San Diego Offshore Fishing Season Produces November Action

By: Bob Vanian

November is here — and there are still yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack and yellowtail biting for boats fishing areas within what are considered to be one-day trip distances from Point Loma.

In recent years, we have not seen this type of offshore fishing this late in the year. But this season has not seen much in the way of northern weather systems moving through Southern California, and the water temperatures have remained relatively warm offshore. At press time, the water temperatures where the fish are being found are still nice and warm, running from 67 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit.

The numbers of yellowfin and dorado in the catch are down from what they were a few weeks ago, but the yellowtail catches remain very strong — and there are enough yellowfin tuna and dorado around and biting to keep things very interesting.

What has been exciting is that some of the yellowfin that have been biting lately have been nice-sized fish in the 50-pound class. The dorado are quality-size fish that continue to run from 10 to 20 pounds, and the yellowtail have been ranging from 3 to 12 pounds. When you add all this together, there is still good reason to be enthused about making a trip to the offshore fishing grounds.

The fish are still spread out over a large area. Boats have been finding action while fishing from 40 to 60 miles, 170 to 210 degrees from Point Loma.

Some specific productive spots within that zone include the Upper Hidden Bank, the Lower Hidden Bank, the 390 Bank, the 213 Bank, the top of the 1010 Trench, the Upper 500 Bank and the area of the 480 Spot located above the Inner Bank outside of Ensenada, Mexico.

Boats fishing on 1.5-day trips have generally been fishing the offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett, and they continue to find very good fishing for a mix of yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack and yellowtail. Skippers have been reporting finding action down this way while working between 100 and 120 miles, 157 to 160 degrees from Point Loma.

In recent days, there has been some near-limit to limit yellowfin tuna fishing. However, on the most recent trips, the average yellowfin catches have numbered one to two per angler.

Some people have made the mistake of putting up their fishing gear for the season, but there are still some anglers who are going out and getting in on impressive late-season action.

Capt. Chuck Taft of Sea Adventure II, out of H&M Landing, has been running overnight trips to the tuna grounds, and he has regularly been reporting limits of yellowtail, along with a mix of yellowfin tuna, dorado and skipjack. On his most recent trip, Nov. 3, he reported limits of yellowtail, four yellowfin tuna, six skipjack and a dorado while fishing the region of the Upper 500 Bank.

Taft has been regularly been working areas such as the Upper 500 Bank, the Lower Hidden Bank and the area above the Inner Bank, on recent trips. He says that his anglers have had a great time, catching lots of fish. He has overnight trips scheduled to depart each night out of H&M Landing, and he will continue to run offshore if he gets enough people to go.

Private boater Mike Kraus of Black Jack fished a recent trip out of Marina Coral in Ensenada and reported catching two yellowfin tuna, a dorado and 25 yellowtail. Kraus reported finding the biting fish in 67.5-degree water.

He said that they had their best action while fishing up above the 480 Spot at 58 miles, 170 degrees from Point Loma. Kraus also reported that a friend on another boat had seen some action on 20-pound-class yellowtail while working spots of breaking fish by North Todos Santos Island.

Marty, of the private boat Webfoot, reported about fishing a recent trip around the Upper 500 Bank and the area of the 480 Spot. He reported starting out the day by catching three yellowfin tuna while working near the 480 Spot — 56 miles, 174 degrees from Point Loma.

His three tuna came from a single jig stop and a double jig strike that both occurred shortly after daylight. He also reported finding lots of small yellowtail under the kelp paddies he found while working from the Upper 500 Bank to the

Upper Hidden Bank. He was finding a lot of productive kelp paddies within this zone — between 40 miles, 189 degrees and 55 miles, 182 degrees from Point Loma.

There has also been a late-season showing of marlin at some of the local offshore areas, where the boats have been fishing for tuna, yellowtail and dorado.

Taft has been reporting seeing marlin almost every day while working around the Lower 500 Bank and the area above the Inner Bank. There have also been marlin reported around the 302 Spot, the area halfway between the 302 Spot and North Island, the 371 Bank and the 390 Bank.

Private boater Ken Yasuda of Encounter reported catching a striped marlin Nov. 3. It weighed in at 228 pounds at Dana Landing in Mission Bay. The marlin was caught by angler Shane Hurt while fishing in 67-to 67.5- degree water by the 390 Bank — 43 miles, 209 degrees from Point Loma.

The fish was caught by baiting a sleeper with a mackerel, but it was a reluctant biter, at first. When they first baited it, the fish sank out and did not bite. Yasuda said that they resumed their trolling, boxed the area and got a dorado jig strike on a marlin jig. While they were fighting the dorado, the marlin decided to come up again — and this time, it bit on one of the two mackerel that were cast its way.

The jumbo striped marlin took two hours, 15 minutes to land on 40-pound test line. Yasuda said it was a tough-fighting fish that never jumped and did not want to be led.

It was the only marlin they saw that day, but they did have a good amount of other action. They caught 12 10- to 18-pound dorado and found lots of small yellowtail biting under kelp paddies.

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 still lots of squid available to be caught for bait at the area below the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach and at Del Mar.

Boats up and down the San Diego coast have been using squid for bait while fishing hard-bottom, kelp bed and structure areas — and it has been resulting in some very good action.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star, out of Helgren’s Sportfishing, reported using fresh-dead and fresh-frozen squid for bait on recent trips, and they have had a nice mix of calico bass, sand bass, sheephead and rockfish biting.

The kelp bed areas off Leucadia and Solana Beach have been productive spots, and Cacciola reported that they have had great conditions with clean green 66-degree water along the edges of the kelp beds. Cacciola also reported that the half-day open party trips out of Helgren’s Sportfishing have been doing well on reds, sculpin and assorted rockfish while fishing hard-bottom areas outside of Box Canyon.

The 2012 offshore fishing season has been a good one — and it is still with us in November. Take advantage of the good fishing we are being blessed with, while the fish are still around and biting.

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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