SAN DIEGO — The Southern California offshore fishing season has had some ups and downs but overall, it continues to be good fishing that provides a chance at finding bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, Dorado, yellowtail and striped marlin. To compliment the offshore fishing, the action for yellowtail, bonito, and bluefin tuna is excellent for boats fishing around Los Coronado Islands and the fishing along the San Diego County coast is very good for a mix of yellowtail, bonito and calico bass.
Big bluefin tuna continue to bite out at San Clemente Island. The bluefin have been running from 30 to 250+ pounds, with a lot of the fish falling within the 120- to 200-pound range. Kite trolled Yummy Flyers have been the best bet for the bluefin, which have also been caught while drifting over meter marks or around spots of breaking fish and using mackerel, live squid and Flat Fall jigs. Occasional bluefin are also hooked on surface iron or poppers that are cast to spots of breaking fish.
The best areas for the bluefin at San Clemente Island have been in the region of Desperation Reef, the 81 Fathom Spot, the 86 Fathom Spot, the 381 Spot and in the area to the northwest of the 86 Fathom Spot.
Another area where big bluefin have been biting at times has been 10 to 15 miles outside of Encinitas. Some 15- to 40-pound bluefin have been biting at the Cortes Bank. Boats fishing Los Coronado Islands have also been finding action on bluefin that have been running from 8 to 40 pounds.
Kelp paddies from the Catalina Channel all the way down to the offshore waters outside of Ensenada are providing a chance at finding yellowtail and Dorado. There have been a few yellowfin tuna to be found throughout this stretch of ocean as well. The waters in the Catalina region and the waters outside of Ensenada have seen the bite turn scratchy in recent days with the best zone currently being at the offshore banks outside of San Diego such as the 9 Mile Bank, the 138 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot and the Corner.
What might well be a sign of some great late season action to come is a report from Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing. He reported they were out on a weekend 2.5-day trip and found excellent fishing for Dorado, yellowtail and yellowfin tuna. Meisel was just finishing up day 2 of a 2.5-day trip and at the time of his report was estimating they had between 200 and 300 mixed Dorado, yellowtail and yellowfin tuna aboard.
The striped marlin fishing picked up in mid to late August, with some good action being found by boats fishing the region around and between the 175 Spot and the 17 Fathom Spot above the West End of Catalina. My estimate is there were eight marlins caught and released by boats. There has also been some recent marlin activity reported outside of Ben Weston, at the Avalon Bank, between Los Coronado Islands and the Kidney Bank and at the 9 Mile Bank.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for calico bass, bonito and yellowtail. Kelp bed areas have been the best for the calico bass with the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the La Jolla Kelp beds, the kelp beds between Del Mar and Leucadia and the kelp at the Barn, San Onofre and Point San Mateo producing good numbers of calicos. The best zone for the yellowtail and bonito has been while fishing the Flats above the Mexico Border outside of Imperial Beach. Going up the coast, there has also been improved bonito and yellowtail activity at La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn, San Onofre and Point San Mateo.
The bonito and yellowtail fishing at the Flats off Imperial Beach has been producing near limit to limit numbers of both species and the action has been found in a variety of ways. Skippers have been locating fish by getting trolling strikes, sonar marks, meter marks or from stopping on spots of breezing fish. Once fish are located, they have been drifting on the schools of fish and anglers have been catching the bonito and yellowtail on sardines and surface iron. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports good calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between Leucadia and Solana Beach.
It is amazing how many great options Southern California ocean anglers have to choose from in deciding what they would like to fish for. There is very good fishing to be found on different fronts, be it offshore, at the local Islands or along the coast. Take advantage of the opportunity presented by the summer season! 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.
Red Rooster III photo