By: Bob Vanian
There was a nice run of yellowtail at Los Coronado Islands to break in the New Year but the bite slowed during the middle part of the month and was slow through the first week of February. The good news is that the decline in the bite has reversed itself over the past couple of days with Malihini out of H&M Landing scoring yellowtail on each of its past two three-quarter day trips. Ollie from H&M Landing reports that these are the nice sized yellowtail that are going to 40 pounds and says that yo-yoed iron has been the best way to go in attempt to hook a big yellowtail.
Malihini located the yellows on a Saturday three quarter day trip and had 32 anglers catch 274 rockfish and 6 yellowtail. The Sunday three quarter day trip on Malihini showed the yellowtail bite on Saturday’s trip was no flash in the pan as 18 anglers returned with 100 rockfish and 10 yellowtail.
The best area for the yellowtail during this winter season has been along the weather side of North Island, with the Middle Grounds, the area into the east of North Island and the South Kelp Ridge being other areas that have produced some winter yellowtail action. The yellowtail have been located by finding meter marks, sonar marks and bait schools. Yo-yoed iron has been the best technique for the yellowtail but at times in January they also bit on surface iron and sardines. This winter yellowtail have been large fish that have been in the 20 to 40 pound class.
In addition to yellowtail, the waters around Los Coronado Islands have been producing good numbers of rockfish and a few bonus ling cod. One of the more productive areas for the bottom fishing has been the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while fishing on the Mexican side of the border in 60 to 90 fathoms of water. There has also been good bottom fishing for boats working the hard bottom to the north and north-northwest of North Island in 35 to 55 fathoms of water. Also productive for rockfish have been the ridges located outside of the Middle Grounds and the outer ridges of the South Kelp Ridge.
The Mexican authorities have been regularly patrolling the waters around and about Los Coronado Islands and have been sending anglers home who have not been in compliance with regulations. From a private boater’s perspective, things to carry for each person aboard are an FMM Immigration Form, a passport and a Mexican Fishing License. The FMM Immigration forms can be obtained over the internet at inm.gob.mx.
You should also have the boat’s registration paperwork aboard and be able to present an FCC permit for the VHF radio and an FCC permit for the operator of the radio. Additionally, the more I read about the problems people have had at some of the marinas within Mexico, the more I am thinking it would also be good practice to obtain a Temporary Importation Permit for the boat from Mexico customs and to also carry that document when boating or fishing in Mexico.
Boats fishing on 1.5 day trips have been finding excellent bottom fishing while fishing the Mexican coast in the Punta Colnett and Punta San Jose areas. Good sized reds and lingcod have been highlighting catches from down this way.
The past weekend saw some rough and windy weather enter the picture for boats out on Mexican coast 1.5 day bottom fishing trips and the fast drift resulting from the windy weather conditions made the fishing a bit tougher. Private boater Tom Parnakian fished a 1.5 day trip aboard Old Glory out of H&M Landing on the Saturday when the weather was windy and rough. He reported some good overall fishing as 21 anglers caught three sheephead, 69 rockfish, 110 reds and 48 lingcod.
Parnakian reported that he personally caught two lingcod and three rock cod and said he released four smaller sized lingcod and lost another big one at gaff. He reported that they mostly fished in about 20 fathoms of water in the Punta San Jose and Santo Tomas areas and said the windy weather made it difficult to fish in much deeper water. Parnakian said that the lingcod were biting best on live mackerel and live sardines that were fished on a blue shrimp fly.
Those fishing on the United States side of the Mexican border continue to fish under the restrictions imposed by the annual two month rockfish/groundfish closure that remains in effect until March 1, 2014. Anglers are anxiously awaiting the end of the closure period so they can resume fishing for rockfish and other species affected by the closure in United States waters. For the time being, anglers continue to target species that remain open to fishing during the closure period such as calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, yellowtail and halibut.
Hard bottom and structure spots have been productive for the sand bass, sculpin and calico bass. Specific areas that have been productive for the bass and sculpin in San Diego County waters have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom and kelp stringer areas off Imperial Beach, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at the Buoyline at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the NEL Tower off Mission Beach, the lower and upper ends of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and the hard bottom along the outside edges of the kelp at the Barn.
The halibut fishing has been just fair but a few halibut have been biting and a good strategy is to try fishing sandy bottom areas that are adjacent to hard bottom and structure. Spots that produce an occasional halibut are Imperial Beach, the Lighthouse Ridge at Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Torrey Pines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and the Golf Ball. Good live baits for halibut have been small mackerel, sardines and anchovies.
There have been occasional showings of yellowtail outside of the upper end of La Jolla but not much has been reported from this area in recent days. The best bet has been to look for the yellows around schools of bait found outside of the upper end of La Jolla in 20 to 40 fathoms of water. Surface iron has been the best bet in trying to hook a yellowtail but you need to be able to get the jig to the fish before they sound.
This winter continues to provide some fun fishing opportunities. Pick a good weather day and enjoy some time out on the water. 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.