Offshore, Islands and Coastal Fishing Heat Up for Area Anglers

By: Bob Vanian

San Diego area anglers are seeing some of their summertime fishing fronts hit full stride right now. There are lots of fish biting for those venturing offshore, fishing Los Coronados islands or fishing at kelp bed spots along the coast.

Those venturing offshore are still having to travel a long way below San Diego to find good numbers of fish, but there have been lots of yellowtail biting for boats on 1.5-day trips — and may bluefin tuna biting on specially extended 1.5-day or longer trips.

Specifically, boats fishing the offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett have been finding many yellowtail and a few bluefin tuna biting while fishing 105 to 120 miles below Point Loma. Boats fishing the offshore waters below and outside of San Martin Island are finding lots of bluefin tuna biting while fishing 150 to 160 miles below Point Loma.

Yellowtail have been caught from kelp paddies and have been mostly 6- to 12-pound fish. There have been increasing numbers of bigger yellowtail biting under the kelp paddies in recent days, and some of those fish have gone up into the 40-pound class. Most of the bluefin tuna have been in the 20- to 45-pound class and have been caught from sonar marks, kelp paddies, trolling strikes and spots of fish found up and working on the surface. There have been some bluefin tuna bait stops that have lasted for many hours.

The first weekend in July brought some windy weather to the offshore fishing grounds, but the bluefin and yellowtail were biting despite the sloppy weather conditions. The best recent count from the offshore yellowtail grounds below and outside of Punta Colnett was reported by Mark Larson at Seaforth Sportfishing. He reported that Voyager had limits of yellowtail — catching 45 — on a 1.5-day trip with nine anglers aboard.

Capt. Art Taylor of Searcher out of Fisherman’s Landing called in a report to the “Let’s Talk Hookup” radio program from the bluefin tuna grounds below and outside of San Martin Island. Taylor’s 8 a.m. July 1 report was that they were in a bluefin stop and had 30-plus bluefin tuna aboard for their morning of fishing.

They kept catching bluefin throughout the day — and at 3 p.m., Searcher reported having 100 bluefin aboard for the day that were in the 22- to 44-pound range.

Boats fishing offshore waters within one-day range of Point Loma have been scratching out a few yellowtail and reported seeing a few bluefin tuna around some of the offshore banks outside Ensenada — such as the 238 Spot, 450 Spot and 295 Bank.

Most of the reports from private boaters exploring the offshore waters outside of Los Coronados islands and up the Ridge to the area around the 181 Spot say there is not much going on yet. Traditionally, the Southern California local offshore fishing season for waters within one-day range of Point Loma starts after the Fourth of July — and anglers with boats that do not have the range to fish some of these more distant offshore waters are eagerly awaiting a closer-to-home bonanza.

The fishing at Los Coronados islands has been very good for a mix of calico bass, barracuda, yellowtail, rockfish and sculpin. The best spots for surface fishing have been the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp and the Rockpile.

The yellowtail have been good-sized fish, and most have been in the 18- to 30-pound range, with an occasional bigger fish in the mix.

One of the better recent catches of yellowtail reported from Los Coronados islands was aboard Pride out of Seaforth Sportfishing. Its 18 anglers on an overnight trip caught 32 yellowtail, 37 sculpin, one lingcod, 18 barracuda, 75 calico bass and 17 rockfish.

Private boater Bill Davidson of Copout reported fishing at the Middle Grounds on a recent trip. He said those aboard his boat hooked three yellowtail on slow-trolled sardines out of an afternoon bite. They were big tackle-buster yellowtail — and he managed to land a nice 25-pound fish out of three hookups. They had their yellowtail action while fishing in 90 feet of water, and the water was reported to be 68 degrees and blue.

Most of the fishing aboard the sportboats at Los Coronados has been done while the boats are anchored, but private boaters have also reported success with yellowtail and barracuda while slow-trolling nose-hooked sardines.

Some squid has been available to catch for bait at the Flats area, below and outside of the Bull Ring at Tijuana. A good depth for squid has been 12 to 17 fathoms.

Squid are reported to have been caught at night, and they can also sometimes be jigged during the day. Live or fresh-dead squid has been working very well for calico bass in spots such as the Ribbon Kelp, 5 Minute Kelp and South Kelp.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, barracuda and rockfish — and there have also been a few yellowtail and an occasional white seabass in the mix at the upper end of La Jolla.

Some productive kelp bed areas in the Point Loma region have been along the kelp at the 5 Tanks, Lab, Green Tank, Point Loma College and the Round House. These areas have produced good numbers of calico bass and rockfish, along with a few barracuda. Anchovies have been the best bait for calico bass, when available.

La Jolla has been productive for calico bass, barracuda and rockfish, and it has also been producing a few yellowtail and an occasional white seabass. The upper end of La Jolla has been the best for surface fishing.

Try for calicos along the edges of the main kelp bed area, and try for barracuda, yellowtail and white seabass in varied depths off the upper end of La Jolla — ranging from the edges of the main kelp bed to the kelp stringers at Northwest, in 16 fathoms of water.

Squid has been available to be caught for bait at night at the upper end of La Jolla. There have also been reports of squid occasionally being jigged during daylight hours.

Try for white seabass at night and during the early morning in the same area as you might locate the squid. The best zone for the squid and a chance a white seabass has been just outside of the Marine Protected Area closure zone at the upper end of La Jolla.

The kelp beds in North San Diego County have been producing a mix of calico bass, sand bass and rockfish — and they have also been producing a few barracuda. The best fishing has been coming from the kelp beds at Del Mar, Solana Beach and Leucadia.

Up above Oceanside Harbor, there have been calico bass, sand bass and a few barracuda biting, along with an occasional white seabass for boats fishing the edges of the kelp beds at the Barn.

Bob Vanian is the voice, writer and researcher of the San Diego-based Internet fish report service 976-Bite at 976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service at (619) 226-8218. Vanian’s reports can be heard at 8:20 a.m. each Sunday on the “Let’s Talk Hookup” radio show, at 1090 AM. He always welcomes your fish reports at (619) 226-8218.

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