San Diego County based sportboats running again

SAN DIEGO—Today is June 8, 2020, and it is the first day that San Diego County based sportboats have been allowed to run trips following the Covid-19 lockdown closure that forced the area’s sportboat fleet to cease operations. From what I have read so far, things such as face coverings and social distancing will be required while fishing aboard the sportboats. The landings have been stating Covid-19 related policies and requirements on their web sites. Some of the boats within each landing might also have their own policies and requirements so it is best to check out what the landing of your choice and the boat of your choice are requiring before you book your trip.

Some great news is that I can say that things are certainly off and running in good fashion today as Seaforth Sportfishing had an early update from the full day trip aboard San Diego. They are out on their first trip since the lockdown started and they provided a morning update of having 64 yellowtail aboard with lots of fishing time left in the day.

The offshore fishing has been getting most of the recent attention with good fishing for a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail along with a few dorado. Offshore banks located below and outside of Los Coronado Islands have been producing the tuna action and good areas have been while fishing around and about the 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 230 Spot, 425 Bank, 371 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank.

The bluefin tuna have been running to 318 pounds with most in the 100- to 180-pound range. The yellowfin tuna have been going from 20 to 50 pounds and most of the kelp paddie yellowtail have been in the 10- to 20-pound class. There have also been a couple of dorado caught in recent days and the dorado have been in the 5- to 7-pound range.

The Upper Hidden Bank has been one of the best bluefin zones and it provided excellent bluefin fishing for Floyd Sparks of Tuna Kahuna who fished recent back to back trips to the Upper Hidden Bank aboard a friend’s boat. Sparks reported that on the first trip they caught bluefin of 318 pounds, 185 pounds, 180 pounds and 100 pounds with the 318-pound whopper bluefin being caught by Tobin Rippo.

Sparks said they went right back to the Upper Hidden Bank the next day and caught another bluefin tuna that weighed 140 pounds. All their bluefin were caught on kite fished frozen flying fish in areas where they were getting meter marks and seeing spots of puddling fish. For your general reference, the inside high spot at the Upper Hidden Bank is located at 39 miles 182 degrees from Point Loma.

Bluefin have been biting best on drifted kite fished frozen flying fish and have also been biting well on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. An occasional bluefin is also being caught on sardines that are drifted by a kelp paddie or drifted over meter marks. The yellowfin tuna have been biting from meter marks, kelp paddies, spots of working birds, porpoise and an occasional blind trolling strike. Flylined sardines have been best bait for the yellowfin. Rapalas tend to produce the occasional strike on the troll.

The offshore yellowtail have been biting around kelp paddies and there have been a good percentage of fish that have been up in the 15 to 20 pound range. The 371 Bank has produced a couple of early season dorado. One was caught by a diver with a spear gun and the other bit on a flylined sardine.

Los Coronado Islands have not seen much fishing pressure because of the good tuna and yellowtail fishing in local offshore waters but there were some boats that fished around Los Coronado Islands over the past weekend and what was found was that there was good mixed bag fishing for barracuda, calico bass, rockfish and yellowtail.

On the weekend there were barracuda biting at the Lighthouse area at the south tip of South Island and calico bass were biting well at the Middle Grounds. The best area for yellowtail was reported to be while fishing meter marks found along the lee side of South Island.

Private boater Mike Seymour of Sea Section reported about fishing around Los Coronado Islands and finding good mixed bag fishing for calico bass and yellowtail. Seymour started out his day fishing the Pukey Point and the Keyhole areas of North Island and found the fishing to be slow. His next move was to the Middle Grounds where he found very good calico bass fishing in 40 feet of water. The calico bass bite was good enough to where they were able to catch and release over 30 calico bass.

After catching and releasing a bunch of calicos, Seymour’s next move was to try fishing in the lee of South Island where they found some yellowtail meter marks and caught 4 yellowtail that ranged from 15 to 21 pounds. The yellowtail were biting on flylined sardines and they also hooked one yellowtail on the bottom while drifting for halibut. In addition to the 4 yellowtail they boated they had 4 additional lost yellowtail hookups with two of those hooked fish being stolen by seals. Seymour reported getting the yellowtail meter marks while fishing inside of South Island in depths ranging from 30 to 60 feet of water. The water temperature in the area was at 65.6 degrees.

The fishing along the San Diego area coast continues to he highlighted by occasional jumbo-sized yellowtail with some of the yellows being caught going up over the 40-pound mark. No big numbers of the yellowtail are being caught but a lot of anglers have been willing to put in a lot of time in the hope of catching a 40-pound class yellowtail.

Trolled Rapalas have been working best for the coastal yellowtail when trolled at 5.5 knots of speed and the trolled Rapalas have also produced a few 40-pound class white seabass. The yellows have been found in two areas with the Imperial Beach area producing most of the action while fishing a short way above the Mexico border and with some action also being found along the edges of the Point Loma Kelp Beds in an area spread from the Lab to Hill Street. A good depth range has been while fishing in 40 to 80 feet of water.

In addition to yellowtail and white seabass, there have been some barracuda biting from spots of working tern birds being found off Imperial Beach and Point Loma. In addition to marking spots of barracuda, the working tern birds are often indicating areas where one might get a trolling strike on a Rapala from one of the large yellowtail or white seabass. The barracuda have been biting best on flylined sardines and surface iron.

Imperial Beach has been producing an occasional halibut for boats drifting patches of sandy bottom found outside of the Imperial Beach Pier in the 40- to 80-foot depths. Boats fishing outside of Mission Beach have also been catching an occasional halibut while drifting the sandy bottom around the structure of the sunken NEL Tower and the structure of the Yukon shipwreck. Reports coming from La Jolla continue to be of fair to pretty good fishing for a mix of calico bass and rockfish along with an occasional legal sized barracuda.

The late spring fishing has been very good and with the summer season fast approaching one would have reason to think the fishing will continue to improve as the water continues to warm with the change of the seasons. It is great to have such great fishing to target be it offshore, at the islands or along the coast. I hope and pray that you continue to stay healthy, safe and sound. Keep on fishing and please be safe!  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 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

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