SAN DIEGO—The late part of the 2019 Southern California offshore fishing season has been outstanding with good numbers of yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna continuing to bite as we approach Thanksgiving. Last week saw the first cold weather storm of the season come through Southern California and anglers were anxious to find out what effect the three days of wet and stormy weather might have on the tuna fishing. The answer was a good one with good numbers of yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna still around and biting after the storm. The question now at issue is what effect the next cold weather system is going to have with Southern California, which bracing for three more days of rain, wind and high seas – all of which are forecast for the day before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving.
The current good tuna bite areas are in the region of the Corner, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy and the deep water basin to the southwest of the 43 Fathom Spot. Action has been coming from an area spread from 33 to 47 miles 247 to 255 degrees from Point Loma. Prior to the storm that came through last week there were yellowfin, bluefin, kelp paddie yellowtail and skipjack biting at spots within 25 miles of Point Loma for boats fishing at the 9 Mile Bank, 178 Spot, 224 Spot and 302 Spot but since the last storm front went though those areas have been producing some yellowtail and a few skipjack but nothing much in the way of yellowfin tuna or bluefin tuna.
Time will tell what effect the upcoming weather system might have on the tuna fishing. The yellowfin and bluefin are currently being found in 63.5- to 64.5-degree water and if it cools much more, they will likely begin to migrate out of our waters to spend time in warmer waters for the winter months. It is the cycle of nature and it happens every year.
The yellowfin are good sized fish with most running between 25 and 40 pounds. The bluefin are mostly in the 15- to 60-pound range, with occasional bluefin encountered in the 100- to 125-pound range. Yellowfin and bluefin action has been coming from stopping on meter marks, sonar marks, kelp paddies, spots of breezing fish, spots of breaking fish, skipjack trolling strikes and yellowfin trolling strikes. Sardines have been working best for bait with mackerel, Colt Snipers and Flat Fall jigs also producing some action.
Private boater Marcus Hale of Cabrilla fished a recent tuna trip and reported finding a very good yellowfin bait stop while fishing below and outside of the Corner at 33 miles 251 degrees from Point Loma. Hale said they found the hot yellowfin stop in 64.5-degree water and reported that the stop started by getting a double yellowfin trolling strike where the two troll fish bit on a cedar plug and a Rapala.
Hale said they caught 12 yellowfin out of that stop and the yellowfin were quality sized 25- to 40-pound fish filling their fish bag. In the early morning they had also found a kelp paddie producing limits of 3- to 5-pound yellowtail while fishing 2 miles outside of the 224 Spot which puts you at 24 miles 236 degrees from Point Loma. Hale reported it to be a very nice day out on the water and he called it a very good day of fishing.
Tom Golding of Last Buck fished a recent tuna trip and reported finding a great yellowfin bait stop where they drifted and caught yellowfin from 10:00 a.m. until they left to head for home at sunset. They caught 27 yellowfin out of the stop, ranging from 30- to 35-plus pounds. Golding said by the time they headed for home, they had filled all their ice chests, hatches and fish hold space with yellowfin tuna!
Areas that have produced recent swordfish action while deep drop fishing have been the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina, the Slide, the area outside of Avalon and the coastal drop-off shelf outside of Newport Beach, Abalone Point and Oceanside. In the San Diego region, productive areas have been the 178 Spot and the outside edges of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank. Large squid and mackerel have been effective baits with the large squid usually working the best.
There has not been much news coming from Los Coronado Islands lately with most boats continuing to fish the good tuna bite offshore. There was a recent private boater report from a Skipper who had spent some time fishing Pukey Point and the area along the weather side of North Island who had found the surface fishing to be slow.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast is into what is mostly a bottom fishing mode with reds, rockfish, sculpin, bass and whitefish making up the bulk of the catch. There have also been occasional flurries of bonito action by the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and off Imperial Beach while fishing the region of the International Reef. Locating bonito activity has been hit or miss but there have been some showings of bonito in recent days.
There are still some calico bass biting at kelp bed areas along the San Diego County Coast but more and more of the coastal fishing for bass, sculpin, reds, rockfish and whitefish is being done at hard bottom and structure spots. Productive areas have been at the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #5 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Leucadia, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.
Southern California anglers have been blessed with a good long tuna season with bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna biting late into the year ahead of Thanksgiving. Time will tell what will be around in the way of tuna after the next weather system passes through. Be it fishing offshore for tuna or swordfish, fishing at the local Islands or fishing along the coast, I hope you get a chance to get out on the water in some nice weather and enjoy some 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.