SAN DIEGO — Southern California anglers have had a lengthy run of bluefin tuna, which has seen good fishing bluefin fishing extend from the 2017 spring fishing season through the New Year and into 2018. The past weekend, however, saw the second strong winter storm of 2018 pass through Southern California and it is yet to be determined if bluefin are still hanging around in local or regional waters.
There was very good bluefin fishing ahead of the storm but the storm brought with it gale force winds and high seas, potentially having an adverse effect on water conditions and sent the bluefin away. We will know the effect of the storm once boats get back out on the fishing grounds and have a chance to do some looking around.
Ahead of the recent storm, boats were finding near limit to limit fishing on quality sized bluefin, to 160 pounds. The most recent fish counts from boats out on 1.5-day trips ahead of the storm were Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing; the vessel headed out Jan. 18 and returned home with 31 anglers catching 54 bluefin tuna. Fisherman’s Landing’s report stated four of the bluefin aboard Pacific Queen were in the 100- to 160-pound range.
New Lo-An out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished on Jan. 17 and had 24 anglers catch limits of 48 bluefin tuna. Point Loma Sportfishing’s report was the bluefin were quality-sized fish with most falling within the 40- to 60-pound range.
There have not been many boats fishing around Los Coronado Islands in recent days but the last reports were that that the fishing was good for an assortment of rockfish and that there was also a chance at locating yellowtail or bonito. The best areas for the bottom fishing have been while fishing on the Mexico side of the border at the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and while fishing at the hard bottom areas into the north and to the northwest of North Island. A good depth for the rockfish while fishing to the north and northwest of North Island has been in 50 fathoms of water.
It is hard to know if there is still any action to be found on yellowtail or bonito at Los Coronados. At last report, there were some yellowtail biting at hard bottom areas into the north of North Island but it has been a while since anyone I know of has given it a try. The last sportboat trip I know of fishing Los Coronados Islands was on Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing. Its Jan. 13 three-quarter-day trip with 14 anglers came back home with 23 yellowtail, 5 calico bass, 15 whitefish, 1 halibut, 70 rockfish, one lingcod and 15 reds.
Premier out of H&M Landing has been fishing weekday morning half-day trips into Mexican waters that have been primarily targeting rockfish. As an example of the recent fishing, on Jan. 16, Premier had 10 anglers catch 35 reds, 64 rockfish and one lingcod.
With the annual two-month rockfish/groundfish closure in effect in Southern California waters until March 1, a lot of anglers fishing coastal areas have been targeting sand bass, calico bass and sculpin by fishing hard bottom and structure spots and have been targeting halibut by fishing sandy bottom areas that are often adjacent to hard bottom and structure spots. One of the best areas for bass, sculpin and halibut in the San Diego region has been the Imperial Beach Pipeline with boats from both San Diego Bay and Mission Bay often fishing this zone.
An ongoing reminder is to get your 2018 California fishing license before fishing in California waters! I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the winter fishing. Choose your days wisely with regard to weather conditions and enjoy some of the fun wintertime 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.