Los Coronado Islands Rockfish Biting But Yellowtail Play Hard To Get

By: Bob Vanian

The first part of January brought with it some unseasonably good fishing for large yellowtail at Los Coronado Islands but that all came to a screeching halt on the afternoon of Jan. 20 .The morning of Jan. 20 brought with it some good yellowtail fishing but the afternoon hours saw the water where the yellowtail were biting turn cool and off color. The yellows have played hard to get since that time.

Chubasco II with Chubasco 2 Sportfishing got in on the last of the yellowtail action that morning and had 13 anglers on a three-quarter-day trip catch 14 yellowtail, four whitefish, three reds, one sheephead, and four sculpin, one perch and six rockfish. It was a nice run of 20 to 35 pound yellowtail that lasted nearly three weeks and the good thing is that the bite could turn back on just as suddenly as it shut off.

While anglers fishing around Los Coronado Islands await the resumption of the yellowtail bite, they have been fishing for rockfish and the rockfish fishing has been very good with quite a few limit catches being reported. Private boater Bob Eisenberg of Tuna Tracks fished a recent trip to the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and reported catching three ling cod and limits of rockfish. Eisenberg was fishing in Mexican waters and said they saw no signs of the Mexican patrol boat in the area while they were fishing.

Other productive areas for the rockfish fishing around Los Coronado Islands have been the hard bottom to the north and north-northwest of North Island while fishing in 35 to 50 fathoms of water. Also productive for rockfish have been the ridge areas outside of the Middle Grounds and ridge areas on the outside of the South Kelp Ridge.

The Mexican authorities have been regularly patrolling the waters around and about Los Coronado Islands and have been sending anglers home who have not been in compliance with regulations. From a private boater’s perspective, things to carry for each person aboard are an FMM Immigration Form, a passport and a Mexican Fishing License. The FMM Immigration forms can be obtained at inm.gob.mx. You should also have the boat’s registration paperwork aboard and be able to present an FCC permit for the VHF radio and an FCC permit for the operator of the radio. A new item that I presume should also be added to the list to avoid possible issues recently experienced by private boaters who had their boats impounded while staying at some marinas in Mexico,  is to carry a Temporary Importation Permit for the boat as issued by Mexico Customs.

Boats fishing on 1.5 day trips have been finding excellent bottom fishing while fishing in the Punta Colnett region. Good sized reds and lingcod have been highlighting catches from down this way. A recent 1.5 day trip aboard Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing returned with 29 anglers catching 80 whitefish, 82 reds, four sheephead, 69 rockfish and 56 lingcod.

Those fishing on the United States side of the Mexican border continue to fish under the restrictions imposed by the annual two month rockfish/groundfish closure that remains in effect until March 1, 2014. Anglers have been targeting species that remain open to fishing during the closure period such as calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, yellowtail and halibut.

Hard bottom and structure spots have been productive for the sand bass, sculpin and calico bass. Specific areas that have been productive for the bass and sculpin in San Diego County waters have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom and kelp stringer areas off Imperial Beach, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at the Buoyline at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the NEL Tower off Mission Beach, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and the hard bottom outside of the Barn.

The halibut fishing has been just fair but a few halibut have been biting and a good strategy is to try fishing sandy bottom areas that are adjacent to hard bottom and structure. Spots that produce an occasional halibut are Imperial Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Torrey Pines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor and the Golf Ball. Good live baits for halibut have been small mackerel, sardines and anchovies.

There have been some yellowtail showing outside of the upper end of La Jolla. It has been hard to get them to bite but they are good sized 20 to 30 pound class fish and every once in a while someone is at the right spot at the right time and is able to hook a good sized yellowtail. The best bet has been to look for the yellows around schools of mackerel outside of the upper end of La Jolla in 20 to 40 fathoms of water. Recent hookups have been reported on surface iron and sardines. The showings of yellowtail are erratic but if you are in the area it would be a good idea to have a surface iron outfit set up and ready to go should you be fortunate enough to be at the right spot at the right time when some yellows decide to show.

We have had some great weather and some good fun fishing. Take advantage of the mild winter we have been having and enjoy some winter time angling. 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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