Now Starring on the Offshore Fishing Scene: Jumbo Bluefin Tuna

SAN DIEGO—The 2019 Southern California offshore fishing season keeps rolling along and offshore anglers have several species to target on the offshore fishing grounds that include bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, yellowtail and dorado. The highlight offshore fishing continues to be for the jumbo sized bluefin tuna that have been ranging up into the 300+ pound class and have been giving anglers the opportunity to go out and try to catch the fish of a lifetime.

The bluefin have been ranging from 20 to 300+ pounds; at the time of writing this report, the jumbo-sized fish could be found at the offshore areas of San Clemente Island. As of this writing, the jumbo-sized bluefin area is ranging from 3 to 8 miles east-northeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island on over to the waters a few miles above the 86 Fathom Spot, which is located outside of China Point. There has also been bluefin action on fish to 150 pounds in the San Clemente Island region while fishing both above and inside of the Mackerel Bank and in the region of the 289 Spot.

Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing recently completed a three-day trip targeting the jumbo-sized bluefin; the 22 anglers aboard caught 21 bluefin tuna. Fisherman’s Landing reported the bluefin aboard Pacific Queen ranged in size from 80 to 287 pounds and they had five bluefin over the 200-pound mark.

Schools of bluefin have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, spots of breaking fish, spots of breezing fish and trolling strikes on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. Once located, the bluefin have been biting on kite trolled Yummy Flyers and kite fished flying fish. Also effective have been sardines and mackerel that have been presented to the schools of bluefin with balloons. Poppers have also been working when cast to breaking bluefin and have also worked well when cast to spots of breaking yellowfin. There are reports of a high percentage of the jumbo-sized bluefin hooked on poppers being lost to being bit off after having the bluefin inhale the entire popper into its mouth.

There have also been a few yellowfin biting offshore and primary areas where there has been recent yellowfin activity are the 224 Spot, the 289 Spot and the Mackerel Bank. There was also a recent report of some spots of breaking yellowfin being seen in the region of the 209 Spot in the offshore waters outside of San Onofre. Reports from the 209 Spot are that there have also been a few Dorado found under kelp paddies. Time will tell but it sounds like something significant might be getting ready to happen in the waters around the 209 Spot. The few yellowfin being caught have been running from 12 to 30 pounds and biting on poppers, stick baits, sardines, trolled cedar plugs and trolled Rapalas.

Boats fishing kelp paddies at offshore banks below and outside of Ensenada have been doing well on what have been mostly 8- to 17-pound yellowtail and fair numbers of Dorado. These fish have been biting from kelp paddies found in the region of the 295 Bank, the 450 Spot and the 1140 Finger. Some of the better sportboat trips that have been fishing down this way have been coming home with catches that include limits of yellowtail.

Striped marlin have also been providing some offshore action but not many boats are fishing for them with the jumbo sized bluefin being available to target out by San Clemente Island. There have been some boats fishing for marlin though and the best zone has been at Catalina Island for boats fishing 1 to 4 miles off the Island from Long Point over to Church Rock. Within that zone, the best area has been while fishing 1 to 4 miles off the Island between Avalon and the Slide. The Avalon Bank is another place in the Catalina region with recent marlin activity.

There have been occasional blind jig strikes from marlin and occasional sleepers, tailers and feeders to bait as well. My estimate is that there were one or two marlin caught and released from the Catalina area, Aug. 3 and 4.

The yellowtail fishing at the Coronado Islands has been just fair in recent days but there is a nice mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish biting at the Coronados to keep anglers busy and supplement the yellowtail action. The best areas for yellowtail have been the weather side of North Island and the Middle Grounds and slow trolling with sardines has been working best. Places that have been providing more of a mixed bag catch of surface fishing species have been kelp bed spots such as the Ribbon Kelp, the 5 Minute Kelp and the South Kelp.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, reds, rockfish and sculpin and there has also been a chance at finding a flurry of barracuda action along with a bonus yellowtail, lingcod or halibut.

Calico bass continue to provide most of the surface fishing action with kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast producing action. Some of the more productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Leucadia and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports the calico bass fishing has been excellent. Most of those calicos are short sized fish and released but there are also some legal sized catches in the mix.

Cacciola also reported they have been fishing kelp bed areas both above and below Oceanside Harbor. Up above the harbor, the best kelp bed areas have been the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and Box Canyon. Below Oceanside Harbor, they have been finding good action while working kelp bed areas between south Carlsbad and Leucadia            Rockfish remain a significant part of the coastal fishing picture with recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.

The summer fishing season continues to provide Southern California anglers good action! Anglers have a wide variety of species to consider targeting in a day of fishing be it along the coast, at the local Islands or in offshore waters. 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 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

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