By: Bob Vanian
The Southern California offshore fishing season continues to provide plenty of excitement, as a wide variety of fish are biting in offshore waters within one-day range of Point Loma. It is not uncommon for skippers to report catching dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna and albacore in a single day of fishing.
The area of dorado and yellowtail biting under kelp paddies ranges all the way up into the Catalina Channel, as anglers fishing kelp paddies around the 14-Mile Bank and 267 Spot continue to find dorado and yellowtail biting.
The best areas for a mix of all species have been the 1010 Trench, Double 220 Bank, 213 Bank and 1067 Trench. Some of the tuna species are also biting with dorado and yellowtail in waters even closer to Point Loma, for boats working between the 1010 Trench and the Hidden Bank. These areas have anglers working 40 to 70 miles, 185 to 200 degrees from Point Loma.
There is currently an expansion going on, with regard to areas where tuna species are being found. In the past couple of days, some catches were made by boats fishing around the 295 Bank — and there is a report of both bluefin and yellowfin starting to show at the San Clemente Canyon, into the east of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island.
The yellowfin tuna have been mixed-size fish from 10 to 60 pounds, with most in the 12- to 20-pound class. The albacore being caught continue to be the good-size fish from 25 to 45 pounds.
Bluefin tuna have, for the most part, been in the 15- to 35-pound range, but similar to the yellowfin tuna, there are occasional stops where some bigger fish to 100 pounds enter into the picture.
Dorado catches have been running from 8 to 30 pounds, with most being in the 10- to 15-pound range. Yellowtail have ranged from 3 to 20 pounds, with the majority being in the 6- to 12-pound range.
Some recent catch reports start with private boater Mike Kraus of Blackjack. He fished a recent trip out of Marina Coral in Ensenada, Mexico and reported finding a great bite from a kelp paddy inside of the 295 Bank — 59 miles, 173 degrees from Point Loma.
Kraus reported a red-hot 1.5-hour stop that resulted in 12 bluefin tuna, six yellowfin tuna, six dorado and 10 yellowtail. Their bluefin ranged in size from 20 to 22 pounds, and they had a couple of noteworthy dorado of 22 and 24 pounds. Their best tuna fishing was found once they drifted 200 to 300 yards away from the kelp paddy.
Capt. Chris Abate, of the six-pack charter yacht Prime Time with Prime Time Sportfishing, reported that on a recent one-day trip, the boat returned with 24 yellowfin tuna, 10 dorado, three albacore and 10 yellowtail. Abate reported his best stop was from a kelp paddy at the lower end of the 1010 Trench — 69 miles, 189 degrees from Point Loma.
That hot kelp paddy produced nine dorado, 16 yellowfin tuna and 10 yellowtail. Their three albacore were in the 25- to 28-pound range, and they came from a triple jig strike found below and outside of the Hidden Bank — 45 miles, 190 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Rod Hadrian of Chicken Charlie reported finding an area of breaking yellowfin tuna on a recent trip to the San Clemente Canyon off Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island. He said it was an impressive showing of fish 7 to 8 miles off the island, and there were lots of spots of yellowfin working bait on the surface.
They were all out of bait at the time they found the yellowfin schools, but they did manage two lost hookups on iron that they cast to the spots of breaking fish. Hadrian returned to the area the next morning, and the yellowfin were not showing — but they did manage to catch two bluefin tuna while fishing 12 to 14 miles to the east of the island. The two bluefin bit on the troll and took a cedar plug and a jig that was trolled behind a spreader bar.
Private boater Jim Cook of Ambusher fished a recent trip to the area above the 1010 Trench and reported catching nine bluefin tuna, 11 dorado and one yellowfin tuna. Cook reported finding the action from a kelp paddy 51 miles, 194 degrees from Point Loma.
They found the paddy in the morning and fished it until they ran out of bait at 2:30 p.m. When they left the paddy, it had drifted about 4 miles — and was 51 miles, 191 degrees from Point Loma. Cook said that the fish responded well to slow-trolled sardines when they would slow-troll their baits back to the paddy to make another drift.
Capt. Mike Hadfield, of the six-pack charter yacht Josie Lynn with Point Loma Sportfishing, reported on a recent 1.5-day trip. They fished the 1010 Trench — 61 miles, 194 degrees from Point Loma — and caught 20 yellowfin tuna, four dorado, two skipjack and five yellowtail. Their best fishing came from a long drift that originated from a kelp paddy.
