The arrival of spring delivers anglers improved fishing

SAN DIEGO — Today is March 20, 2017 and it is the first day of spring! I am happy to report, despite all the storms passing through Southern California during the winter season, anglers have been finding spring like fishing heading into the new season. With spring actually here, it is not unreasonable to think things will just keep rolling along and continue to develop as the days go by.

It is very early in the calendar year for us to talk offshore fishing in local waters. However this year we do have offshore fishing to talk about right here and now as we enter the first day of spring. Yellowtail can be caught from kelp paddies at offshore areas outside of Los Coronado Islands. Kelp paddie yellowtail was been reported by boats fishing between Los Coronado Islands and the 302 Spot and also below and outside of Los Coronado Islands in the area of the 425 Bank. Most of the kelp paddie yellowtail range from 2 to 5 pounds, with an occasional bigger fish to around 12 pounds.

There are even reports of bluefin tuna to 100 pounds occasionally being seen by boats fishing the Tuna Alley area that is located about half way between North Island and the 302 Spot.

The yellowtail fishing around Los Coronado Islands has also improved with the arrival of spring. The yellows holding close to the Islands have been much larger sized fish than have been found under offshore kelp paddies and have been mostly 15- to 20-pound class fish.

Better numbers of yellowtail have been showing around Los Coronado Islands during the past week and some days see the yellowtail be finicky biters and some days see them cooperate and bite much better. Most of the yellowtail bit from stopping on sonar marks and meter marks found along the weather side of North Island. Skippers have been stopping on the marks and chumming with sardines. Some of the schools of yellowtail have been responding to the chum and coming to the surface. Once located, the yellows have been biting on yo-yo iron, surface iron and sardines.

San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had good yellowtail action when 11 anglers on a March 17 three-quarter day trip caught 13 yellowtail and 97 rockfish. The 25 anglers aboard San Diego’s March 18 trip also had a good day with 20 yellowtail and 20 rockfish. The yellowtail bite dropped off the next day when there were 3 three-quarter day boats out fishing and only one of the boats had yellowtail in their fish count. Malihini out of H&M Landing had 20 anglers catch two yellowtail, four calico bass, seven bonito and 52 rockfish on March 19.

Boats fishing 1.5-day trips to the Punta Colnett area continue to find good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, reds, lingcod and assorted rockfish. Pacific Queen, out of Fisherman’s Landing, had 20 anglers catch 100 rockfish and 52 yellowtail on a 1.5-day trip last weekend. Point Loma Sportfishing had a 1.5-day trip aboard Dominator fishing on March 18. The 17 anglers catch 85 rockfish and 80 yellowtail. H&M Landing’s Relentless ventured out on a 1.5-day trip lat weekend and the 21 anglers caught 73 rockfish, 16 yellowtail, 16 lingcod and 105 reds.

The yellowtail in the Punta Colnett area have been 12- to 25-pound fish and have been biting best on yo-yoed iron dropped down to meter marks found with scanning sonar. Some productive jigs patterns have been Salas 6X, a heavy Candy Bar, Tady 4/0 and Tady 14A’s with good colors reported to be dorado, scrambled egg and a red crab like red. Live mackerel have been a good bait to help target lingcod.

The fishing along the San Diego County Coast has provided occasional flurries of yellowtail action in the La Jolla region. Some areas further north are also starting to see some occasional yellowtail activity. There was a report of a boat that recently caught three yellowtail on yo-yoed iron dropped down to a meter mark found on the rockfish grounds outside of Box Canyon.

The yellowtail in the La Jolla region are being found in a couple of different areas. The first yellowtail zone is outside of the upper end of La Jolla while fishing in the 14 to 25 fathom depths and the second yellowtail area is out by “The 270,” which is out to the west of Mission Bay in 40 to 48 fathoms of water. It is very much hit or miss in being able to locate and catch yellowtail but one private boater fishing La Jolla did recently report catching two nice-sized yellowtail he found holding around red crabs. Once located, best bets for a chance at yellowtail in the La Jolla region have been using live mackerel, yo-yo iron or surface iron. Look for meter marks, sonar marks or bird life to locate yellowtail.

There was some radio chatter about a small area of squid being found at the upper end of La Jolla that produced a few white sea bass, but I have yet to be able to confirm the report.

The remainder of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been producing good mixed bag action for rockfish, sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Productive rockfish areas have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the west and the northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the 270 out to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.

Some of the better spots for the bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the kelp off Imperial Beach, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Leucadia, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and the kelp at the Barn and San Onofre.

Halibut should be starting to become more active with the arrival of spring. In recent weeks, there has been some halibut activity reported outside of the Golf Balls above Oceanside, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, at the sandy bottom adjacent to the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach and in the area below and outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

Private boater Mike Seymour of Sea-Section reported fishing a recent trip where he fished outside of the Imperial Beach Pier and at the Imperial Beach Pipeline. Seymour reported they found the fishing at the Imperial Beach Pipeline to be scratchy. There were good number of boats fishing the pipeline but he did not see much going on and left after a short try with no action.

They next tried for halibut by drifting sandy bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier. While drifting for halibut they caught 6 legal sized sand bass, caught and released a bunch of short sized barracuda and caught some mackerel for their bait tank. Seymour also said that they had two raked baits that appeared to be from halibut bites but they did not have any luck in catching a halibut. The water temperature in the area was reported to be 61.5 degrees and the water was “reasonably clean.”

There is improved surface fishing being reported by boats fishing Catalina and San Clemente Islands. There was a recent report of good fishing for calico bass and barracuda by a boat fishing the boiler rocks in the Church Rock area at Catalina Island and the Parson’s Landing area has produced action on calico bass and an occasional yellowtail.

There are some squid to catch for bait off China Point at Catalina Island and there was a report of a few white sea bass biting in this same zone. There are some squid at China Point at Catalina. One boat offers squid for sale while anchored at China Point. Try to raise the squid boats on channels 11 or 72 on the VHF radio.

Rockfish fishing has been good at San Clemente Island and there is an occasional yellowtail being caught during the early morning hours while fishing outside of Pyramid Cove. There was also a recent report of some bonito biting at spots along the front side of San Clemente Island.

The 2017 Southern California spring fishing season is now underway. With yellowtail, bonito, white sea bass and bluefin tuna already part of the picture, who knows where the 2017 fishing season might be headed! 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

(Red Rooster III photo)

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