SAN DIEGO—Offshore anglers are witnessing a rather large buildup of bluefin and yellowfin in offshore waters around banks ranging from 10 to 50 miles from Point Loma. There are epic showings of bluefin and yellowfin being reported most everyday but getting those fish to bite can be a different matter. The bluefin and yellowfin are reported to be feasting on tiny sized anchovies as a natural food source. They are sometimes reluctant to come away from that natural feed and bite the baits and lures that anglers are presenting to them. A very exciting prospect is what might happen in the way of an epic bite once the tuna change their habits and start biting the baits and lures anglers are presenting to them better. The exciting thing to ponder is this could happen at any time!
There are some days when the yellowfin and bluefin bite well and other days when it is hard to get the fish to bite. What has been working best for bluefin and yellowfin in recent days is to cast poppers to spots of breaking, puddling or foaming tuna when you first approach them.
Private boater Floyd Sparks of Tuna Kahuna reported great success with this technique on a recent trip and had the three anglers aboard catch their limits of yellowfin tuna and two bluefin tuna. The two bluefin were both large fish that were in the 85- to 90-pound range. Sparks was fishing with his son Dillon and their friend Andrew aboard. It was Dillon’s 16th birthday, by the way! Dillon had quite the birthday to remember in catching both of the big bluefin and his limit of yellowfin!
Floyd Sparks said all their tuna were caught on poppers. The hot popper for them was a Halco Roosta in the Haymaker size (large). They were getting bit on a variety of colors and the red head with a white body was working best. The best rod and reel setup for them was reported to be a Calstar 800H with a Shimano Talica 16 reel.
He (Floyd Sparks) added teamwork and timing were very important in getting the tuna to bite. Floyd Sparks reported finding this hot action while fishing inside of the Corner at 28 miles 247 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Robert Serdoz of Lucky Charm fished a recent solo tuna trip and reported about the trip. Serdoz fished the area between the 224 Spot and the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot and reported catching a yellowfin and a kelp paddie yellowtail. Serdoz reported seeing lots and lots of spots of breaking bluefin and yellowfin throughout the day that did not want to bite very well. He reported catching his tuna on a popper and said he had four other brief tuna hookups on the popper that did not last very long until the hook pulled out. Serdoz felt the tuna were more in a swatting at the popper mode rather than hitting it hard and the tuna were not getting hooked very well. Serdoz said there was a lot of action in chasing around spots of breaking fish and his central area of activity was out about 24 miles 240 degrees from Point Loma.
The bluefin tuna have been running from 40 to 250+ pounds, with most falling within the 50- to 90-pound range. The yellowfin tuna have been mixed size fish that have been running from 8 to 30 pounds. Kelp paddie yellowtails have been running from 10 to 18 pounds and there have been a few 8- to 12-pound Dorado in the mix as well. We are currently in a mode where most of the tuna action originates from spots of breaking, puddling or foaming fish but there are still a few blind trolling strikes around and some stops coming from stopping on meter marks, sonar marks and porpoise schools. Sardines, Flat Falls jigs and Colt Snipers are catching some tuna but what has been working best are casting poppers, stick baits and surface iron jigs with the poppers topping the list and working best.
There are a few striped marlins in the offshore picture, with a report from a reliable source of one or two marlin having being caught and released over the past couple of weeks. On July 6, private boater Capt. Bob Woodard, Jr., of Dropback reported hooking a marlin at the 302 Spot at the Kidney Bank while baiting some puddling tuna under a spot of working birds. Woodard had the marlin hooked on straight 30-pound test line using a circle hook with no leader and he said he backed off on the drag while the fish was jumping around to try and avoid being broken off by abrasion from the fish’s bill. Woodard said it was a very small marlin of around 60 pounds and he thought they might have a chance to catch and release it when the hookup survived the first several minutes of the fish jumping around. Unfortunately the abrasion from the bill wore through the 30-pound test line and the fish was lost after a 6 minute hookup.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with an occasional flurry of barracuda action and an occasional bonus yellowtail, halibut or lingcod.
The best zone at a chance for some barracuda action has been in the area of the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma and along the edges of the Point Loma Kelp Beds. The Point Loma Kelp Beds have also been producing some surface fishing action for calico bass. The yellowtail fishing along the coast has been slow with La Jolla being the best zone to try and scratch out a coastal yellowtail. Reports from La Jolla are that there have been occasional small spots of yellowtail were reportedly seen under working birds outside of the upper end.
In addition to the Point Loma Kelp Beds, calico bass have also been active and biting in several other kelp bed areas along the San Diego County coast that include the kelp beds off the upper and the upper middle part of La Jolla and the kelp beds by the Barn and San Onofre. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center also reported finding good calico bass while fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. Cacciola reported the best baits for the calicos have been anchovies and Hookup Bait plastics and he suggests using a 0.25-ounce split shot when fishing an anchovy if you are having a hard time getting the bait away from the boat.
Productive rockfish areas off the San Diego County coast include the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.
There are some tuna biting now but once these fish change their habits a bit and start biting better there are enough fish around that we could be in for some epic tuna fishing! 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.