Offshore waters see an increase in pelagic fish within one-day range

SAN DIEGO—Offshore anglers are seeing more and more pelagic fish move into offshore waters within easy one day range of Point Loma and the offshore angling possibilities in local waters now include bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail, dorado and striped marlin. There was also some news that would give Southern California anglers reason to hold out some hope of having some albacore move into local offshore waters at some point during the 2019 fishing season.

            The albacore news is distant but gives reason to think some albacore could be on a more southerly path this season and the more southerly path might lead them into Southern California or Northern Baja offshore waters. The first news about albacore came from the Western Fishboat Owners Association website. The June 20 post was a report that the waters off Oregon were cooler than normal – 59 degrees. The report indicated the albacore fishing was scratchy off Oregon at the time in that a couple of boats had passed through the area and had picked up five and seven albacore.

The second bit of news comes by way of a professional captain in San Diego. He reported a commercial boat was returning to San Diego from the mid-Pacific with 40 albacore troll fish, all caught while fishing about 600 miles southwest of San Diego. The catch was made in the same latitude block as Guadalupe Island. Time will tell if we will see albacore within one day range of San Diego in 2019 but the cooler water off the coast of Oregon and the fact some albacore were caught 600 miles to the southwest of San Diego gives one reason to hope the species are on a more southerly track than what we have seen in recent years.

For the time being though there are plenty of fish around to keep an offshore angler very busy with bluefin, yellowfin and yellowtail having been around and biting and with some dorado and striped marlin just starting to show. No striped marlin have been hooked as of yet but on June 22 Relentless out of H&M Landing made the first local dorado catch (that I know of) of the season; the 15 anglers aboard an overnight trip caught 52 yellowtails, six dorado, five bluefin and four yellowfin.

The best zone for the offshore tuna fishing is currently within 40 miles of Point Loma for boats fishing areas such as the waters outside of the 230 Spot, the area to the west and southwest of the 371 Bank and the area around and outside of the Upper Hidden Bank. Over the past weekend most of the action was coming from an area spread from 30 to 40 miles 192 to 224 degrees from Point Loma.

Some sportboat counts from June 23 starts with Seaforth Sportfishing. San Diego had a full-day trip with 40 anglers catch 20 bluefin. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Aztec fishing an overnight trip with 25 anglers who caught 16 bluefin and one yellowtail.

Fisherman’s Landing reported Liberty ran a full-day trip with 39 anglers who caught 15 bluefin and two yellowfins.

Point Loma Sportfishing reported New Lo-An was out on a 1.5-day trip and posted a count of 19 bluefin tuna, 78 yellowtails and one yellowfin.

H&M Landing reported Relentless fished an overnight trip with 17 anglers catching 64 yellowtails. Old Glory’s overnight trip with 36 anglers came back with 12 bluefin, two yellowtails and one yellowfin. H&M Landing also had a full-day trip on Vendetta with 12 anglers who caught four bluefin.

The bluefin tuna have ranged in size from 20 to 200+ pounds with most falling within the 60- to 90-pound range. Bluefin schools have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, kelp paddies and spots of breaking, breezing, foaming or puddling fish. Yellowfin tuna have ranged in size from 12 to 50 pounds with most falling within the 15- to 25-pound range. Yellowfin have been biting from blind trolling strikes, sonar marks, meter marks, spots of breaking, breezing or puddling fish and from fishing around porpoise schools. Kelp paddies have been producing the yellowtail and Dorado. Most of the yellowtails have been 12- to 15-pound fish.

Once located, bluefin have been biting on fly-lined sardines, kite fished sardines, sardines fished with torpedo sinkers, poppers, surface iron and flat fall jigs. If you have room for all the tackle, it works out well to carry live bait outfits with fluorocarbon leaders ranging from 30-pound to 100-pound test to be able to adjust your tackle selection based on how aggressive the bluefin are and how big the fish happen to be in the school of fish you are working. A 25-pound test outfit would also be nice to carry for kelp paddie yellowtail, Dorado and yellowfin.

Private boater Bill Parker of Cabo fished on June 21 and reported finding good kelp paddie yellowtail action while fishing between the 425 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank. Parker reported the three anglers aboard caught nine of the 12- to 15-pound yellowtail while working from 25 to 39 miles 183 to 187 degrees from Point Loma. Once he arrived at the Upper Hidden Bank, Parker started seeing lots of spots of breaking bluefin tuna. He said they worked one spot of breaking bluefin after the next and could not get them to bite their baits and lures.

Private boater, Capt. Maurice Smith of Dos Hermanos reported fishing at the Upper Hidden Bank area on June 22. Smith reported seeing lots of spots of breaking bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna but said the fish were not very interested in biting for them. They tried a wide variety of baits and lures and were able to hook one bluefin biting on a fly-lined mackerel. Unfortunately, the circle hook pulled out of the bluefin tuna’s mouth during the fight and the fish was lost.

