SAN DIEGO — Southern California’s saltwater anglers might spend a sleepless night or two wrestling with the issue of what to target on offshore fishing grounds. It is a good problem to have, though, as there are a lot of good choices to pick from, with jumbo-sized bluefin tuna to 300+ pounds biting out at San Clemente Island leading the way. Another excellent choice might be the numbers of yellowfin tuna and skipjack mixed with some Dorado and yellowtail down at the Upper Hidden Bank, which is about 40 miles below Point Loma. Yet another fine choice would be to do some kelp paddie hopping for Dorado, ranging from the Catalina Channel on down to the offshore waters outside of Ensenada.
Targeting striped marlin, meanwhile, at spots around the East End of Catalina would be another worthy choice.
The best area for jumbo-sized bluefin tuna is off the backside of San Clemente Island, where there has been action on fish reaching 300+ pounds. The best areas have been in the region of the 57 Fathom Spot and190 Fathom Spot above China Point at San Clemente Island and the fish have also been ranging further up the back side of the Island to where you are fishing from the area outside of Seal Cove on up to where you are fishing outside of the Runway.
The bluefin have been biting on a variety of baits and lures such as sardines, mackerel, live squid, flying fish, kite trolled Yummy Flyers, Flat Fall jigs and poppers. What has been working best in recent days has been live flying fish, dead rigged flying fish, kite trolled Yummy Flyers and live squid. The bluefin have been found by locating meter marks, sonar marks and spots of breaking or breezing fish that are up working on the surface. Some of the best fishing sometimes happens during the dark with the few hours after sunset and prior to dawn being the best.
In other areas, the fishing for a mix of yellowfin tuna and skipjack along with a few Dorado and yellowtail has been very good for boats fishing the region around the Upper Hidden Bank in an area ranging from 35 to 40 miles 175 to 182 degrees from Point Loma.
Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever reported fishing a two-day trip to the Upper Hidden Bank on Aug. 18 and 19. He caught 31 yellowfin tuna, 10 Dorado and one yellowtail. They also caught and released lots of skipjack. Bowers said their best yellowfin stop came from stopping alongside puddling fish and throwing some chum. That stop turned into a lengthy 4-mile drift where they were catching yellowfin and skipjack.
Capt. Mike Hadfield of the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn with Point Loma Sportfishing reported fishing a recent trip to the area between the Upper Hidden Bank and the 475 Knuckle. The six anglers caught 25 yellowfin, one yellowtail, one Dorado, 15 skipjack and a bunch of additional skipjack that were released.
Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about fishing the region of the Upper Hidden Bank on Aug. 18. He said they had good fun fishing and caught limits of dorado for the three anglers aboard (six dorado), caught and released six additional dorado, caught and released lots of skipjack and caught 5 yellowfin. Golding reported they had action throughout the day from blind trolling strikes and kelp paddies. Their yellowfin ranged from 12 to 15 pounds. Their best fishing was found while working around the Upper Hidden Bank between 35 and 40 miles 175 to 180 degrees from Point Loma.
Striped marlin have been biting at spots around the eastern part of Catalina and the top area on Aug. 18 and 19 was for boats fishing outside of the V’s. My estimate was that 4 or 5 marlin were caught and released from that area over the weekend. The weekend also saw a bit of marlin activity within the fleet of boats fishing for bluefin tuna off the backside of San Clemente Island with at least one marlin being caught and released from that zone.
In the San Diego region the marlin fishing has been scratchy but the past weekend did see a bit of marlin activity outside of the Corner. There were some marlin seen in the area of the Corner but none were caught that I know of.
Ray Millman of Go The Distance reported catching and releasing a marlin while fishing by the 475 Knuckle at 45 miles 162 degrees from Point Loma on Aug. 14. Millman was in an area where there were some skipjack and yellowfin tuna biting and got the marlin bite while trolling by a spot of working birds. The marlin bit on a black and purple Coggins jig.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of yellowtail, calico bass and bonito and has also been producing an occasional bluefin tuna. Productive areas have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp, the lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the South Kelp Ridge.
Private boater Mike Seymour of Sea Section fished at the Coronado Islands on Aug. 17 and reported a catch that included limits of yellowtail. He said the seals were numerous and very aggressive and said they lost several yellowtail hookups to the aggressive seals.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, rockfish and sculpin and is also producing a few barracuda, bonito and yellowtail along with an occasional halibut.
Kelp bed areas have been producing most of the calico bass action with the top areas being the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn, Box Canyon and San Onofre.
The Point Loma Kelp Beds and the La Jolla Kelp Beds currently provide the best chance at a yellowtail or a flurry of barracuda or bonito action.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center has been reporting very good calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. At last report they had small sardines in their bait supply and Cacciola reported the small sardines were working very well for the calico bass. With water temperatures ranging up into the high 70s, Cacciola suggested targeting the calico bass by fishing your baits and lures 15 to 20 feet below the surface where the water is a bit cooler than what is on the surface.
There are a lot of good choices of what to target in a day of fishing be it offshore at the islands or along the coast. Make a decision about what interests you most and get on out there and enjoy the fun 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 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.
Newport Landing photo