Late Summer Bites: Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna

SAN DIEGO—There are still three weeks of summer remaining as I am preparing this report and the fishing for bluefin and yellowfin appears to gaining momentum as we head toward the fall. The fishing for yellowfin has been very good with some near limit and limit catches being reported. There have also been good numbers of bluefin to target for those who would prefer to focus on trying to catch a fish of a lifetime jumbo sized fish that have been going to 200+ pounds. A great thing is there are some areas where you have a chance at finding yellowfin and bluefin to 125 pounds in the same zone.

            The best places to target yellowfin tuna and are providing a chance at bluefin to 125 pounds are currently at the 385 Spot outside of Ensenada and at some of the local offshore banks within 30 miles or so of Point Loma such as the 425 Bank, 371 Bank, 302 Spot and the 224 Spot. The waters outside of the 9 Mile Bank are producing a few yellowfin. The past day or so, however, has seen the bite outside of the 9 Mile Bank on the upswing for 40- to 125-pound bluefin. These areas are also providing a chance at catching some yellowtail, skipjack and Dorado.

The best areas to try and focus on fishing for the jumbo sized bluefin to 200+ pounds have been the region of the 182 Spot, 43 Fathom Spot, 289 Spot, Mackerel Bank, Desperation Reef, 86 Fathom Spot and the area 2 to 6 miles southeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island.

Most of the yellowfin have been caught on sardines after stopping the boat alongside of some breaking fish, puddling fish, breezing fish, a meter mark, a kelp paddie or a sonar mark. A lot of the stops are “plunker” bite stops where you drift and chum and keep a hookup or two going during a long drift. It usually helps anglers draw strikes on the sardines in these situations by using 15- to 20-pound test fluorocarbon leaders and small hooks. In addition to sardines, yellowfin have also been biting well on poppers and Colt Snipers.

Most of the bluefin are being located by finding spots of puddling fish, spots of breezing fish, sonar marks and meter marks. Once located, the bluefin have been biting on kite trolled Yummy Flyers, on flying fish that are fished from a kite, on slow trolled mackerel, slow trolled sardines, drifted sardines, poppers, surface iron, Flat Fall jigs and mackerel or sardines that are fished from a balloon.

Marcus Hale of Cabrilla reported finding some yellowfin tuna feeding around a whale in the area inside of the 302 Spot at 20 miles 227 degrees from Point Loma. Hale stopped and chummed and had the yellowfin come to the boat and bite wide open. The fish stayed with the boat very well and the two aboard were able to catch their limits of 10 yellowfin tuna out of the stop. Hale said the yellowfin were still biting when they left the stop to head for home.

Capt. Bob Fletcher of Fletch reported of a 1.5-day trip he took on Searcher out of Fisherman’s Landing. He said they had a great trip in catching 100-plus yellowfin and three bluefin to 91 pounds. The hot action came while fishing between 28 and 30 miles from Point Loma, in the area outside of the Kidney Bank where the 302 Spot is located. Fletcher reported they had their best stop late in the day – around 5 p.m. – and lasted until dark.

The yellowfin they were catching were 15-pound average fish and Fletcher said he also caught a 33-pound bluefin that got snagged in the side. The foul hooked bluefin was a very difficult fish to land in trying to bring it up sideways.

Sardines and Flat Fall jigs were working for the bluefin. Fletcher said the 91-pound bluefin was caught on a Flat Fall jig fished in the dark. Sardines and Colt Snipers were reported to be working well for the yellowfin. The water temperature where they were catching fish was 73 degrees and was a dirty green color. Fletcher said the 73-degree dirty green color water was loaded with small baitfish holding the game fish in the area.

Capt. Louie Zimm of Shearwater reported finding a wide open yellowfin tuna bite while fishing above the 9 Mile Bank at 12 miles 267 degrees from Point Loma. The two aboard caught 10 of the 17- to 21-pound yellowfin tuna before leaving biting fish to head for home at 10 a.m.

Zimm found the red hot yellowfin stop by slowly circling a spot of jumping tuna and laying out a chum line. The fish did not spook and responded to the chum and came to the boat and stayed with them until they left to head for home. They started idling toward home and Zimm said the school of fish followed the boat. Everyone on the boat had fun watching the fish boil on every sardine tossed in the water as they continued to idle toward Point Loma.

Marlin fishing has been fair with some action being reported at areas in the Catalina region for boats fishing off the Slide, off the Can Dump, off Avalon, off Long Point, at the Avalon Bank, at the 152 Spot and at the 14 Mile Bank. There are occasional tailers, sleepers and jumpers being seen and some blind jig strikes to be found. My estimation is there were one or two marlins caught and released from this zone over the past weekend.

Los Coronado Islands have not seen much fishing pressure lately due to the good tuna fishing available in local offshore waters. Malihini out of H&M Landing fished a recent trip to the Coronados and found good bottom fishing with 32 anglers on a full-day trip. The anglers aboard caught 100 rockfish, 94 reds, 15 sculpin, five calico bass and one sheephead.

The best areas for a chance at finding some surface fishing action around Los Coronado Islands have been along the weather side of North Island, the north end of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp. Good areas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north, the northwest and the northeast of North Island while fishing in 20 to 45 fathoms of water.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, reds, rockfish and sculpin and there has also been a chance at finding a few small bonito biting along with a chance at a bonus lingcod or halibut.

Calico bass continue to provide most of the surface fishing action with kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast producing action. The most productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Solana Beach and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon. There has been some improving sand bass fishing from working hard bottom areas off Imperial Beach and from working the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline.

Rockfish continue to be a significant part of the coastal fishing picture with recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.

Hard bottom and structure spots have been producing some bass and sculpin with productive places being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, areas between the Imperial Beach Pipeline and the Mexico border, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

Bill Parker of Cabo had a chance to fish on a recent Scripps based MLPA research trip. The trip was with Capt. Joe Cacciola aboard Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center. Parker said it was a catch, measure, tag and release trip to provide data for work with the MLPA closure areas. He said they caught, measured, tagged and released a lot of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish while fishing at and around MLPA closure areas in the Oceanside region. Parker enjoyed the special opportunity to fish on such a research trip and had nothing but good things to say about Sea Star, Captain Joe Cacciola and his crew.

The summer fishing season is gaining momentum as we head toward the fall. I hope you can take advantage of the fun fishing opportunities be it fishing offshore at 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 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

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