Wow what a fishing season we are having in Southern California! We continue to enjoy an excellent fishing season for bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail, skipjack and striped marlin and we now have super exotic species such as wahoo, blue marlin, shortbill spearfish and black marlin arriving in local offshore waters and biting as well.
The warm water El Niño conditions are bringing us game fish species rarely seen in Southern California offshore waters. Wahoo, black marlin, shortbill spearfish and blue marlin fall into this category. Will it end here? I am not so sure it will end here as there is a recent report of sailfish being found around Cedros Island down the Baja coast and it might not be long before sailfish start showing up in our local offshore waters as well. With offshore water temperatures currently in the 74- to 76-degree-plus range anything could happen.
The area of good offshore tuna fishing is still spread far and wide with bluefin tuna and a few yellowfin tuna biting at the Osborn Bank by Santa Barbara Island and with yellowfin tuna, skipjack, dorado and yellowtail biting well at spots such as the Cortes Bank, the area between the end of the Steamer Lane and the 277 Spot in the Catalina Channel, in the area of deep water between the 267 Spot and the 209 Spot, in the area of deep water between the 209 Spot and the 312 Spot, at the end of the Ridge above the 181 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 371 Bank, the 230 Spot, the Upper Hidden Bank, Upper 500 Bank and the 43 Fathom Spot.
Wahoo encounters have been reported in many of the same areas where the yellowfin tuna are biting and in addition, wahoo have been caught in the area 3 to 4 miles off the stretch of coast between Oceanside and Dana Point, at the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot and around North Island and the Rockpile at Los Coronado Islands. It seems like two or three wahoo are being caught most every day for the past couple of weeks and the fish have been running from 30 to 70 pounds. It would be a good idea to have a live bait outfit prepared with wire leader to use should you locate wahoo. It would also be a good idea to rig trolling outfits with wire leaders.
Most of the bluefin tuna have been in the 20- to 40-pound range and the yellowfin ranged from 4- to 70-pounds-plus. Kelp paddie yellowtail ran from 1 to 10 pounds and the dorado have been mixed size fish going from 5 to 35 pounds.
Some recent catch reports start with a report from Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing who reported about a recent 1.5-day trip where they caught their limits of yellowfin tuna and came up just five fish short of having limits of dorado. In addition to the excellent tuna and dorado fishing they also had a shortbill spearfish hooked up that was lost in heart breaking fashion when the fish came off the gaff.
Capt. Andy Papworth of the six-pack charter yacht Prime Time with Prime Time Sportfishing fished a recent three-quarter day trip and reported finding outstanding fishing from a kelp paddie between the 425 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank. Papworth reported catching limits of yellowfin tuna and limits of dorado and added that they also caught and released a bunch of small yellowtail.
Striped marlin continue to bite very well up by Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island with many multiple fish catch and release days of fishing being reported by boats fishing up this way. The current hot bite area as this report is being written is off the Yellow Banks area on the back side of Santa Cruz Island.
The striped marlin fishing has improved in the Catalina region. I estimate 10 striped marlin were caught and released in the area over the weekend by boats fishing spots such as Long Point, Avalon, the Slide, the 152 Spot, the area between the Steamer Lane and the 14 Mile Bank, the 267 Spot and the 209 Spot.
The Catalina area also produced some action on black marlin and blue marlin over the past weekend with a 349.9-pound back marlin caught between the 14 Mile Bank and the Steamer Lane and with an estimated 400-pound blue marlin hooked and lost by a boat fishing in that same sector. The weekend’s fishing also saw an estimated 400-pound blue marlin hooked and lost off the Slide and an estimated 300-pound blue marlin was reported to have been hooked and lost by a boat fishing 8 miles off San Onofre.
In the San Diego area there have been some improving numbers of striped marlin biting for boats fishing the 9 Mile Bank, the area 3 to 5 miles off La Jolla, the 178 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 371 Bank, the 43 Fathom Spot and the Upper Hidden Bank. I estimate five or six striped marlin were caught and released from those areas over the past weekend.
Blue marlin are also making their presence known in the San Diego region as the past weekend saw an estimated 600 pound blue marlin hooked and lost at gaff by a boat fishing at the 371 Bank and also saw an estimated 300-pound blue marlin caught and released by a boat fishing at the 9 Mile Bank.
The 9 Mile Bank also produced action on a blue marlin estimated at 600 pounds. The fish was reported by Capt. Steve Lassley of Bad Company who brought a 462-pound blue marlin into Avalon aboard Bad Company last season. Lassley estimated this fish to be 600 pounds and said that they had the fish alongside the boat with the leader in hand when the 400-pound test leader parted.
Further south, a 318-pound blue marlin was weighed in at Marina Coral in Ensenada over the past weekend.
This fishing season just keeps getting better and with blue marlin, black marlin, wahoo and shortbill spearfish in the picture, the fall fishing season could be as spectacular as any in a long time. 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.