SAN DIEGO—We are well into the 2020 Southern California summer fishing season and the offshore fishing remains good for a mix of bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail and Dorado. Things are getting even better on the offshore fishing front with striped marlin entering the picture in a significant way over the past weekend. With yellowtail, calico bass and bonito biting well around some of the offshore Islands and with lots of rockfish biting along the San Diego County coast, there are lots of species for anglers to choose from in planning their day of fishing.
Bluefin continue to get much of the attention with jumbo sized fish to 250-plus pounds a possibility. Yellowfin have been running from 18 to 60 pounds with most in the 20- to 35-pound range. Most of the yellowtail have been in the 8- to 20-pound range with the Dorado running from 5 to 15 pounds.
The best area for a chance at the jumbo sized 80- to 250-plus pound bluefin has been while fishing spots off the back side of San Clemente Island with the area of the 381 Spot and the 59 Fathom Spot producing some action as well as spots further up toward the western part of the Island while fishing outside of Seal Cove and West Cove. The jumbo sized bluefin have been moving westerly and northwesterly and there are now additional reports of big bluefin being found off San Nicolas Island, the Osborn Bank and outside of the back side of Catalina.
Closer to San Diego there has been good to very good fishing for a mix of 20- to 50-pound bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail and an occasional Dorado for boats fishing some of the local offshore banks outside of Los Coronado Islands. Productive areas include the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the Corner, the 302 Spot, the 371 Bank and the 425 Bank. Additional areas that have been producing more sporadic catches of tuna, yellowtail and an occasional dorado have been the 9 Mile Bank, 43 Fathom Spot,181 Spot and 289 Spot. One of the best areas over the past weekend was for boats fishing the region of the 224 Spot while working from 18 to 25 miles 230 to 245 degrees from Point Loma. Some near limit to limit catches of bluefin tuna came from the region of the 224 Spot over the weekend.
The larger sized bluefin have been located by finding spots of breaking, breezing or foaming fish, meter marks, sonar marks and occasional trolling strikes. The big bluefin have bit well on kite fished drifted frozen flying fish and live mackerel. Additional action has been coming on kite trolled Yummy Flyers, drifted sardines, surface iron and Flat Fall jigs.
The 25- to 50-pound bluefin and the yellowfin have been found by locating spots of breaking fish, meter marks, sonar marks, porpoise schools and trolling strikes. Once located, they have been biting on sardines, mackerel, surface iron, poppers, Colt Snipers and Flat Fall jigs. When targeting any size tuna, fishing live baits deep with a rubber band attached torpedo sinker will sometimes produce action when flylined baits are not producing.
Capt. Scott Meisel of the six-pack charter yacht Intrigue out of Fisherman’s Landing also owns and operates the sportboat Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing. Meisel reported about fishing a recent full day trip aboard Intrigue. His report was of finding wide open bluefin tuna fishing and said that his 6 anglers caught their limits of bluefin tuna before noon. He said that all the bluefin came from one long bait stop while fishing the region of the Kidney Bank where the 302 Spot and the 224 Spot are located. He said that after limiting on bluefin that they left biting fish so they could do some looking around for yellowtail, yellowfin and marlin. Meisel says they offer charters and some open party 6 pack trips on Intrigue and you can get more information at their web site at: https://www.intrigueluxurycharters.com.
Private boater Robert Serdoz of Lucky Charm fished a recent solo trip to the area inside of the 224 Spot and reported catching four of the 25- to 40-pound yellowfin tuna out of 8 hookups. Serdoz said all the fish bit on sardines and that they came from one long stop that started from drifting alongside of some puddling fish that he found under working birds. This action was found while fishing inside of the 224 Spot at 19 miles 235 degrees from Point Loma.
Marlin fishing has picked up in a significant way around the East End of Catalina with what I estimate to be five striped marlins caught and released over the past weekend and with one boat catching and releasing two marlins on Aug. 2. Most of the action came from blind jig strikes but there were some feeders and tailers seen as well. The two best areas were the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina and the area around the 50 fathom curve outside of Church Rock. There was an additional report of several marlin being seen off the Salta Verde area of Catalina over the weekend as well.
In the San Diego area, there were pair of tailing marlin reported to have been seen outside of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank on Sunday but as far as I know, there were no marlin releases from the San Diego area over the weekend.
The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has not been receiving much attention lately because of the good tuna fishing in local offshore waters. There has been very little in the way of reports available about the fishing around the Islands but a recent report was of good fishing for yellowtail for a boat fishing the Pukey Point area of North Island. The same Skipper also reported having caught a few yellowtail while fishing around South Island. In recent weeks, the best yellowtail method for private boaters has been slow trolling with sardines.
A Los Coronado Islands report from the week prior came from Capt. Scott Meisel of the six-pack charter yacht Intrigue out of Fisherman’s Landing. Meisel was out on a full day trip and reported finding excellent calico bass fishing with the 6 anglers aboard catching their limits of calico bass. The red-hot calico bass bite was found while fishing the kelp beds below South Island.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast got hit by another influx of cold water which has once again slowed the surface fishing at the kelp beds. A few weeks ago, the water temperature abruptly fell from the low 70’s down to the low 60’s but it warmed back up into the high 60’s just to have it once again fall back down into the low 60’s and high 50’s. There has been some recent warming of the water back into the low to middle 60’s but the surface fishing in the kelp beds has yet to rebound.
Most boats fishing San Diego area coastal areas have been focused on fishing for rockfish until the water conditions stabilize and the surface fishing in the kelp beds improves. The fishing for an assortment of rockfish at various hard bottom areas has been good. Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that they have been finding a lot of reds in the mix within their catches of rockfish while fishing hard bottom areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach.
Productive hard bottom rockfish areas along the San Diego County coast include the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, Point Loma College, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad and Box Canyon.
The summer fishing season has a lot to offer and Southern California anglers have many good options be it fishing offshore, at the local islands or along the coast. Keep on fishing and I hope to see you out on the water sometime soon!
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.