SAN DIEGO—The 2019 spring fishing season keeps on improving with what are sometimes good numbers of bluefin tuna biting and yellowtail biting in better numbers at more locations at the local islands and along the coast.
Bluefin tuna are attracting much of the attention and some of the better trips are seeing near limit to limit action on bluefin that have been ranging in size from 25 to 275+ pounds. The majority of the bluefin have been nice sized fish within the 50- to 80-pound range.
Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing had 20 anglers on a full-day trip catch 35 bluefin. Fisherman’s Landing also had Pacific Queen fishing a 1.5-day trip with 33 anglers who caught 32 bluefin, four yellowtails and one yellowfin. Fisherman’s Landing also had Pegasus fishing an overnight trip with nine anglers who caught 17 bluefin. Tomahawk out of Fisherman’s Landing fished a 1.5-day trip with 20 anglers who caught 18 bluefin and nine yellowtails. Fisherman’s Landing also had Condor fishing a 1.5-day trip with 18 anglers who caught five bluefin, 27 yellowtails and 23 bonito.
Point Loma Sportfishing had American Angler fishing a 1.5-day trip; the 32 anglers aboard returned with 17 bluefin and 27 yellowtails. Point Loma Sportfishing had New Lo-An fishing a 1.5-day trip with 18 anglers who caught 33 bluefin tuna. Chief out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished a 1.5-day trip with 16 anglers who caught seven bluefin tuna and eight yellowtails.
Sea Adventure 80 out of H&M Landing had 28 anglers fishing a 1.5-day trip and return with 24 bluefin. The 17 anglers aboard Relentless for two days caught six bluefin, 15 yellowtails and 170 rockfish.
Seaforth Sportfishing had San Diego fishing a full-day trip and the 27 anglers returned with five bluefin. Seaforth Sportfishing also had Outer Limits fishing a 1.5-day trip with nine anglers who caught 10 bluefin and eight yellowtails. Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished a 1.5-day trip with 32 anglers catching 11 bluefin. Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished a 1.5-day trip and had 12 anglers catch 11 yellowtails and one bluefin.
The best zone for the bluefin tuna has been spread around some of the offshore banks located below and outside of Los Coronado Islands in the region of the 371 Bank, 475 Knuckle, Finger Bank, Upper Hidden Bank and 390 Bank. The area of fish has been spread from 28 to 45 miles, 160 to 215 degrees from Point Loma. The past couple days have also seen some bluefin sightings made much closer to Point Loma in the area of the 9 Mile Bank so it might not be long before the 9 Mile Bank produces bluefin activity on a consistent basis.
The bluefin stops have been coming from stopping on sonar marks or meter marks as well as from stopping on spots of breezing fish and spots of jumper fish. Some of the best bluefin stops have come from sonar marks that are being found in the dark. Sardines and flat fall jigs have been working best for the bluefin with sardines working the best. The offshore yellowtails have been running from 5 to 12 pounds and the offshore yellows have been caught while fishing around kelp paddies.
Due to the mixed size of the bluefin you might encounter and the fact that some schools of fish are more eager biters than others, if you have the tackle and the space to carry the tackle, it is a good idea to be prepared with live bait rods that have fluorocarbon leaders ranging from 30 pound test to 100 pound test. This allows you to readily adjust your tackle selection to how picky the fish might be and how large the fish are that are in the school of fish you are stopped on.
Captain Steve Peterson of Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing reported that they have also had a lot of fun with the yellowtail by hooking them on stick bait casting jigs. Peterson said that the strike involves the fish striking the stick bait on the surface. This strike creates a big surface boil, which adds a lot of excitement to the hookup.
Fishing along the San Diego County coast has been highlighted by improved yellowtail fishing at the upper end of La Jolla. Most of the rest of the coastal fishing has been good for a mix of bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with an occasional bonus halibut or lingcod.
The yellowtail activity at La Jolla has been good at times, running from 12 to 35 pounds. The yellows have been biting some during the morning hours but the afternoon hours have been best. Over the Mother’s Day weekend there were some private boaters who were reporting having as many as five large yellowtails aboard. On May 12, New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a fish count of 35 anglers on an afternoon half-day trip catching 13 yellowtails and one sculpin.
The coastal yellowtail action has come in a variety of ways that include fishing on the anchor, drifting, slow trolling live baits, stopping on meter marks or sonar marks and stopping on spots of working birds. Once yellowtails are located, there has been action to be had while using surface iron, yo-yo iron, sardines, mackerel and trolled X-Rap Rapalas. The live sardines and live mackerel have been effective when slow trolled, flylined or fished with a dropper loop rig.
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.
San Clemente Island has been producing a good mixed bag of yellowtail and assorted bottom fish to go with a mix of a few calico bass and bonito. The best areas for the yellowtail fishing have been off the backside of the western end of the Island at the West Cove and Runway areas and while fishing the front side of the Island between White Rock and Gold Bluff. Yellowtail action has been found while sitting on the anchor and also found by stopping on sonar marks, meter marks and the occasional spot of breaking fish. The yellowtail has been biting on sardines, surface iron and yo-yo iron and the bonito have bit best on sardines.
Catalina Island has also been producing what has been pretty good to sometimes good numbers of yellowtail to go with lots of assorted bottom fish and a mix of a few calico bass, barracuda and bonito. Most of the yellowtail action has come while sitting on the anchor and private boaters have also found some yellowtail action on slow trolled sardines and slow trolled mackerel. Productive yellowtail areas have been off the V’s, off Little Harbor, outside of Indian Rock and while fishing between the Blue Cavern State Marine Conservation Area and the Long Point State Marine Reserve.
The spring fishing season is moving right along and the yellowtail and bluefin fishing is improving nicely as we head toward the late spring season. I hope you get a chance to get out fishing and get in on the 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.