March 1 rockfish season opener does not disappoint

Southern California anglers eagerly awaited the March 1 opening of the rockfish season and the days of fishing following the opener have not disappointed. The fish are often eager biters and this year’s rockfish opener provided good fishing.

As an example of the fishing on opener, Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing had two half-day trips with 54 anglers catch 158 rockfish, one lingcod, three sculpin and two calico bass. Chubasco II with Chubasco 2 Sportfishing had 21 anglers on a half day trip catch 32 reds, 40 rockfish and two lingcod.

On the offshore fishing front there was a 45-pound class bluefin tuna caught incidental to fishing for yellowtail while fishing the high spot off Punta Colnett on a 1.5-day trip aboard Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing. The catch was made on Feb. 27 but I know of no bluefin caught since then. There have been reports of bluefin seen at around 130 miles from Point Loma while fishing outside of San Martin Island; bluefin have also been seen within 60 miles of Point Loma at the 60 Mile Bank, the Upper Hidden Bank and the 43 Fathom Spot.

Boats fishing 1.5-day trips to Punta Colnett out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay continue to do well on yellowtail and an assortment of rockfish. Private boater Harry Okuda of Alfresco III fished the Punta Colnett high spot area while on a 1.5-day trip aboard Dominator out of Point Loma Sportfishing on March 5 and reported good fishing. Dominator’s fish count for the 1.5-day trip was 22 anglers catching 70 yellowtail, 70 rockfish, four lingcod and seven barracuda.  

The Punta Colnett yellowtail have been biting from drifting over sonar marks or fathometer marks and most have been caught on yo-yoed iron. Some yellows have also been biting on live baits such as anchovies, sardines or mackerel that are fished on a dropper loop rig. Yo-yoed iron tends to be the best and good choices have been Salas 7X heavy, Salas 6X and Tady 4/0 jigs in the scrambled egg color or in the Salas 7X’s red and yellow color pattern. Okuda reported that the yellowtail were holding in the lower half of the water column and he suggested fishing the entire lower half of the water column with your yo-yo jig.

The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been producing good numbers of assorted rockfish and there has also been a chance at scratching out a few yellowtail. Look for meter marks or sonar marks to locate the yellowtail and once located with the electronics, the best bets have been fishing the yellows with yo-yoed iron or with a sardine or mackerel that is fished on a dropper loop rig. 

Likely areas to locate a yellowtail meter mark or sonar mark around Los Coronado Islands have been the hard bottom along the weather side of North Island and the hard bottom into the north of North Island. Other areas that have been holding yellowtail over the past several weeks have been the Finger Bank, the Rockpile and the South Kelp Ridge.

San Clemente Island has also produced occasional surface fishing action with 3-5 pound bonito and 5-10 pound yellowtail biting. The fish have been located by finding meter marks or sonar marks that are often located 20-30 fathoms below the surface in areas where there are red crabs. Pyramid Cove, White Rock and Purse Seine Rock have been areas worth taking a look at for a chance at the yellowtail and bonito.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has produced good fishing for rockfish since the season opened. Some of the better areas have been the hard bottom outside of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the 270 outside of Mission Bay, La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.

There has also been a chance at picking up a good sized yellowtail or white seabass while fishing along the San Diego County coast with the fishing in the La Jolla area reported to be the best. The best area at La Jolla is outside the MLPA closure block outside of the Cove at the upper end of La Jolla. Another productive yellowtail zone has been fishing further outside of the upper end of La Jolla at the hard bottom and kelp stringer area of Northwest. The lower middle part of La Jolla has also produced occasional yellowtail action while fishing outside of the kelp area above the MLPA closure block at the lower end of La Jolla. 

The first day of spring is coming on March 20 and we have already been experiencing a bit of spring like fishing. Most skippers are thinking things should just keep getting better as we get closer to and enter the spring season that lies ahead. 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 bob976bite@aol.com.

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