Warming waters translates to improving bluefin, calico bass and yellowtail bites

SAN DIEGO — The first day of summer arrives on June 21 and the water temperatures are starting to warm up as one would expect during this time of year. The increase in water temperature has coincided with improved and warming weather conditions. The rising water temperatures are now up in the 65- to 70-degree range along the San Diego County coast and in the 66- to 68-degree range on the offshore fishing grounds. These water temperatures reflect a 2- to 5-degree increase during the first 10 days of June.

            Bluefin tuna and yellowtail continue to bite offshore and there have been a few yellowfin tuna in the mix. Bluefin have been biting while fishing out to the southwest of San Martin Island at 155 to 160 miles from Point Loma. This zone to the southwest of San Martin Island is where a few yellowfin tuna and kelp paddie yellowtail have been found. Most of the bluefin in this zone have been in the 25- to 35-pound class. Some of the more productive sportboat trips fishing down this way have returned home with limits of bluefin tuna.

In more local offshore waters, boats have been finding some action on a mix of bluefin tuna and yellowtail while fishing out to the west and southwest of the 371 Bank. This area has you fishing from 30 to 38 miles 215 to 228 degrees from Point Loma.

The bluefin in this zone out to the west of the 371 Bank have been mostly the 25- to 40-pound fish but there are fish to 200 pounds being seen and sometimes caught. A 173-pound bluefin was reportedly caught aboard Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing on June 10.

As an example of the recent fishing, Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing fished a 1.5-day trip on June 9 and had 23 anglers catch seven bluefin. Tribute out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished an overnight trip on June 10 and had 16 anglers catch four bluefin tuna and one yellowtail.

The fishing around Los Coronado Islands has been good for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass. Skippers have been finding good action while fishing a variety of areas with the best reports coming from the weather side of South Island and the Middle Grounds. Recent days have seen some of the yellowtail counts get well up over the 100 mark on the yellowtail.

Halibut have also been more active around Los Coronado Islands in recent days. There was a recent report from a private boater who had caught four legal sized halibut while drifting sandy bottom areas inside of South Island. Anglers focusing on calico bass and barracuda have done well while fishing kelp bed spots such as the Ribbon Kelp and South Kelp. Calico bass have also been active in shallow water around the boiler rock structure of the Islands.

The yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands have been found by locating meter marks, sonar marks and spots of fish up working on the surface. Yellows have also been located by getting trolling strikes on Rapalas or trolling strikes on slow trolled sardines. Once located, the yellowtails have been biting well on flylined sardines, surface iron and yo-yo iron. The yellowtails have been running from 6 to 20 pounds, with the majority of the fish in the 8- to 16-pound range.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to produce an occasional nice sized yellowtail or white sea bass at the upper end of La Jolla and there is also a chance at scratching out a nice sized white sea bass while fishing with live mackerel at the Barn Kelp and View Point areas above Oceanside. The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, rockfish, whitefish and an occasional halibut.

If you want to give La Jolla a try for yellowtail, the best bet has been fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla with a live mackerel, surface iron or yo-yo iron while out in the 18 to 30 fathom depths. Looking for meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breaking fish has been the best way to locate yellowtail. The best bet for a white sea bass at La Jolla has been slow trolling with a live mackerel along the edges of the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla.

Calico bass are biting well at some of the kelp bed areas up and down the San Diego County coast. Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports the water temperatures in the kelp bed areas they have been fishing between Leucadia and Solana Beach have jumped up from the 63- to 65-degree range to 68- to 70-degree water. The water in the kelp beds has been an off color green and Cacciola says the water cleans up a bit when a moderate current is running.

Halibut fishing has been improving along the coast with some legal sized halibut reported to be biting for boats fishing outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, inside of San Diego Bay, outside of Mission Beach, off Solana Beach and off Leucadia. Fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to structure and the sandy bottom adjacent to kelp and hard bottom has been the best bet.

Private boater Rex Finney reported a recent catch of two legal sized halibut while fishing in San Diego Bay. His experience is the halibut start getting active once the water temperature gets up to around 65 degrees.

There have been some pretty good to sometimes good numbers of yellowtail and calico bass biting at San Clemente Island. Best areas for yellowtail have been while fishing off West Cove, Pyramid Cove, White Rock and Purse Seine Rock. Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and calico bass. Squid has been hard to catch for bait but at times Skippers report being able to jig a bit of squid for bait at night at West Cove and Pyramid Cove.

There have been some pretty good numbers of yellowtail biting for boats fishing spots around the middle part of the front side of Catalina Island, as well as for those fishing the back side at spots between the V’s and Ben Weston.

The spring fishing season is getting ready to roll over into summer and the water temperatures and the fishing are both heating up. The prime summer months are upon us and I hope you can get on the water and get in on the 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.

Photo Credit: Tribute Sportfishing

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