SAN DIEGO — The spring fishing season is not too far away of rolling over into the summer months and the overall spring time surface fishing picture continues to progress and improve as we proceed toward July, August and September.
Anglers do not have to wait until summer to get in on some good action, though, as we currently have a variety of surface fishing species biting that include bluefin tuna, yellowtail, barracuda, white sea bass and calico bass. Halibut is another species that has recently become more active as the water has continued to warm during the spring.
The offshore fishing for bluefin tuna and yellowtail attracts a lot of the attention and there has been good fishing for both species at times during the spring months. As I write this report, the bite on bluefin tuna and offshore yellowtail has seen a few consecutive days of scratchy fishing. The good news, however, is both species are still holding in local offshore waters and are still biting.
The bluefin tuna have ranged from 25 to 204 pounds, with most in the 25- to 60-pound range. During the past few days of scratchy bluefin fishing, most of what has been caught has been the larger 100-pound-plus fish.
Bluefin have been biting from stopping on sonar marks, spots of breaking fish and meter marks. A development of the past 10 days or so is bluefin also started to bite from getting strikes on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. In addition to the kite trolled Yummy Flyers, productive baits when drifting have been flylined sardines, sardines fished deep with a rubber band attached torpedo sinker and flat fall jigs.
The offshore yellowtails have been biting around kelp paddies. Most of the yellowtail bite has been in the 6- to 12-pound range and biting best on sardines.
Recent days have seen most of the bluefin and yellowtail activity being found in a couple of different zones. One productive area has been the region of the 371 Bank for boats fishing from 25 to 35 miles 200 to 215 degrees from Point Loma. There has also been some action for boats fishing the region below and outside of the 475 Knuckle in an area ranging from 40 to 50 miles, 165 to 175 degrees from Point Loma.
There have been a few thresher sharks biting for boats fishing outside of Torrey Pines and at the Carlsbad Canyon. Bright pink color Bait-O-Matics that are baited with mackerel have been working well for the threshers with trolled Rapalas also producing an occasional thresher shark. Some of the threshers have been huge fish (500+ pounds).
The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to produce an occasional nice sized yellowtail or white sea bass for boats fishing at the upper end of La Jolla and there is also an occasional nice sized white sea bass caught by boats fishing with live mackerel at the Barn Kelp and View Point areas above Oceanside. The remainder of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, rockfish, whitefish and an occasional halibut.
If you want to try La Jolla for yellowtail, the best bet has been fishing with a live mackerel, surface iron or yo-yo iron outside of the upper end of La Jolla in the 18 to 30 fathom depths. Locating meter marks or spots of breaking fish has been the best way to locate yellowtail. The best bet for a chance at a white sea bass at La Jolla has been fishing along the edges of the kelp beds while using a live mackerel.
Calico bass continue to bite at kelp bed areas up and down the San Diego County coast. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reported kelp bed areas with 62 to 64 degree water and a steady current flow has been a key to finding a good calico bass bite.
Cacciola added they have been catching a lot of short sized, must release calicos but there were enough legal sized fish in the mix to keep things interesting. The calicos have been biting well on the smaller sized five to six inch sardines as well as on plastics. Hookup Bait plastics worked well as the bait.
Halibut have become more active along sandy bottom areas adjacent to the kelp bed spots and hard bottom spots, Cacciola added. He’s been seeing one to two legal sized halibut posted within the cumulative landing totals for boats fishing out of the Oceanside Sea Center. Cacciola reported they had a legal halibut within their catch aboard Sea Star. The halibut was caught on a 6-inch sardine, fished on sandy bottom adjacent to the edge of a kelp bed.
The spring fishing season is providing anglers with a wide variety of species to target and things should continue to improve as we head toward the prime summer months. 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.
Photo: Red Rooster III