Summer Is Here — and So Is Yellowtail Action

By: Bob Vanian

San Diego’s offshore season is now under way in earnest. Anglers have bluefin tuna and yellowtail to target within one-day range of Point Loma.

No big numbers of bluefin have been biting, until one gets down to more distant waters between 180 miles and 200 miles from Point Loma. But the bluefin that are being caught within 1.5-day and 1-day range have been nice-quality fish that have been running between 20 and 65 pounds.

The yellowtail being caught are mostly in the 5- to 12-pound range, but there have also been some 15- to 25-pound fish in the mix.

Kelp paddies and spots of breezing fish have led to yellowtail action, and the bluefin have come from spots of breezing fish, kelp paddies, sonar marks and an occasional jig strike.

Capt. Mark Oronoz of Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth Sportfishing reported limits of yellowtail and 15 bluefin tuna on a recent two-day trip fishing outside of Punta Colnett, and below. Oronoz was fishing between 100 and 130 miles from Point Loma and reported that the bluefin were in the 40- to 65-pound class.

He suggested using 40-pound-test line with a 40-pound-test fluorocarbon leader for bluefin. His feeling was that this was light enough tackle to allow anglers to get bit — and at the same time, it is heavy enough to give the angler a reasonable chance at landing a 40- to 65-pound bluefin tuna.

Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about a recent trip, fishing waters that were in both 1- and 1.5-day range of Point Loma. Golding reported excellent yellowtail fishing and said they easily limited out on yellowtail — and they caught and released many more.

He also reported metering some bluefin tuna, but he was not able to get the tuna to come up and bite.

Their two best kelp paddies provided wide-open yellowtail action. One of the hot paddies was 115 miles, 161 degrees from Point Loma and the other was 70 miles, 158 degrees from Point Loma.

Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor, out of Fisherman’s Landing, fished a recent 1.5-day trip and reported easy limits of yellowtail and one bluefin tuna. Meisel was working offshore waters both above and below Punta Colnett, and he found action scattered between 80 and 130 miles from Point Loma.

Meisel said he was impressed by the volume of fish that they found, which were spread out over many miles of ocean. Water conditions were good, with a temperature of 65 degrees. Meisel added that he suspects that before long, someone is going to catch the first albacore of the season.

Boats fishing waters within 45 miles or so of Point Loma were also catching yellowtail under kelp paddies. Private boater Marcus Hale of Old Blue reported fishing kelp paddies out by the Kidney Bank. Hale said kelp paddies were hard to find, but that they did locate a few kelp paddies that were holding yellowtail — and they caught two 18- to 20-pound yellowtail out of five hookups.

The water in the area was 66 to 67 degrees and was a good blue color. They had their best action on kelp paddies above and inside of the 224 Spot — 20 miles, 247 degrees from Point Loma.

Farther up the line, the past few days have seen some yellowtail caught from kelp paddies outside of the Carlsbad power plant. But most boats on local offshore trips have worked the waters below and outside of Los Coronados islands while fishing around the 425 Bank, Hidden Bank, 371 Bank and 475 Knuckle.

Kelp paddies were hard to locate in these local areas in recent days. But if you find a few paddies, chances are that one or two of them will be holding some biting yellowtail.

Capt. Chris Abate of the six-pack charter yacht Prime Time, with Prime Time Sportfishing, reported fishing offshore on Father’s Day. He had his father aboard — and a few friends with their fathers were aboard for the trip, as well.

Abate said they had a successful trip and found a hot kelp paddy that produced 12 yellowtail, below the Hidden Bank. He said that kelp paddies were hard to locate and that they found just five paddies to stop on all day.

They caught nine yellows on their session at the productive paddy, and then came back two hours later and caught three more. The hot kelp paddy was 45 miles, 182 degrees from Point Loma.

Capt. Mike Hadfield of the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn, with Point Loma Sportfishing, reported fishing kelp paddies on a recent trip between the 371 Bank and the Hidden Bank. They caught three yellowtail out of six hookups and had some additional excitement when a 120-pound mako shark came in on one of their productive paddies and shut off the bite. They hooked the mako and had some fun fighting it, before it was lost.

