Summer brings bluefin U.S. waters and yellowtail at Los Coronado Islands

SAN DIEGO — Summer is here, which means there are now lots of bluefin tuna to be seen and sometimes caught on the United States side of the Mexico border. There have been plenty of tuna to look at, but getting them to bite can be another matter. The typical day has seen lots of bluefin showing up on the surface but just an occasional fish wanting to bite the baits and lures being present by anglers. Patience can pay off in a big way with catching the fish of a lifetime, though, as the bluefin have been ranging in size from 25 to 200+ pounds.

As an example of the recent fishing, Grande out of H&M Landing had 25 anglers on its June 24 full-day trip catch two bluefin tuna. Old Glory’s June 25 overnight trip with 36 anglers returned with bluefin tuna.

The best area for the bluefin is currently located between the 43 Fathom Spot and Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island for boats fishing 45 to 50 miles, 258 to 260 degrees from Point Loma. The past week has seen the bluefin steadily moving in a west-northwesterly direction.

Bluefin have been biting from stopping on spots of breaking fish, sonar marks and meter marks. Drifted sardines, slow trolled mackerel, surface iron, flat fall jigs and kite trolled Yummy Flyers have been drawing the occasional strikes from the bluefin once located.

The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been fantastic with lots of yellowtail biting to go with a mix of barracuda, bonito and calico bass. Some of the better days have been producing limits of yellowtail.

Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a full-day trip June 24; the 17 anglers caught 85 yellowtails (limits of yellowtail), 24 calico bass, 13 bonito, five barracuda and one sheephead.

Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing fished a full-day trip with 53 anglers; they caught 169 yellowtails, 25 bonito, nine barracuda and 16 calico bass.

Seaforth Sportfishing had a full-day trip aboard San Diego fishing with 31 anglers; they caught 132 yellowtails, four barracuda, 10 bonito and 34 calico bass.

H&M Landing had Malihini fishing a full-day trip with 21 anglers; they caught 58 yellowtails, three barracuda, 15 bonito, six calico bass and seven rockfish.

Boats fishing Los Coronado Islands have been finding good action while fishing a variety of areas with the best recent reports coming from the South Kelp Ridge, the lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the Middle Grounds. There has also been an occasional nice-sized halibut caught by boats drifting sandy bottom areas inside of South Island.

Meter marks, sonar marks and spots of fish under working birds have been ideal for spotting yellowtails. Trolling has been another good way to locate yellowtail with trolling strikes coming on Rapalas and on slow trolled sardines. Once located, the yellowtails have been biting on flylined sardines and surface iron with sardines usually working the best. The yellowtails have been running from 6 to 25 pounds, with the majority of the fish in the 8- to 16-pound range.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin and rockfish. There have also been a few barracuda and an occasional yellowtail, halibut or white sea bass showing in the catch.

The hot sand bass bite area has been off Imperial Beach for boats fishing meter marks and sonar marks found in 8 to 10 fathoms of water. Kelp bed areas have been the best for the calico bass and have also been producing a few sand bass. Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the sculpin and rockfish and have also been producing some sand bass and calico bass. Fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to hard bottom and structure spots has been best for a chance at a halibut.

The best zone for a chance at finding yellowtail and barracuda in the mix with the bass fishing has been at the Imperial Beach sand bass bite area. Skippers have been fishing the sand bass by anchoring on meter marks and sonar marks found in 8 to 10 fathoms of water.

Private boater Richard Hamilton of Apollo has been fishing for halibut off Imperial Beach on a regular basis. He caught a 52-pound white sea bass on June 21! Hamilton reported catching the big white sea bass while he was drifting for halibut in 40 feet of water outside of the Imperial Beach Pier. The big sea bass was caught on a sardine that he was flylining with a size 1/0 hook on 25-pound test line.

There have been a few halibut biting at spots along the San Diego County coast and productive areas have been outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, Mission Beach, Solana Beach, Leucadia and inside of San Diego Bay. Fishing the sandy bottom that is adjacent to structure, kelp or hard bottom has been the best bet for halibut.

La Jolla sounds like a coastal area worth keeping an eye on. A private boater caught and lost a yellowtail while trolling with Rapalas. He also reported good calico bass fishing at La Jolla.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reported the water temperature in the kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach has been running about 69 degrees. Cacciola said the water has varied from an off color green to a clean green.

The Sea Star captain added one of their recent halibut weighed in at 28 pounds; they also caught a 23-inch halibut that same day. They have been catching their halibut on sandy bottom areas located along the edges of the kelp bed and the kelp stringer areas where they have been fishing for calico bass. Anchovies have been working very well for calico bass, according to Cacciola. They have also been doing well on the calicos while fishing with Hookup Bait plastics.             There have been some pretty good to sometimes good numbers of yellowtail and calico bass biting at San Clemente Island. Best areas for yellowtail have been while fishing off Pyramid Cove, White Rock and Purse Seine Rock.

At Catalina Island there has been a mix of yellowtail, bonito, calico bass and barracuda biting at spots around the Isthmus and at spots around the middle part of the front side of the Island. There has also been good fishing for a mix of calico bass, yellowtail and bonito to go with an occasional white sea bass or halibut for boats fishing spots along the backside of the Island between the V’s and Ben Weston.

Live squid is the best bait for the fishing at Catalina and San Clemente Island. Squid has not been easy to catch but when they have it available, squid boats have been offering squid for sale while anchored up outside of Avalon. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 11 or 72.

The summer fishing season is underway and there is some good fun fishing to target be it chasing bluefin tuna offshore or fishing for yellowtail, bass, barracuda, bonito, halibut and white sea bass at the Islands or along the coast. I hope you can get on the water 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 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

Photo Credit: Red Rooster III

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