SAN DIEGO — As if on cue, the Fourth of July week brought some big numbers of yellowfin tuna into Southern California offshore waters. The Fourth of July week has traditionally been considered the time period when albacore arrive off the Southern California coast. That hasn’t happened in a few years, however. Anglers, meanwhile, are happily accepting yellowfin tuna as a substitute until schools of albacore once again pay us a visit.
Other big bites out there for offshore anglers include bluefin tuna, yellowtail and a few dorado (found under some of the offshore kelp paddies). Productive areas on the offshore fishing grounds are currently the 371 Bank, 425 Bank, 302 Spot, 224 Spot, the Corner, the 43 Fathom Spot, the 182 Spot and the 9 Mile Bank.
There are also tuna reported 4 to 8 miles off the coast between Mission Bay and La Jolla as well as between the 43 Fathom Spot and San Clemente Island. A few tuna are also just starting to show at some offshore areas that are a bit further north such as the 181 Spot and the Carlsbad Canyon.
Some fish counts were posted on July 8 start with H&M Landing. Malihini had a full-day trip with 12 anglers and returned to shore with 60 bonito, 15 yellowtails, 7 yellowfin tuna and two bluefin tuna.
Fisherman’s Landing had Condor return home from a 1.5-day trip that fished on July 7and had 23 anglers catch four bluefin, eight yellowfin and six yellowtails. They also had Pacific Queen fishing on a weekend two-day trip with 32 anglers and returned with one opah, one yellowfin tuna, three bluefin tuna and 216 yellowtails.
Seaforth Sportfishing had the six-pack charter yacht El Gato Dos fish a morning half-day trip with four anglers; they caught 12 yellowfin tuna. On their afternoon trip, they had three anglers catch four yellowfin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Prowler fishing an overnight trip with 34 anglers; they caught two yellowfin, five bluefin and 52 yellowtails. On July 7, Seaforth Sportfishing had New Seaforth out on an afternoon half-day trip with 36 anglers catching six bluefin tuna.
Point Loma Sportfishing had update from New Lo-An having a 200-pound bluefin tuna on board and was still fishing.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about fishing for tuna out of Mission Bay on July 7. Golding reported fishing outside of Los Coronado Islands around and about banks such as the 425 Bank, 371 Bank and the 302 Spot. The best looking zone, according to his report, was where they found lots of spots of breezing jumbo sized bluefin tuna while fishing several miles to the west of the 302 Spot. He said they tried everything they had to get the bluefin to bite but they had no luck in getting them to go.
Private boater Sam Minervini who does a lot of fishing aboard his sailboat Sail Fish reported starting his day of fishing at Los Coronado Islands on July 6. He said they caught and released some bonito and barracuda but were finding the yellowtail fishing to be slow. Minervini decided to head offshore to try for tuna and it was a great decision as he got a quadruple trolling strike and a double trolling strike on 15- to 30-pound yellowfin tuna. They boated five of the six hookups and he said four of their fish were in the 20- to 30-pound range and one was a 15-pounder. Minervini found the yellowfin tuna action while fishing about 6 miles outside of South Island.
Private boater Marcus Hale of Old Blue reported about a trip he made on July 8, aboard he friend Bruce’s boat McPaddy. Hale said they fished the area of the 9 Mile Bank, 182 Spot, Corner and 43 Fathom Spot and hooked a “monster” bluefin at the 43 Fathom Spot that bit on a kite trolled Yummy Flyer. They fought the jumbo-sized bluefin for more than an hour and got it to within 50 feet of the boat when the rod broke and the fish was lost in heartbreaking fashion. They ended up finding some more bluefin activity on the way home to Point Loma while outside of the 9 Mile Bank and caught a small bluefin on iron before heading for home.
The bluefin have been biting from stopping on spots of breaking fish, sonar marks and meter marks and there have also been strikes on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. Strikes from bluefin have also been coming from drifted sardines, slow trolled mackerel, surface iron, poppers and flat fall jigs. Yellowfin have been biting on the troll, from kelp paddies, porpoise schools and from stopping on spots of breaking fish. Sardines, Megabait style jigs, poppers and surface iron have been effective for the yellowfin.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands continues to be outstanding for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass. Boats have been finding good action while fishing several areas with good recent reports coming from the area between the outside of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and North Island, Pukey Point at North Island, the area between North Island and the Flats outside of the Bull Ring, the Keyhole at the south tip of North Island, the Middle Grounds and the South Kelp Ridge.
