SAN DIEGO—Recent weeks have seen numerous weather systems pass through Southern California, which have resulted in gale warnings and small craft advisories being posted because of high seas, strong winds and rain. There were a few good weather days between systems but skippers and anglers had to watch the forecasts closely to be able to choose the best time to go fishing. It is a constant reminder anglers and skippers should always check the latest marine weather forecast before going boating or fishing.
It has been over a week since any boats have been offshore looking for bluefin tuna and kelp paddie yellowtail. The last boats out found a bit of bluefin tuna activity out on the Ridge between the 181 Spot and the 182 Spot while fishing 28 to 35 miles from Point Loma but the bluefin fishing was slow. With the slow fishing and the recent poor weather there has not been anyone I know of looking around for bluefin in recent days. My guess is the recent poor weather conditions, which have included high seas and strong winds, have caused a change in the water conditions. The change in the water conditions may have caused whatever bluefin still wintering in local offshore waters to make a move.
At last report there were a few kelp paddie yellowtail scattered around offshore in an area ranging from the Catalina Channel to the 9 Mile Bank, but overall the kelp paddie yellowtail fishing in that area had turned scratchy. The one good report about kelp paddie yellowtail fishing was from 10 days ago near Upper Hidden Bank, which is located below and outside of Los Coronado Islands, about 38 miles from Point Loma. No boats I know of have fished there since.
Last reports from Los Coronado Islands: There was very good mixed bag fishing for reds, rockfish, bonito and a few yellowtaila. No one I know of has been fishing Los Coronados for the past week due to the bad weather. Malihini out of H&M Landing fished a full-day trip around Los Coronado Islands on Jan. 27 They found very good mixed bag fishing for reds, an assortment of rockfish, large bonito and a few yellowtails and had 14 anglers on a full-day trip return with 70 rockfish (limits of rockfish), 35 reds, three yellowtail and 42 bonito. Capt. Bill Wilkerson of Malihini reported the bonito caught were jumbo-sized fish, running from 8 to 12 pounds.
Good areas for rockfish have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island while fishing in 35 to 50 fathoms of water. The best area for a chance at finding some surface fishing action has been along the weather side of North Island.
Anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border need to keep in mind that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure went into effect on Jan. 1. The end of the closure is on March 1, but until that time, anglers seeking to fish for rockfish/groundfish species covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters to fish for those species.
Boats fishing coastal trips have been able to get in some fishing in decent weather between weather systems and the fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to provide a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin as well as a few halibut. There is occasional yellowtail activity reported but the species has not been biting very well when they do decide to show. The areas where sporadic yellowtail activity has been reported have been at the upper end of La Jolla, the lower end of La Jolla and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. There has also been a very occasional white sea bass caught incidental to fishing for bass and sculpin.
Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure area at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.
Capt. Mike Hadfield of the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn with Point Loma Sportfishing reported about a recent half-day trip at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and found good fishing for sand bass; the trip included two jumbo sized fish of 5 and 6.5 pounds. They had lots of action and the 4 anglers aboard caught eight legal sized sand bass and also caught and released additional short sized fish. Hadfield has also been running open party lobster hoop netting trips in the evenings and catching legal sized lobster. On a recent trip they had two anglers catch eight legal sized California spiny lobsters and catch-and-release 10 short-sized California spiny lobsters.
A recent report from Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center was that the Oceanside Sea Center boats have done well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area.
Fishing with strips of fresh frozen squid has been working well for the bass and sculpin. One of the best techniques has been fishing the squid strip on a bare lead head jig head. Cacciola says that it sometimes helps to fish a sliding sinker above the lead head jig head that is baited with the strip of squid.
Chubasco II out of the Oceanside Sea Center was able to get out fishing between weather systems on Feb. 1 and had a morning half-day trip with 14 anglers who caught 15 sand bass, 30 sand bass (released), 22 calico bass (released), one sculpin, 12 perch, two halibut and two sargo.
The weather systems continue to keep anglers off the water on certain days but if you watch the weather forecast and choose the good weather days, there is some fun fishing to be had during the winter months. I hope you can get out there on a nice weather day and enjoy the fun fishing that the winter months can offer. 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 www.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 email@example.com.