Summer offshore bites highlighted by dorado, striped marlin, tuna and yellowtail

SAN DIEGO — The past couple of weeks have seen a lot of yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna showing on the local offshore fishing grounds. Anglers have been targeting those species with some success and have also had a few Dorado and some good yellowtail biting to supplement the catches of tuna. The bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna have been present in large numbers but the bite is challenging.

With the tuna often being touchy biters, the tuna fish counts are often not representative of the large volume of fish that are being found in local offshore waters. If the bluefin and yellowfin change their habits and start biting better, there are enough tuna around to provide some epic fishing. The way it is now, there is a chance at catching a tuna of a lifetime by way of one of the jumbo sized bluefin tuna. In most instances you have to work hard and put in a lot of hours of fishing to get one of those jumbos to bite.

The bluefin tuna have ranged in size from 25 to 300+ pounds. The yellowfin tuna have been running from 8 to 30 pounds, with most in the 12- to 25-pound range. The best areas for fishing for the big bluefin tuna has been in the areas of the 86 Fathom Spot, 57 Fathom Spot and the 190 Fathom Spot off the back side of San Clemente Island. The best area for the mixed size bluefin tuna and for yellowfin tuna has been in the area of the ridge of the San Clemente Canyon while fishing between the 43 Fathom Spot and Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island. In a bit closer to the coast, there has also been some bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna activity for boats fishing the region of the 181 Spot, 289 Spot and 182 Spot.

The third weekend of July saw a new development with good numbers of kelp paddie yellowtail biting together with a few dorado, yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna for boats fishing the area of the 371 Bank, Upper Hidden Bank and the area below the 475 Knuckle. A lot of skippers and anglers are hoping this new influx of fish will develop into a body of fish are better biting fish than the tuna that are currently up by San Clemente Island and the 43 Fathom Spot.

The bluefin tuna have been biting on kite trolled Yummy Flyers, sardines, live squid, mackerel, Colt Snipers, Flat Fall jigs and poppers. The best bet for targeting the jumbo-sized bluefin has been using the kite trolled Yummy Flyers.

Yellowfin tuna have been biting on sardines, poppers, Flat Fall jigs, Colt Snipers, trolled Rapalas and trolling feathers. Most of the action originates in areas where there are spots of breaking or foaming fish showing and in areas where Skippers are getting meter marks with their fathometers or scanning sonar.

Those interested in fishing for striped marlin are excited to see more of the species arriving in local offshore waters. The past weekend saw an influx of striped marlin. Two marlins were caught and released by boats fishing between Avalon and the Avalon Bank at Catalina. Another marlin was caught and released by a boat around the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina. In the San Diego region, two striped marlins caught by boats fishing around the 302 Spot outside of Los Coronado Islands.

The surface fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been providing pretty good to sometimes good surface fishing for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass. There have also been occasional showings of bluefin tuna reported at the South Kelp Ridge, the lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the 5 Minute Kelp.

Best areas for yellowtail and bonito have been at the Middle Grounds and at spots along the weather side of North Island such as Pukey Point and the Keyhole at the south tip of North Island. Look for more of a mixed bag catch of yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass while fishing spots such as the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp, the 5 Minute Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. There has been some off color water moving around at the Islands and finding an area where there is good clean looking water can be a key to finding the best numbers of biting fish.

Good ways to locate yellowtail are by meter marks, sonar marks, spots of working birds, strikes on trolled Rapalas and strikes on slow trolled sardines. Once located, flylined live sardines have been the best bait.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, rockfish and sculpin. Boats fishing the Point Loma Kelp Beds and the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla have also been picking up a few barracuda and an occasional yellowtail. The most productive kelp bed spots along the San Diego County coast for calico bass have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Box Canyon and San Onofre.

Capt. Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports they have been having good calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. Cacciola said the water has been very warm and at times has been warmer to 76 degrees.

The summer fishing season is rolling right along and there are a lot of fun fish to target be it offshore, at the local islands or along the coast. Do not let the summer season pass you by without getting out on the water to do some fishing! 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: Dana Wharf Sportfishing

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