Rockfish, Bass and Yellowtail Highlight Late November Fishing

By: Bob Vanian

Some northern weather fronts moved through Southern California waters in the middle part of November, and the result was a drop in water temperature that appears to have put an end to the San Diego area offshore fishing season.

Water temperatures have dropped to between 62 and 64.5 degrees at offshore areas within 70 miles or so of Point Loma that were holding yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail (in 67-degree water) earlier in the month. From recent reports, it is apparent that this drop in temperature has sent these species away to areas with warmer water.

Ocean Odyssey out of H&M Landing ran a recent three-day trip and located a big area of mixed yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail in warm water, about 190 miles south of Point Loma. Their count for the three-day trip was 15 anglers catching limits of yellowfin tuna, 10 dorado and 175 yellowtail.

With the local offshore fishing season slowing down, anglers fishing San Diego area waters have been looking to other types of fishing and have been finding some good action on a variety of nearshore species while fishing spots along the San Diego area coast and out around Los Coronados islands. There have not been any sportboats fishing Los Coronados islands due to the unresolved issues with regard to fishing in Mexico, but a few private boaters have given it a try and have found success.

A recent report from a private boater fishing at Los Coronados islands was that they caught an estimated 25- to 30-pound yellowtail while fishing in 70 feet of water near Pukey Point at North Island, during the early morning hours. The same skipper tried fishing the north end of South Island and the Middle Ground during the late morning hours and reported finding the surface fishing to be slow in those areas.

Another report from a private boater fishing around Los Coronados was that the skipper found very good fishing for 2- to 4-pound reds while fishing meter marks that they were finding in about 300 feet of water. They were finding this action while fishing outside of the South Kelp below South Island. The same skipper also reported catching a thresher shark estimated to weigh more than 100 pounds, outside South Island.

Private boater Woody Brickley passed along a report from boater Anthony Long of I C Color, who fished a recent trip to the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank targeting bottomfish. He reported finding excellent fishing for reds and salmon grouper.

They were fishing in Mexico waters and found the hot action in 300 to 335 feet of water. Long was fishing with his friend Freddy Monroe aboard, and they were finding the fish to be biting on strips of frozen squid and on strips of mackerel.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been very good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, lingcod, sheephead, reds and assorted rockfish. There are lots of squid available to be caught for bait at the area below the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach —and this is the zone where most boats fishing out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay have been going to catch their squid.

Other productive squid areas have included the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Boaters have been using live squid, fresh dead squid and fresh frozen squid for bait a lot lately while fishing hard-bottom, kelp beds and structure areas — and the squid baits have been working very well.

There is a bit of surface fishing action from time to time that pops up in the La Jolla region. The area below the Crystal Pier has provided occasional yellowtail activity for anglers fishing the hard-bottom area just below the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) closure zone, in 15 to 19 fathoms of water. There has also been an occasional bonito biting for boats fishing the outside edges of the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla.

Boats fishing out of San Diego Bay have been finding bass and bottomfish biting in a variety of spots, such as the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard-bottom areas below and outside of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and at hard-bottom spots to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma.

At Point Loma some bass and rockfish have been biting at hard-bottom areas outside of the kelp at the Dropoff and outside of the kelp at the Green Tank.

Boats fishing out of Mission Bay have generally been finding action while fishing hard-bottom and kelp bed areas in the La Jolla and Pacific Beach region. The hard-bottom area off Pacific Beach — in 15 to 19 fathoms of water — has been productive while fishing below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla. This area has been productive for bass, rockfish and an occasional yellowtail.

Hard-bottom areas off the upper-middle part of La Jolla and off the upper end of La Jolla have also been productive for bottomfish. The edges of the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla have also been productive and have been providing an assortment of rockfish and bass, along with an occasional bonito.

Going farther up the coast, hard-bottom and kelp bed areas outside of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Leucadia have been producing an assortment of bottomfish and a few bass. Also, look for some bass and sculpin to be biting at the Buccaneer Pipeline and at the artificial reefs out in front of Oceanside Harbor.

Rockfish and sculpin have also been biting at hard-bottom areas outside of Box Canyon, for anglers fishing in 250 to 275 feet of water.

The offshore fish may have moved on until they (hopefully) return in even bigger numbers next year — but there are still plenty of great-eating fish around and biting that are a lot of fun to catch. Do not make the mistake of putting your tackle away during the cool-water months, as there is often a lot of fun fishing to be had.

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 976-Bite at Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the phone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number, or via email at

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