Their best area for the yellowtail was below the 371 Bank — 28 miles, 205 degrees from Point Loma.

The water at Los Coronados islands has turned cool, and the yellowtail fishing has slowed in recent days. A few barracuda and calico bass are biting, to go with some good bottomfishing.

According to the latest reports at press time, the water has warmed up a few degrees — and that it looks like conditions are improving. Prior to the recent plunge in water temperature, the best spots for surface fishing for yellowtail and barracuda were the Middle Grounds and Ribbon Kelp.

What picked up when the surface bite at Los Coronados slowed down was the fishing for a mix of yellowtail, white seabass and barracuda along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, below the Bull Ring at Tijuana. There are squid in this zone, and the squid are being fished during the morning daylight hours.

The boats fishing this zone have been jigging the squid to use for bait. The game fish have generally been holding with the squid, and they have been catching their squid and doing their fishing in the same spot.

The yellowtail in this zone have been good-sized 20- to 25-pound fish, and the few white seabass being caught have also been impressive fish in the 30- to 45-pound range.

The San Diego County coastal fishing has been steady for a mix of calico bass and an assortment of rockfish — and there are also some white seabass biting in a few areas between Mission Bay and Del Mar. There have also been a few yellowtail scratched out by boats fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla.

Squid have moved in to various areas along the San Diego County coast, with squid being reported outside of the Mission Bay Jetty, in the area below the Marine Protected Area (MPA) closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, in the area outside of the MPA closure area at the upper end of La Jolla, outside of Torrey Pines and outside of Del Mar.

There have been a few white seabass biting with the squid at night in all these areas. The best area for a chance at a white seabass has been with the squid found outside of Del Mar, in depths ranging from 8 to 14 fathoms.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star, out of Helgren’s Sportfishing, continues to report very good fishing for a mix of calico bass and sand bass at the edges of the kelp beds at Solana Beach, Leucadia and Carlsbad. A lot of the calico bass and sand bass need to be released under the provisions of the new 14-inch minimum size regulations, but anglers are having a great time catching and releasing short-size 12- to 13-inch fish — and they also have been getting to keep some legal-size bass to take home for the table.

Cacciola reported that they have regularly had 4- to 5-inch anchovies for bait — and he said that this has been great bait for fishing the kelp beds.

San Clemente Island has seen a lot of the prime fishing area closed for Navy purposes in recent days. But when fishing has been allowed, there have been a few yellowtail and white seabass biting for boats anchored on the outer ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove, as well as along those same ridges up above Pyramid Cove toward China Point.

A good fishing depth range has been in 15 to 20 fathoms of water. The morning hours have been best for yellowtail, and the action has been coming on sardines, squid and surface iron.

There has been a chance at catching some squid for bait at night while fishing along those same ridge areas, and in Pyramid Cove.

Catalina Island has been producing a mix of yellowtail, white seabass, barracuda and calico bass. The best zone for white seabass has been between Orange Rocks and Salta Verde, while fishing the outside edges of the kelp beds and also while fishing in 14 to 18 fathom depths at a spot where squid have been located. One of the best areas for this deeper-water fishing on the squid grounds has been outside of the Vs.

In general, it has been best to fish the deeper water where you might locate some squid during the night and the early morning daylight hours, and then to come in closer to the island to fish the edges of the kelp and the beach areas during the remainder of the day, until the early evening hours.

Live squid has been the best bait, and there have often been squid boats offering squid for sale while anchored near Avalon. The squid boats usually can be raised on VHF radio Channel 11 or Channel 72.

There have also been occasional flurries of yellowtail action at Catalina. One of the better spots has been in 14 to 18 fathoms of water at the squid grounds between the Vs and Salta Verde.

Other productive areas have included Church Rock, Hen Rock and off Empire Landing. Also, look for some barracuda and calico bass to be biting at these spots along the front side of the island.

It looks like this could be a very good summer season. Do what you can to get out there, and enjoy the fun fishing.

Bob Vanian is the voice, writer and researcher of the San Diego-based Internet fish report service 976-Bite at Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the phone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number, or via email at

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