By: Bob Vanian
SAN DIEGO — The 2014 Los Coronado Islands yellowtail season has sure been a good one to date, as the run of fish that began in early January has continued well into the spring with no signs of easing. When you add to the picture the fact that most of the yellowtail that have been biting have been large 20 to 30 pound fish, the early 2014 Los Coronado Islands fishing season has been and continues to be a special treat.
The yellowtail in the region of Los Coronado Islands have been moving around with the changing water conditions and have been found in areas that have ranged from a good distance down below the Islands at the Finger Bank all the way up to the weather side of North Island. The current hot bite areas are right around the Islands proper with the weather side of North Island, the hard bottom into the north of North Island and the South Kelp Ridge producing yellowtail in recent days. The water temperature around the Islands that tends to hold the yellowtail has been running 60 to 61 degrees and has been a green-blue color.
At times there have been yellowtail caught while fishing on the anchor but most of the action comes from stopping on sonar marks, meter marks or spots of fish found up on the surface under working birds. Yo-yo iron has been working the best for the yellowtail with surface iron also working well when fish are first found on the surface or come up to the surface chasing after the chum. Live mackerel and sardines have also produced some yellowtail but have not been working as well as iron. Good choices for surface iron have been Tady 45’s and Salas 7X Lights in blue and white, mint and sardine colors. Good choices for yo-yo iron have been Salas 6X and 6X Jr’s, Sumo Jr’s and Tady 4/0’s in blue and white, blue and chrome and scrambled egg colors.
Private boater Harry Okuda of Alfresco III reported about fishing a recent three-quarter day trip aboard Malihini out of H&M Landing where 19 anglers caught 22 yellowtail and 31 rockfish. Okuda caught two nice sized yellowtail on the day while using yo-yoed iron and his observation was that all of the yellows aboard the boat were caught on either yo-yo iron or surface iron. Okuda’s estimation of the size of the fish caught was that they fell within the 20 to 28 pound range. Okuda had nothing but good things to say about Capt. Mike Schmidt and the crew aboard Malihini.
Capt. Mike Hadfield of the six pack charter yacht Josie Lynn with Point Loma Sportfishing reported about a recent overnight trip where he fished at the Finger Bank and Los Coronado Islands. Hadfield said he spent the morning fishing for rockfish at the Finger Bank where they found excellent fishing on a mix of fish that included some nice sized reds, salmon grouper and lingcod. They also found a few spots of jumbo sized bonito at the Finger Bank and caught one of the big bonito. Hadfield said the bonito were 12 to 15 pound fish and that he saw a couple of spots up on the surface and also found a couple of spots of fish via sonar marks with their scanning sonar.
Hadfield spent the afternoon fishing for yellowtail at the South Kelp Ridge below South Island. He found a few schools of yellowtail holding deep via sonar marks and they were able to catch one yellowtail out of two hookups while using yo-yoed iron. Their fish count for the day was six anglers on an overnight trip catching one bonito, one yellowtail, two lingcod, 30 rockfish, six sculpin and 17 reds.
Boats fishing out of San Diego Bay have been doing well on the rockfish while fishing hard bottom spots outside of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. The Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Dropoff at Point Loma and the Point Loma Pipeline have also been productive spots for rockfish.
In the La Jolla region, there have been sporadic showings of yellowtail ranging in the area from outside of Mission Bay to the upper end of La Jolla. The yellowtail have been hard to catch because they are usually up and down very quickly and have sounded before being able to cast a jig to fish that are still on the surface. Every once in a while someone is able to hook a nice sized yellowtail but overall, the La Jolla and Mission Bay area yellowtail bite has been scratchy.
Boats fishing hard bottom areas outside of the upper end of La Jolla and out to the west of Mission Bay have been picking up pretty good numbers of rockfish while fishing in depths ranging from 25 to 45 fathoms of water. Look for a chance at catching a halibut while fishing the sandy bottom next to structure outside of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Drifting alongside of the structure of the Yukon wreck or the sunken NEL Tower can help you focus on productive sandy bottom halibut areas.
In the northern San Diego County region, there have been rockfish biting for boats fishing outside of Del Mar, Solana Beach South Cardiff, Leucadia and Box Canyon. Also try for a few bass and sculpin while fishing the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and the structure of the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines.
Drifting the sandy bottom around the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and the sandy bottom off of the Golf Ball can lead to some halibut action. Boats fishing out of Dana Point have reported finding some halibut activity while drifting sandy bottom around the pipeline at San Onofre and outside of the edges of kelp at the Barn.
There have been a few yellowtail and white seabass biting at San Clemente and Catalina Islands. At San Clemente Island there have been some squid to catch for bait at night in Pyramid Cove but the seals often make it difficult to catch the squid for bait. Try for white seabass where you might locate some squid in Pyramid Cove and try for yellowtail at the ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove and along the back side of the middle part of the Island in the Windmill area.
At Catalina there have been a few squid to jig for bait outside of the Isthmus and outside of the V’s. Look for a chance at a white seabass at the squid area outside of the V’s as well as off Salta Verde, Little Harbor, West Cove and Iron Bound Cove. There has been a chance at picking up a yellowtail in the early morning hours while fishing the squid area off the V’s as well as while fishing the Church Rock area at the East End of Catalina.
There are lots of options to choose from when targeting fish in this early season. The spring fishing should get nothing but better as the water continues to warm. 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.