and 29 yellowtails.
Maybe some better numbers of bluefin or yellowfin will be relocated in local offshore waters sometime soon, but for the time being the fishing for both species of tuna are slow. The sector where much of the fishy looking activity has been found in recent days has been in the area to the west and the southwest of the 371 Bank ranging from 30 to 40 miles 210 to 218 degrees from Point Loma.
What continues to produce some action in offshore waters despite the recent weather systems has been the deep drop method of fishing for swordfish. Productive areas in recent days have been the drop-off coastal shelf outside of Newport Beach and Oceanside as well as the region of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the nearby 178 Spot. It seems like the fishing has been good enough a swordfish or two are caught from these areas on quite a few of the days when there are several boats out giving one or more of these areas a try. Large frozen squid have been working best for bait while fished in depths ranging from 800 to 900-plus feet below the surface.
Not many boats have been fishing around Los Coronado Islands lately because of the good tuna fishing of recent weeks being found in local offshore waters.
Fletcher reported starting their day of fishing by fishing along the weather side of North Island in 62.8-degree water. Fletcher reported beautiful and calm weather conditions and said they found steady action on 3- to 5-pound bonito that were biting on small trolled Rapalas. They ended up catching 6 bonito out of that bite, which included one larger fish between 7 and 8 pounds. They kept some of their bonito and released the rest.
Fletcher said their next move was to try the Middle Grounds and when they got there they found the water was cold and at 61.75 degrees. Nothing was happening in the cooler water and they did not spend much time at the Middle Grounds before heading out to the west-southwest of North Island to try some rock cod fishing.
A pleasant surprise from the fishing along the San Diego County coast was a recent day of fishing when there was a good bite on nice sized yellowtail to 30 pounds. The yellows popped up in 18 fathoms of water in the area below the MLPA closure zone off the lower end of La Jolla. There was bird school yellowtail activity in the area and action was being found on sardines, mackerel and iron with one private boater reporting having caught seven yellowtails.
For those using live sardines and live mackerel, action was found on flylined, slow trolled and dropper loop fished baits. One skipper also reported catching a nice sized yellowtail on blue and chrome iron that I believe was a blue and chrome yo-yo iron. The area has since quieted down on yellowtail but anglers are hoping that the yellows will settle in at La Jolla and stage an autumn bite that carries over into winter.
The remainder of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of reds, rockfish, sculpin, bass, sheephead and whitefish. There have also been occasional flurries of bonito action by the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma.
Southern California anglers have had a very good tuna season but things appear to be winding down. Time will tell if more bluefin or yellowfin will be located in local offshore waters during the remainder of 2019 but it would not surprise me that much if more tuna were relocated before the end of the year. Until such time, there is plenty of fun to be had fishing at the local islands or along the coast! 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 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.