SAN DIEGO — The 2018 Southern California fishing season continues to blossom during the late part of the summer as anglers have a choice of targeting good bites such as jumbo sized bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack, yellowtail, calico bass and bonito. The striped marlin bite is just fair at the moment but those exotics are around and biting as well.
The highlight fishing continues to be for 50- to 300-plus-pound bluefin, which are biting off the middle part of the backside of San Clemente Island (the area of the 57 Fathom Spot on up toward Seal Cove).
The bluefin fishing has been very good at times and the fish have been biting well on kite trolled Yummy Flyers, live flying fish, frozen flying fish, live mackerel and Flat Fall jigs. The White Rock area along the front side of San Clemente Island has been a zone where Skippers go to try to net some flying fish at night to use for bait for the big bluefin tuna.
Private boater, Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever, provided a report on Sept. 2, while on day two of a three-day Labor Day weekend trip to fish the big bluefin at San Clemente Island. On the first day of the trip they caught two of the 50-pound bluefin and one of the jumbo-sized 220-pound bluefin.
Of the five bluefin hookups they experienced at the time of his report, four were on Flat Fall jigs and one was on a frozen flying fish that was fished from a helium balloon. Bowers reported that most of their action was coming while fishing to the west of the 57 Fathom Spot at around 70 miles 267 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about fishing for the jumbo-sized bluefin off the backside of San Clemente Island on Sept. 1. He said they had great success in catching a 237-pound and a 51-pound bluefin tuna. Steve Kunitake hooked the fish that weighed 237 pounds at early morning gray light while using a 250-gram size glow in the dark Flat Fall jig. The 51-pound bluefin was hooked at 4:00 p.m. on a kite trolled Yummy Flyer.
Golding said the 237-pound bluefin was Kunitake’s largest tuna ever, with his prior best being a 220-pound yellowfin tuna he caught on a 15-day long-range trip. Golding said they had their action while fishing off the back side of San Clemente Island to the southwest of the 57 Fathom Spot at 68 miles 265° from Point Loma.
The fishing for yellowfin tuna and skipjack has been excellent for boats fishing the region of the Upper Hidden Bank in an area ranging from 38 to 45 miles 180 to 190 degrees from Point Loma. The better days of action have been providing near limit to limit numbers of both yellowfin tuna and skipjack. Most of the yellowfin have ranged in size from 8 to 15 pounds with occasional larger fish to 35 pounds also being reported. In addition to yellowfin tuna and skipjack the area of the Upper Hidden Bank has also been producing a few Dorado and yellowtail along with an occasional striped marlin.
There continues to be a chance at finding a good Dorado bite on kelp paddies in offshore waters ranging from Catalina on down to the Upper Hidden Bank region below San Diego. There are a lot of empty kelp paddies around but there are also some paddies that are holding some fish. A recent report was of a good Dorado bite from a kelp paddie found above the 182 Spot at about 25 miles 272 degrees from Point Loma.
The marlin fishing has been widely scattered and has been mostly scratchy during the past week or so. Some areas that have provided some recent marlin action from south to north have been the Upper Hidden Bank, the area inside of the 302 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, the area 10 to 15 miles off Oceanside, the 152 Spot off the east end of Catalina, the Avalon Bank, the Catalina Canyon, the West End of Catalina and Anacapa Island. There has also been some scattered action found between the West End of Catalina and Anacapa.
The fishing around Los Coronado Islands remains good for a mix of yellowtail, bonito and calico bass along with a chance at catching a bluefin tuna. There have been a lot of productive areas which include Pukey Point, the hard bottom about 1.5 miles northeast of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the Flats inside of South Island, the 5 Minute Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge.
As an example of the recent fishing, the fish counts from Sept. 2 start with Point Loma Sportfishing that had Mission Belle fishing a full-day trip with 40 anglers who caught 94 yellowtails, 55 bonito, 10 calico bass, 9 rockfish and one sheephead.
Seaforth Sportfishing had a full-day trip aboard Sea Watch with 35 anglers catch 29 yellowtails, four bonito and 19 calico bass. Seaforth Sportfishing also had San Diego fishing a full-day trip with 54 anglers catching 92 yellowtails, 11 calico bass and 119 bonito.
H&M Landing had Grande out on a full-day trip with 59 anglers who caught 85 yellowtails, 89 bonito and five calico bass.
Fisherman’s Landing had Liberty fishing a full day trip with 58 anglers who caught 56 yellowtails, 42 bonito, nine calico bass and two barracuda.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains very good for calico bass and there has also been a chance at getting into some flurries of action on bonito and yellowtail while fishing the Point Loma Kelp Beds and the La Jolla Kelp Beds. Yellowtails have also started to show a bit better at the kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach.
The upper end of La Jolla has been best for yellowtail with action being reported on flylined sardines and mackerel, slow trolled sardines and mackerel as well as trolled Rapalas. No big bite on the yellows at La Jolla but over the Labor Day weekend some private boaters were reporting having caught 2 or 3 of the 12- to 20-pound yellowtail during a morning or an afternoon of fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reported they are still fishing in warm 74- to 77-degree water. Cacciola has been fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. The calico bass fishing improved on his most recent trip, with the easing of what had been a very strong downhill current flow and was once again very good. In addition to calico bass he said they have been catching a good number of nice sized sheephead when they fish their baits on the bottom.
It is getting late in the summer season and there should still be a lot of good fishing that remains during the rest of the summer and the fall. I hope you have a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the fun fishing that the remainder of the season will have to offer! 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 email@example.com.
Newport Landing photo