December Yellowfin Tuna is a Southern California Reality in 2015

This offshore fishing season continues to amaze Southern California anglers as the warmer than normal water conditions of the El Niño of 2015 have provided yellowfin tuna right through Thanksgiving and into December. These warm water fish are usually long gone at this time of year. It is a rare treat to be able to catch them while fishing within 15 to 30 miles of Point Loma during late November and into the month of December. How long these fish will stay around is anybody’s guess but the cold northern storms recently passing through Southern California have yet to cool the water enough to send them away.

Yellowfin tuna are the highlight fish still around and biting in good numbers but there are also still a few dorado biting to go with skipjack and some occasional marlin activity. Most of the offshore kelp paddie yellowtail are the small throwback sized fish with coastal areas offering a better chance at catching a quality sized yellowtail.

Most of the yellowfin tuna action were found while fishing areas within 15 to 30 miles from Point Loma while working in the vicinity of banks such as the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot, the182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot and in the area out 6 to 10 miles west to west-northwest of North Island. The yellowfin tuna action came from kelp paddies, trolling strikes, porpoise schools, meter marks and sonar marks. Skipjack trolling strikes are at times also producing good yellowfin tuna action on live bait after the skipjack trolling strike. 

The yellowfin have been mixed size fish ranging from 5 to 40 pounds with most falling within the 8- to 15-pound range. The water temperature where the yellowfin are being caught has been running from 65.5 to 67.5 degrees. Anchovies have generally been the best live bait for the yellowfin tuna but there have also been recent reports of success on yellowfin while using live sardines.

Private boater Marcus Hale of Old Blue reported about fishing a recent trip with a group of kids aboard and said the 5 anglers aboard caught limits of yellowfin tuna (25 yellowfin tuna) while fishing inside of the 302 Spot.

Private boater Harry Okuda of Alfresco III reported about fishing a recent three-quarter day trip aboard the six-pack charter yacht Reel Champion out of H&M Landing. He reported lots of action, with five anglers catching 20 yellowfin tuna, 1 dorado and 8 skipjack. Okuda said they were working an area several miles to the south of the 302 Spot at around 27 miles 220 degrees from Point Loma and their yellowfin tuna came from two bait stops found while fishing a kelp paddie around a porpoise school. Their dorado was caught on live bait while drifting around a floating log. Okuda said their yellowfin were football sized fish in the 8- to 13-pound range.

There are a few marlin still around with encounters recently reported by boats fishing the tuna grounds outside of San Diego. Okuda said he saw a jumper striped marlin at the 9 Mile Bank while his charter was on its way home from the tuna grounds. He said Reel Champion also saw a striped marlin around some porpoise while fishing to the south of the 302 Spot one day earlier.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been producing a few nice sized yellowtail along with a mix of sand bass, calico bass, bonito, assorted rockfish and an occasional white seabass. The yellowtail attracted most of the attention. Most of the yellowtail have been caught while fishing hard bottom areas in the lower half of the water column. Spots producing yellowtail action have been the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon. Most of the yellowtail are found deep via scanning sonar or a fathometer and then fished with yo-yoed iron. The two exceptions have been the upper end of La Jolla and Del Mar where there have also been some showings of yellowtail on the surface.

The tremendous 2015 offshore fishing season continues to produce unseasonably good fishing. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to get out on the water and do some local December yellowfin tuna fishing while they are still around and biting. 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 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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