Smith passed along a report of a marlin baited by a boat in the tuna fleet at the Upper Hidden Bank on June 22. Another report of a marlin sighting was the next day.

Private boater Floyd Sparks of Tuna Kahuna fished with his son Dillon, 15, and friend Nate, 16, aboard on June 23. Sparks reported they had an epic day of bluefin fishing. Sparks went to an area outside of the 230 Spot where there was not much boat traffic and where there had been some good numbers of bluefin reported to be showing the day before. That move paid off in a big way as they found an area with lots of bluefin tuna with very few boats around and were able to catch their limits of 80- to 90-pound bluefin. Sparks said that the bluefin were puddling around on the surface early in the day. The schools of bluefin became more active as the day progressed and started showing in the way of spots of foaming fish after 2:00 PM. Sparks said at one point he was looking at 6 spots of foaming bluefin that were up crashing on the surface at the same time.

Sparks said they caught one bluefin on a double trouble kite fished live sardine, caught another on a drifted mackerel and caught the other four bluefin on poppers and surface iron. He said two of the bluefin bit on poppers that were laying still and floating on the surface of the water. Sparks also described an awesome foamer spot of bluefin they stopped on where the bluefin ended up chasing the bait they were feeding on under their boat. The bluefin had the bait pushed up against the boat and he said that there were bluefin bouncing off the hull as they were chasing the bait around. This incredible action was had while fishing off the 230 Spot in an area spread between 30 miles 222 degrees from Point Loma and 31 miles 224 degrees from Point Loma.

The surface fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been producing a mix of yellowtail, barracuda, bonito and calico bass. There has also been very good fishing for an assortment of reds, rockfish and whitefish along with an occasional lingcod.

Productive areas for the surface fishing around Los Coronado Islands have been the weather side of North Island, the area into the east of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the area inside of the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. Of all those areas, the region of the Middle Grounds seems to be most consistent for the surface fishing.

Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a full-day trip with 15 anglers; they caught 47 yellowtails, one calico bass and one barracuda. Grande was out of H&M Landing fishing a full-day trip with 20 anglers who caught 36 yellowtails, seven barracuda and one calico bass.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, barracuda, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with an occasional bonus halibut or lingcod. The yellowtail fishing along the San Diego County coast remains scratchy.

The best zone for a chance at finding some barracuda action has been in the area of the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma and along the edges of the kelp off the Point Loma Lighthouse and the Dropoff. For your reference, the Dropoff is located a short way above the Point Loma Lighthouse.

Calico bass have been active and biting in several kelp bed areas. Boats fishing the Point Loma Kelp Beds have been finding some calicos biting at the kelp off the Lighthouse, at the Dropoff and along the kelp beds between the Green Tank and the Round House at Sunset Cliffs. Further up the coast, Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports good calico bass fishing while fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Leucadia. Cacciola reports that the best baits for the calicos have been anchovies and Hookup Bait plastics and he suggests using a .25 ounce split shot when fishing an anchovy.

Productive rockfish areas off the San Diego County coast include the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.

The fishing at San Clemente Island has seen a good mix of yellowtail, calico bass, barracuda and assorted bottom fish biting. The yellowtail bite fluctuates from day to day with some days of very good yellowtail action and some days when the yellows are not as cooperative.

There has been squid around San Clemente Island. Pyramid Cove has been producing squid for bait at night. The cove is also producing an occasional white sea bass and some nice sized yellowtail. Try for sea bass and yellowtail at the squid area in Pyramid Cove and some yellowtail have also been biting along the ridges outside of Pyramid Cove in the 18 to 25 fathom depths. The front side of the Island has also seen some yellowtail, calico bass and a few barracuda biting at spots between Purse Seine Rock and Gold Bluff.

Catalina Island has been producing some days of good mixed bag surface fishing for a mix of calico bass and barracuda along with some flurries of yellowtail action and an occasional white sea bass. Areas providing a chance at finding some surface fishing action have been while fishing along the backside of the Island off Little Harbor, Orange Rocks, Salta Verde, The V’s and Church Rock. Spots along much of the front side of the Island have also been producing some surface fishing action while fishing legal waters ranging from the Rock Quarry on up to Black Point. Spots along the front side of the middle part of the Island have been the best in recent days.

There has been a bit of squid to catch for bait at night off Ben Weston but most of the squid boats are currently fishing for squid at Pyramid Cove at San Clemente Island. Once they catch squid at night, some of the squid boats have been running over to Catalina Island to offer it for sale to private boaters. Private boaters should try to raise squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.

The summer fishing season is officially here and the number of warm water pelagic species in local waters is increasing with the recent arrival of dorado and striped marlin to join with the bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail that have been holding in local offshore waters. The big question is if albacore might be getting ready to arrive in local offshore waters and join the party. 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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