It has been epic yellowtail fishing most days and the yellows have been located by finding meter marks, sonar marks and spots of fish under working birds. Trolling has been another good way to locate yellowtail with trolling strikes coming on Rapalas and on slow trolled sardines. Once located, yellowtails have been biting on flylined sardines and surface iron with sardines being the best. The yellows have been running from 6 to 25 pounds, with the majority of the fish in the 7- to 16-pound range.
Fish counts from the fishing on July 8 start with Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing that ran a full-day trip with 44 anglers who caught 129 yellowtails and 33 bonito. San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing ran a full-day trip with 42 anglers who caught 139 yellowtails and 15 bonito. Point Loma Sportfishing had Mission Belle fishing a full-day trip with 24 anglers who caught 108 yellowtails and 20 bonito. H&M Landing had Grande fishing a full-day trip with 38 anglers who caught 25 yellowtaisl, four bonito and two barracuda. H&M Landing also had Malihini fishing a full-day trip that fished offshore waters near Los Coronado Islands with 12 anglers catching their limits of 60 bonito, 15 yellowtails, seven yellowfin and two bluefin.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin and rockfish. There have also been flurries of action on bonito and barracuda along with an occasional bonus yellowtail, halibut or white sea bass.
The best chance at bonito and legal sized barracuda has been from fishing spots of fish found under working tern birds. There has been barracuda action found in an area about 2 miles below the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma as well as around the International Reef just above the Mexico border. The best bonito bite area has been while fishing a short way above the Mexico border at the 9 Mile Bank.
Kelp bed areas up and down the San Diego County coast have been very good for calico bass and have also been producing a few sand bass. Fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to hard bottom and structure spots has been best for a chance at a halibut.
Look for an occasional bonus yellowtail while fishing kelp bed spots outside of the upper end of La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn and San Onofre. The Imperial Beach Pipeline has produced an occasional yellowtail as well. Of all these areas, the upper end of La Jolla has provided the best chance at catching a coastal yellowtail.
Private boater Robert Serdoz of Lucky Charm fished with his daughter aboard on July 8 and reported about the trip. Serdoz said they started the day fishing for rockfish at hard bottom spots around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and caught a dozen rockfish. After fishing for rockfish, Serdoz went down to Imperial Beach to look for spots of working tern birds in the hope of finding some bonito or barracuda. He did not see any working tern birds and ended up going to the Imperial Beach Pipeline where they found some sand bass biting around the structure of the pipeline. They caught several sand bass before calling it a day to head for home.
Capt. Kevin Cibulka of the six-pack charter yacht Lady Grace with San Diego Charters reported targeting bonito on July 7. Cibulka fished the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank above the Mexico border and reported success in finding lots of biting bonito. He had success both while fishing on the 9 Mile Bank proper and while fishing a short way inside of the 9 Mile Bank. Cibulka was finding the bonito action by getting trolling strikes and at the time of his report had just had a trolling stop that resulted in four bonito while fishing inside of the 9 Mile Bank.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that they have been enjoying excellent calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. Cacciola said there have been a lot of short sized calico bass in the mix that must be released, but there have been a pretty good number of legal sized calicos being caught as well.
Cacciola reports the water temperature is running from 71 to 72 degrees and the water color varies from an off color green to a clean green color. They have had 4.5-inch anchovies in their bait supply lately and the anchovies have worked very well for the calico bass.
The calicos have also been biting well on Hookup Bait plastics. Cacciola said they have been having good luck using the 3/8-ounce or the 1/2-ounce size Hookup Bait plastics on 12 to 15-pound test line. Some of the best colors are anchovy, sardine and a light chartreuse color. Most of the bites on the Hookup Bait plastics have been coming while the jig is sinking.
The summer fishing season is in full swing and there is excellent fishing to be found be it offshore at the Islands or along the coast. I hope you can get on the water 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 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.
Photo Credit: Pacific Queen Sportfishing