Big bluefin tuna biting in U.S. waters!

By: Bob Vanian

The offshore fishing has taken center stage as good numbers of bluefin tuna, including fish in the 150- to 200-pound range, moved into local offshore waters. Bluefin tuna remain illegal to catch in Mexican waters and anglers are pleased to be able to stay in U.S. waters and fish around offshore banks holding good numbers of bluefin. In addition to the bluefin, some yellowfin tuna have started to make their way into local offshore waters and there have been some yellowtail biting under the offshore kelp paddies.

Productive bluefin areas have been the waters around and about the 9 Mile Bank, the 182 Spot, the 43 Fathom Spot, the 181 Spot, the 289 Spot, the 209 Spot and the 312 Spot.  A few yellowfin tuna have been reported around the 43 Fathom Spot and the 209 Spot. The best yellowtail kelp paddie zone has been for boats fishing 4 to 8 miles off the coast between Oceanside and Dana Point.  

The bluefin tuna have been ranging from 20 pounds to fish in the 150- to 200- pound class. The few yellowfin bites have been in the 20- to 40- pound range. Most of the kelp paddie yellowtail caught from local offshore waters has been in the 8- to 20-pound range.

Bluefin have been biting in a variety of ways with kelp paddies, spots of fish found under working tern birds, sonar marks, meter marks, trolling strikes, drifting and slow trolling with nose hooked mackerel or sardines all producing action. A recent pattern has developed with the bluefin tending to like mackerel as well or better than the sardines. One thing nice about fishing with mackerel is that you can usually get bit on heavier tackle than when fishing with a sardine. The heavier tackle increases your chance of success should you hook one of the bigger bluefin.

Capt. Bob Woodard of Christina Lynn fished a recent trip for bluefin tuna and reported catching 5 bluefin tuna in the 20 to 30+ pound class while fishing the deep water between the middle part of the 9 Mile Bank and the 182 Spot.

Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported fishing into the east of the 289 Spot on a recent trip and catching a 30 pound bluefin tuna. Golding said they were only able to fish until 10:30 a.m. and they were starting to see better action as the morning progressed. He thought they could have caught more bluefin if they fished longer. They were seeing a good amount of bluefin under tern birds and with their fathometer but the bluefin would not bite for them until they started to slow troll with live mackerel. They caught the 30 pound bluefin and had 4 short bites on bluefin in about 30 minutes of slow trolling before they had to pull in the lines and head for home. This action was found out at 43 miles 280 degrees from Point Loma.
Another private boater, Jim Cook of Ambusher, fished with private boater Frank Klopp on a recent trip aboard Klopp’s boat Finsanity. Cook reported they caught 2 bluefin tuna while fishing outside of the 43 Fathom Spot at 41 miles 253 degrees from Point Loma. He said they caught their fish by drifting in an area where there was a group of boats drifting around deep meter marks.

The yellowtail fishing around Coronado Islands has slowed in recent days following an influx of cool green water. There has not been much news coming from the Coronados lately as most boats that would ordinarily be fishing around the Coronados have been fishing for bluefin tuna offshore or fishing for yellowtail at La Jolla. Before the Coronado Islands yellowtail bite slowed, the best bets for the yellowtail were fishing 1 to 2.5 miles north of North Island, fishing at Pukey Point at North Island and fishing along the weather side of North Island. Before the bite slowed, the yellows were biting from spots of working birds, meter marks and sonar marks with flylined sardines and surface iron producing most of the action.

The yellowtail fishing at La Jolla has perked up in recent days and has produced some good sized fish that have mostly been in the 15- to 25-pound range. The bite peaked when a recent afternoon half-day trip on New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a catch of 20 anglers catching 1 calico bass and 70 yellowtail.

The La Jolla yellowtail bite slowed down some over the past couple of days with the heavy weekend boat pressure but the bite will hopefully bounce back during the week with fewer boats pounding the area. The spots of Northwest and the Half have been the best while fishing at the upper end of La Jolla. There has also been occasional action reported by boats outside of the outer boundary of the MLPA South La Jolla State Marine Reserve at the lower end of La Jolla.

The rest of the fishing along the San Diego Coast has been producing a few yellowtail off Imperial Beach and has seen mostly rockfish and calico bass biting at various kelp bed and hard bottom areas. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports they found good calico bass fishing with a good percentage of legal-sized fish in the mix while working the kelp beds at Solana Beach and Del Mar. His most recent report was that the calicos were biting well on anchovies, 6-inch sardines, Cotee Plastics and swim bait plastics.

The summer season is here and there are bluefin tuna around that include some fish that are considerably bigger than we normally see in our local offshore waters. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and get an opportunity to tangle with one of the big tuna sometime soon!  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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