By: Bob Vanian
The great 2014 offshore fishing season just keeps getting better with more fish biting in more areas and with the marlin bite also starting to take shape and produce better action. When you add marlin to the menu of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dorado and yellowtail, it’s about as good as it gets.
Additional good news is that it appears as if the Mexican government is lifting the ban on bluefin tuna fishing in Mexican waters. While it is not 100 percent official, as the Sportfishing Association of California is still waiting for written confirmation as of press time, it appears that fishing for bluefin tuna will be reopened in Mexican waters soon.
The yellowfin tuna have been in the 8 to 40 pound range and some of the bigger ones might as well be bigeye tuna. The bluefin have been running from 15 to 80-plus pounds with a good number of 30 to 40-pound bluefin reported in the mix. The dorado have been running from 10 to 30 pounds, and the yellowtail have ranged from small throwback-sized fish on up to 25 pounds.
It is amazing how far and wide the area of good fishing ranges with tuna biting from the 125 Spot above the West End of Catalina, all the way down to the offshore banks outside of Ensenada.
The stops have been coming from blind jig strikes, drifting around spots of working tern birds, drifting near spots of breaking fish, porpoise schools, meter marks and drifting around kelp paddies. Natural color cedar plugs and black and purple color cedar plugs have been working well on the troll.
Some reports from the past few days of fishing start with a report from Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing, who reported about a recent 1.5 day trip. Meisel had a great trip with limits of yellowfin tuna (185 yellowfin tuna), 40 yellowtail and 16 dorado. Meisel also mentioned his prior 2.5 day trip as also being outstanding with limits of yellowfin (240 yellowfin), 30 yellowtail and eight bluefin tuna that were in the 50 to 90-pound range.
Private boater Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever reported about a two-day trip where he fished the areas of the 390 Bank, the 450 Spot, the Upper 500 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank and caught 50 yellowfin tuna, 10 dorado, one marlin that was released, several keeper-sized yellowtail and a bunch of small yellowtail that were released.
Bowers had his best stop of the trip while fishing inside of the 450 Spot at 53 miles 204 degrees from Point Loma. This highlight stop came from a kelp paddy and produced nine dorado, five yellowfin tuna, lots of yellowtail and the marlin. The marlin bit on a sardine fished on a bait rig that was intended for tuna or dorado, and it was caught and released while using a 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader and a small circle hook.
Capt. Chris Abate of the six-pack charter yacht Prime Time of Prime Time Sportfishing reported fishing the Upper 500 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank and catching limits of yellowfin tuna for everyone aboard, including the crew. In addition to their limits of yellowfin, they also caught three dorado, nine yellowtail and a bunch of small yellowtail that were released.
Capt. Todd Shifflett of the six-pack charter yacht Predator reported an excellent day of fishing with limits of yellowfin tuna while fishing the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot and while fishing the deep water outside of the 224 Spot. They had good stops at 24 miles 246 degrees from Point Loma and at 30 miles 239 degrees from Point Loma.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been outstanding for yellowtail and also includes some good mixed bag fishing for bonito, calico bass, barracuda and rockfish. Productive areas for the yellowtail have been the South Kelp, the South Kelp Ridge, the lee side of South Island and the Middle Grounds.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, bonito, barracuda, sand bass, yellowtail and rockfish. Kelp bed areas are producing most of the action with the kelp beds at Point Loma, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, the Barn, San Onofre and San Mateo being top spots.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reports very good fishing for calico bass at the kelp bed areas between South Carlsbad and Solana Beach. He also said they have had a nice mix of sand bass, barracuda and bonito in the mix.
Marlin fishing has picked up with the past weekend seeing a sharp increase in the marlin action around Catalina Island and at some of the offshore banks outside of Point Loma. My estimate is that six or seven marlin were caught and released over the past weekend in the Catalina area with action being reported around the 125 Spot off the west end of Catalina, the 499 Spot outside of the west end of Catalina and the area outside of the V’s.
This continues to be a fishing season to remember. Make sure to do what you can to get out there and get in on the action. 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 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.