Tuna season rolls into mid-November

SAN DIEGO — The 2018 Southern California offshore fishing season keeps marching right along as we are in the middle of November. We still have bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, skipjack, yellowtail and Dorado biting offshore. A lack of northern weather systems has allowed offshore water temperatures to remain relatively warm in the 66.5- to 68.5-degree range. Plenty of fish have been content to stay in these water temperatures.

Bluefin tuna were biting very well on Nov. 10 and 11, with lot of sportboats and some private boats catching their respective limits of bluefin tuna. The best bluefin fishing has been at the Cortes Bank and areas to the north and to the east of Bishop Rock.

Bluefin have ranged in size from 20 to 300+ pounds and have been biting on flylined sardines, live squid, flying fish and Flat Fall jigs. Most of the action has come from drifting over meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breaking fish.

Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever, a private boater, fished a recent extended weekend trip to the Cortes Bank and reported finding excellent bluefin fishing. The trip yielded 30 bluefin, a mixed size fish from 20 to 63 pounds. Most were up in the 50- to 63-pound range. Bowers said they tried using flylined sardines, weighted sardines and Flat Fall jigs and said all their bluefin were caught while using flylined sardines. On the first day of their trip, Bowers reported getting a stop from a sonar mark he found in the early morning in the dark. The fish came around the boat and stayed with them all day long and into the next night.

Private boater Tom Golding of Last Buck fished for bluefin at the Cortes Bank on Nov. 10 and reported a fantastic trip with the four anglers aboard catching their limits of bluefin tuna as well as catching and releasing an additional five bluefin. Golding said four of their bluefin were in the 60- to 70-pound range and the rest were in the 25- to 30-pound class. They caught their bluefin by drifting in an area where they were getting meter marks and would see spots of breaking fish.

Capt. Bob Woodard of Christina Lynn fished a long-range trip aboard Spirit of Adventure out of H&M Landing that returned to San Diego on Nov. 7. Woodard reported they had excellent wahoo fishing at Alijos Rocks and on the Ridge and their catch from down that way included 19 anglers catching 198 wahoo and good numbers of the 20-pound class yellowfin tuna.

Capt. Brian later made the long run from the Ridge above the Thetis Bank up to the Cortes Bank to try for bluefin tuna. Woodard said it was a great move to go to the Cortes Bank as they found what was at times, wide open bluefin action on jumbo-sized fish that went to 300+ pounds. Ann Marie from the Spirit of Adventure office reported they caught 17 bluefin weighing more than 200 pounds. Woodard caught the largest bluefin of the trip at 272 pounds. The feeling was that his fish was in excess of 300 pounds before it was bled, gilled and gutted on the trip back to land.

Yellowfin tuna catches have thinned out in some areas but there has been good yellowfin action along with a mix of skipjack, dorado and yellowtail to be found by boats fishing the trench inside of the 60 Mile Bank, the waters around and below the 1010 Trench and the region below the Lower 500 Bank. A private boater Skipper also recently reported getting into a wide open dorado bite while fishing a temperature break found below the south wing tip of the Butterfly Bank.

Striped marlin fishing has been good for boats fishing around the eastern part of Catalina. There have been very few boats out fishing for marlin. Most of the action comes while fishing between the 40 fathom curve and the 100 fathom curve in an area ranging from the Can Dump on over to where you are fishing off Church Rock. The area off the Slide has been a central area of activity within that zone.

There have also been scattered marlin sightings outside of the stretch between San Clemente City and Newport Harbor while fishing 2 to 6 miles off the coast. There has not been much marlin activity in the San Diego region but private boater Marshall Madruga was recently out fishing for rockfish in 40 fathoms of water outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma when a jumper came up and jumped about 10 times within 100 yards of his boat.

Los Coronado Islands are producing a mix of bonito, yellowtail and assorted rockfish. The yellowtail have been mostly 10- to 20-pound fish and the best areas for the surface fishing have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island and the hard bottom areas into the east and the northeast of North Island.

Yo-yo jigs, flylined sardines and sardines fished on a dropper loop rig have worked best for yellowtail. Sardines and small chrome jigs have been working well for bonito. The past weekend had private boaters reporting picking up lots of bonito and an occasional yellowtail while slow trolling sardines at the Middle Grounds.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to produce good mixed bag fishing for bonito, calico bass, sand bass and an assortment of bottom fish. The bonito have been mostly 4 to 7 pound fish and productive areas have been the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Ponto Beach, the Carlsbad Canyon, the Buccaneer Pipeline and the area outside of the Oceanside Pier.

Some of the bonito have been biting while fishing along the edges of the kelp beds or next to structure but the majority were caught by getting trolling strikes out in the deeper 18 to 50 fathom depths. Feathers and Rapalas have been productive on the troll and once bonito are located, flylined sardines and small chrome Megabait style jigs have been working while drifting or anchored.

I hope you keep on fishing our local offshore waters until the warm water pelagic tuna, marlin and dorado actually leave for the winter. We have recently seen some of the best fishing of the year during a time of year often not associated with catching the warm water pelagic species. I hope you have a chance to get out on the water and participate in this late season 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 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 bob976bite@aol.com.


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