SoCal’s spring offshore fishing still highlighted by bluefin tuna and yellowtail

SAN DIEGO—The Southern California spring fishing season is beginning to blossom like a field of wildflowers as there are bluefin tuna and yellowtail biting and providing impressive action. The weather has also been improving and the upswing in the spring fishing has been right in step with the weather.

Fishing on April 13 and 14 saw several sportboats out fishing for bluefin tuna and there was a good amount of success reported for bluefin tuna that ranged from 25 to 160 pounds. The best fishing was found while fishing the area around the Lower 500 Bank for boats working from 80 to 90 miles, 161 to 163 degrees from Point Loma.

Some fish counts for boats fishing on 1.5-day trips on April 13 include Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing, which had 29 anglers catch 37 bluefin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Pride fishing a 1.5-day trip with 11 anglers catching nine bluefin tuna and 21 yellowtails. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Pacific Voyager fishing a two-day trip with 20 anglers who caught 77 yellowtails and 10 bluefin tuna. Fisherman’s Landing had Condor fishing a 1.5-day trip with 26 anglers catching 21 bluefin tuna. H&M Landing had Legend fishing a 1.5-day trip with 30 anglers catching 18 bluefin tuna. H&M Landing also had Old Glory fishing a 1.5-day trip with 30 anglers catching 26 bluefin tuna and six yellowtails. Poseidon out of H&M Landing had a 1.75 day-trip with 19 anglers catching 18 bluefin tuna.

The bluefin stops have been coming from stopping on sonar marks or meter marks as well as from stopping on spots of breezing fish. The spots of breezing bluefin have had the tendency to show best during the afternoon hours. Sardines and flat fall jigs have been working best for the bluefin. The offshore yellowtail has been caught while fishing around kelp paddies.

There has been good yellowtail fishing around Los Coronado Islands, with some of the recent fish counts on full day sportboat trips getting up over the 200 mark. Some fish counts for boats fishing on April 14 include Grande out of H&M Landing, where 51 anglers on a full-day trip caught 227 yellowtails and six bonito. Fisherman’s Landing had Liberty fishing a full-day trip with 59 anglers who caught 262 yellowtails. Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a full-day trip with 35 anglers catch 134 yellowtails, eight rockfish and six bonito. San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a full-day trip with 50 anglers return with 221 yellowtails.

In addition to the fishing for yellowtail and bonito around Los Coronado Islands, there has also been good fishing for rockfish. One of the best zones for rockfish has been at hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 40 to 65 fathoms of water. Another productive rockfish zone has been while fishing the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in 25 to 40 fathoms of water.

Anglers fishing along the San Diego County coast have been finding good fishing for a mix of bass, sculpin, whitefish, reds and an assortment of rockfish. There has also been an occasional bonus halibut, lingcod, white sea bass or yellowtail in the mix as well.

Productive rockfish areas off the San Diego County coast include the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.

There have been a few halibut biting and productive halibut areas include the sandy bottom near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, the area outside of the Oceanside Pier, the sandy bottom off South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck, San Diego Bay and while fishing sandy bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

Private boater Mike Seymour of Sea Section reported about fishing along the coast for a few hours on a trip out of San Diego Bay on April 11. Seymour reported it was easy to catch mackerel for bait at the bait receivers in San Diego Bay. He reported tipping the bait catcher rig’s hooks with a strip of frozen anchovy or strip of sardine helped a lot in getting bites from the mackerel.

After catching some mackerel for the bait tank, Seymour said they went outside of the harbor and found some schools of short sized barracuda. They caught and released several short sized barracuda but found nothing doing on legal sized barries. They next went down to make some drifts for halibut outside of the Imperial Beach Pier. He said they made several drifts in the area but were only able to catch and release two short sized halibut.

Up at Catalina, there has been some squid to be caught for bait at night outside of Ben Weston. Catalina has been producing an occasional white sea bass or yellowtail but it continues to be scratchy fishing. Areas where occasional white sea bass or yellowtail activity has been reported have been while fishing outside of the V’s and Salta Verde as well as off the area between Ribbon Rock and the West End. A prolonged stretch of good weather would go a long way toward stabilizing the water conditions and sparking some improved white sea bass and yellowtail fishing at Catalina.

There is improved yellowtail activity to report from San Clemente Island with an occasional yellowtail biting at hard bottom areas off Pyramid Cove as well as along the front side of the Island in the White Rock area.

The spring fishing season continues to improve with bluefin tuna and yellowtail grabbing the spotlight. I hope you have a chance to get out on the water and sample the springtime action. 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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