Private boater Scott Zachary of Hole reported fishing out at the Kidney Bank. Kelp paddies were hard to locate, but they found a few — and picked up nine yellowtail and a dorado. The back side of the Kidney Bank was the best while fishing outside of the 224 Spot and the 302 Spot — 25 miles, 225 to 240 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Rick DeVoe of Jaysea fished a recent trip with his sons Ryder and Fisher on a trip out of Marina Coral in Ensenada, Mexico. DeVoe reported finding lots of action while working the area inside of the Lower 500 Bank — 88 miles, 158 to 160 degrees from Point Loma.
They found two productive kelp paddies that produced limits of yellowtail — and additional yellowtail that they caught and released. The yellows were running from 5 to 10 pounds. They kept the bigger ones and released the smaller fish.
They also caught two yellowfin tuna and a dorado from a jig stop, to round out the trip. Their two yellowfin and their dorado came from a double jig strike, where they caught dorado on live bait after the yellowfin trolling strikes.
Private boater Martin Schwartz of Rosie reported fishing kelp paddies around the 14-Mile Bank in the Catalina Channel. Schwartz found a spot early in the morning while fishing a couple of miles below the 14-Mile Bank, where two kelp paddies were close to one another. They were able to catch one dorado from the paddy and lost another hookup before a bunch of boats moved in.
The bite quieted down with all the boat pressure, and they left the two paddies to do some more looking around. They eventually returned to the same kelp paddies later in the day and caught another dorado, to end up with two dorado for the day.
Private boater Bill Davidson of Copout fished a recent trip to the 1010 Trench and reported catching nine dorado, four yellowfin tuna, eight bluefin tuna and a 20-pound yellowtail. Davidson also reported catching additional small yellowtail that they released. Their best stop of the day came from a kelp paddy inside of the 213 Bank — 57 miles, 198 degrees from Point Loma.
Marlin fishing has been up and down, but there has been some action for boats fishing to the east and the northeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island — and also for boats fishing around the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina. The Marlin Club’s ILTT Tournament Sept. 21-22 had two marlin caught and released on the first day of fishing, on 30-pound test line. The boat Flying Fish with skipper Jake Russell and angler Bob Woodard Jr. won the tournament with their released fish — and Old Blue with skipper Marcus Hale and angler Greg Rogers took second place with their release. Hale reported seeing six marlin during the two days of fishing while working an area about 4 miles north of the 289 Spot, inside of San Clemente Island.
Closer to Point Loma, recent days have seen some marlin spotted by boats fishing out around the 43 Fathom Spot, as well as around the 224 Spot at the Kidney Bank. There have been some sleepers and jumpers reported from these areas, but all that has been reported in the way of biting fish during the past couple of days of fishing was a jig bite out by the 43 Fathom Spot.
There have not been many boats fishing at Los Coronados islands, but there have been a few — and they have been finding some hit or miss action on yellowtail. Most of the action has come while slow-trolling nose-hooked sardines.
Areas that have been producing some action on yellows include Pukey Point, the Middle Grounds, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. The yellowtail have been mixed in size, ranging from 3 to 25 pounds.
Private boater John Carroll of Huachinango reported fishing a recent trip to the Coronados, and he had a great day — catching 12 yellowtail while slow-trolling sardines and fishing with drifted sardines at the South Kelp Ridge.
Carroll reported that the yellowtail were mixed-sized fish that went from 6 to 12 pounds.
Carroll returned to the Coronados two days later and found much slower fishing. He caught and released a 3-pound yellowtail and several barracuda. He reported catching and releasing the lone yellowtail at the South Kelp Ridge, and said that they also lost a hookup on a larger-size yellowtail that ran into the kelp.
Carroll reported another lost hookup on a good size yellowtail at Pukey Point, and he said that they caught and released their barracuda at the Ribbon Kelp.
This continues to be a great fishing season, and the prospects for the bite to continue well into the fall appear favorable — if we can avoid an early onslaught of northern storms.
Take advantage of these great fishing opportunities while the fish are around and biting. 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 976-Bite at 976bite.com. Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the phone at (619) 226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.