The first arrival of bluefin tuna in Southern California waters to kick off the 2016 offshore fishing season coincided with the first few days of spring but it was unknown as to whether it was just a few scattered fish starting to show or if there was a large enough body of fish moving in that would provide some good and consistent fishing. The answer is bluefin tuna have indeed arrived in good numbers and can be found from the 60 Mile Bank on up to the 267 Spot outside of Dana Point.
The bluefin out at the 60 Mile Bank have been consistent biters. In addition to the good bite at the 60 Mile Bank other areas producing scattered catches of bluefin tuna have been the 43 Fathom Spot, the 224 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 9 Mile Bank, the 181 Spot, the 312 Spot, the 209 Spot, the 267 Spot and the area 8 to 13 miles off the coast between Oceanside and Dana Point. The bluefin found at these areas are within 35 miles or so of the coast tend to be the bigger sized fish than those out at the 60 Mile Bank, with most in the 30- to 50-pound range.
If you have it available I suggest bringing bait outfits with line ranging in size from 15- to 60-pound test tied with fluorocarbon leaders. I would also bring an assortment of different sized hooks ranging in size from 4 to 3/0. These tackle options would allow you to adjust your tackle to the size of fish you are working, the size of the bait you have to work with and how aggressive those fish might be at any particular time during the day.
The yellowtail fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been pretty good but not up to the level of near limit to limit fishing that was around a couple of weeks ago. As an example of the recent fishing the fish count from the Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing from April 2 was 15 anglers catching 12 yellowtail and 100 rockfish.
Another sign of the spring season: improving numbers of barracuda biting around the Islands and found under working birds in the same areas as yellowtail.
Productive areas for yellowtail in the region of Los Coronado Islands have been the South Kelp Ridge, the Rockpile, the 27 Fathom Spot and the Finger Bank. Sonar marks, meter marks and spots of working birds have been leading to most of the yellowtail action. Birds have generally been a good indicator of yellowtail.
Yellowtail are biting at hard bottom areas along the San Diego County coast with the upper end of La Jolla being the best zone for a chance at a coastal bites. Other hard bottom areas producing an occasional yellowtail include Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Leucadia. The bite is scratchy most days but biting yellowtail are 20- to 35-pound class fish to where one fish can make your day.
There is also some good fishing being reported out of San Clemente Island, with a mix of calico bass and 5- to 10-pound yellowtail around for boats fishing near the structure of the boiler rocks in Pyramid Cove. Flylined sardines and mackerel are reported to be working well for bait while fishing the boiler rocks.
The offshore fishing season has started early! 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.