Wintertime yellowtail delight SoCal anglers

Southern California ocean anglers have continued to go fishing between weather systems and the days of good weather continue to produce some fun fishing. The wintertime fishing has produced some unseasonably good action highlighted by catches of yellowtail, which have been biting for boats fishing at La Jolla, at Los Coronado Islands as well as down the Mexican coast outside of Punta Colnett.

An ongoing reminder: the annual two-month rockfish/groundfish closure is in effect in California waters. The fishing for rockfish/groundfish does remains open for those fishing in Mexican waters.

Anglers traveling into Mexican waters to fish Punta Colnett on 1.5-day sportboat trips continue to find some great fishing with a mix of yellowtail, lingcod, reds and an assortment of rockfish biting.

The counts from the past weekend start with Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing. The 35 anglers aboard the 1.5-day trip caught 175 yellowtail and 40 rockfish.  Seaforth Sportfishing had a 1.5-day trip aboard Eclipse with 26 anglers and caught 118 yellowtail, 60 rockfish and 26 lingcod. Chief out of H&M Landing also fished Punta Colnett on a 1.5-day trip on Jan. 23 and had 18 anglers catch 62 yellowtail, 10 bonito, 52 rockfish and 14 lingcod.

Most of the yellowtail at Punta Colnett were 15- to 25-pound fish and yo-yoed iron worked best. Scrambled egg was a productive color yo-yo iron jig and the Salas 7X heavy and the Tady 4/0 jigs have been working well. In addition to yo-yoed iron the yellowtail have also been biting on dropper loop rigs baited with either a live sardine or a live mackerel.

Los Coronado Islands was a productive yellowtail area with sportboats finding near limit to limit yellowtail on the better days of fishing. Most of the near limit to limit catches of yellowtail were made by sportboats that are equipped with scanning sonar. Private boaters equipped with a traditional up and down style of fathometer had a tougher time of it as it has been hit or miss in being able to locate a school of yellowtail with a traditional up and down style fathometer.

Mission Belle of Point Loma Sportfishing was out fishing Los Coronado Islands on a three-quarter day trip on Jan. 24 and had one of the best yellowtail catch trips in recent days with a fish count of 20 anglers catching 80 yellowtail. Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing ran its most recent three-quarter day trip to Los Coronado Islands on Jan. 23 and had a nice mixed bag catch with 19 anglers catching 31 yellowtail, 40 rockfish, one barracuda and eight bonito.

Private boater Capt. Bob Fletcher of Fletch went out fishing to Los Coronado Islands aboard Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing on Jan. 18 and reported about the trip. Fletcher said they had a fun day of yellowtail fishing with 23 anglers on a three-quarter day trip catching 50 yellowtail.

Fletcher said they started the day fishing inside of the northern end of South Island and found some action on the 5- to 10-pound yellowtail. They caught 25 yellowtail from this zone; the seals were a big problem and they lost a lot of hooked yellowtail to the seals. In the afternoon they worked up to the weather side of North Island and ended up getting two good stops on some nicer sized yellowtail in the 14- to 18-pound class. They caught 25 more yellows from those two stops to end up with 50 yellowtail for the day.

Fishing for rockfish remains open in Mexican waters and some good action has been reported around Los Coronado Islands while fishing the hard bottom to the north and the northwest of North Island. Also productive has been the fishing for rockfish at the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while on the Mexico side of the border. Premier out of H&M Landing has been fishing for rockfish at areas out by Los Coronado Islands on weekday morning half-day trips and on their most recent trip had 12 anglers catch 117 rockfish, one sheephead and two lingcod.

Boats out looking for yellowtail along the San Diego County coast have been finding their best action on some quality-sized yellowtail in the La Jolla region. The numbers of yellowtail being caught are not high but they are mostly 20- to 30-pound fish. Spots around the upper end of La Jolla have been the best for the yellowtail while fishing in 18 to 30 fathoms of water and there is an occasional white seabass being caught in the area as well.

The remainder of the San Diego County area coastal fishing has been productive for good numbers of a mixed bag of bass and sculpin along with an occasional halibut.

It is great to have so many options for fishing local waters in the middle of the winter. Just make sure you watch the weather forecast closely and pick the good weather days for your fishing and boating. 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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