By: Bob Vanian
SAN DIEGO — The awesome offshore fishing season continues to roll along with yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dorado and yellowtail combining to provide some fantastic fishing. Marlin fishing has also improved and there are rumors about a wahoo being caught at the 302 Spot. There might well be something to the concept of there being some wahoo around in local offshore waters as there have been reports of mystery bite-offs on live bait outfits and trolling gear that could logically be attributed to the razor sharp teeth of a wahoo going up against something other than a steel leader.
One negative thing to report is that the bluefin tuna closure in Mexican waters is still in effect as of the time of this writing. A couple of weeks ago there was an indication that the closure was going to come to an end but the end of the closure has not yet been memorialized in writing by the Mexican government. In conversations with Conapesca representatives in San Diego their directive is that all bluefin tuna caught in Mexican waters should be released until such time as the Mexican government issues a written document ending the closure. At the time of this writing, a document ending the bluefin tuna closure has not yet been issued or received.
The offsetting good news is that there are some bluefin tuna to be caught on the United States side of the Mexican border. The bluefin have been mixed size fish that have been running from 15 to 80 pounds with most in the 18 to 25 pound range. Most of the yellowfin tuna have been falling within 8 to 30 pound range with a few larger yellowfin (that might actually be bigeye tuna) reported that go up to 50 pounds. The dorado have been running from 10 to 20 pounds and the yellowtail have ranged from small throwback sized fish on up to 20 pounds.
There are tuna, yellowtail and dorado biting from the 14 Mile Bank in the Catalina Channel all the way down to the region of the 238 Spot outside of Ensenada. The best catches in recent days have come from boats fishing around and about the 181 Spot, the 182 Spot, the 312 Spot, the 43 Fathom Spot, the Corner, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 230 Spot and the 371 Bank.
The stops have been coming from blind jig strikes, drifting around spots of working tern birds, drifting near spots of breaking fish, porpoise schools, meter marks, drifting around kelp paddies and drifting around hammerhead sharks. It is unusual, but good yellowfin tuna stops are regularly being found by stopping and fishing near a hammerhead shark in similar fashion to the way you would stop and fish around a kelp paddie.
Productive jigs on the troll have been natural color cedar plugs, black and purple color cedar plugs and mackerel color cedar plugs. Good color trolling feathers have been the broomtail zucchini, black and purple, black and green as well as Mexican flag. Black and purple color X-Rap Rapalas have also been reported to be working well on the troll.
Some reports from the past few days of fishing start with a report from Capt. Scott Meisel of Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing who reported about a recent 1.5 day trip. Meisel had a great trip with 111 yellowfin tuna and 1 yellowtail. He also mentioned his prior 1.5 day trip where they caught 134 yellowtail. Near limit to limit yellowfin tuna fishing has been reported on recent trips with a chance at adding a mix of yellowtail, dorado and bluefin tuna to compliment the excellent yellowfin tuna fishing. Meisel remains impressed with how far and wide the catches of yellowfin tuna are spread over many miles of ocean.
Private boater Capt. Ron Bowers of Salt Fever reported about a 2 day trip where he fished the area between the 224 Spot and the Corner and found limit yellowfin tuna fishing. Bowers reported finding a kelp paddie on the morning of the first day of the trip that led to a yellowfin stop that lasted all day long. It was outstanding fishing and they had the long stop while fishing out at 30 miles 241 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater John Carroll of Huachinango reported fishing a recent trip where they had to settle for mackerel for bait as the bait receivers in San Diego Bay had run out of sardines and anchovies. They caught three yellowfin tuna on the day but it was a frustrating day of fishing for them as they were in an area where they were looking at other boats that were limiting out on yellowfin tuna while using sardines and anchovies for bait. They caught one of their yellowfin on a mackerel that was fished deep with a 2 ounce sliding sinker, another of their yellowfin was caught on a Megabait iron and the third was caught on the troll. They had their action while fishing out near the Corner at 35 miles 248 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Randy Verhooven of the Grainmaker made a late afternoon run out to the tuna grounds and reported catching lots of yellowfin tuna from a 2 hour bait stop that started with a trolling strike. They found the hot action while fishing out to the west of the 302 Spot at 24 miles 228 degrees from Point Loma. Verhooven reported that the yellowfin stayed with them and kept biting until they ran out of bait. They easily limited out on yellowfin tuna and caught and released additional fish until they had used all their bait.
Private boater Rex Finney reported fishing in the San Diego Rod and Reel Club’s monthly tournament and catching 3 yellowfin tuna. Finney reported that their yellowfin weighed 24, 22 and 12 pounds and said that their two biggest yellowfin won first and second place in the tournament. Finney chose to fish the area at the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot based on information that some nicer sized yellowfin had been biting in this zone. They made their winning catch out of one stop while using mini-mac sized mackerel for bait and were fishing at 29 miles 251 degrees from Point Loma.
Private boater Norm Gerome fished with Tom Miller in the Make A Wish Tuna Challenge on Miller’s boat Sea Life. Gerome reported that they got into a wide open 3 hour long kelp paddie stop that started with a dorado hookup and then turned into non stop action on bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna. Their total was 23 bluefin tuna and seven yellowfin tuna and they had fish that ranged in size from 16 to 22.8 pounds. This hot kelp paddie stop was had in the area of the Corner at 30 miles 256 degrees from Point Loma.
The Make A Wish Tuna Challenge was held on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 with the post tournament banquet and awards ceremony being held at Silver Gate Yacht Club the following day. It was another grand event with 336 anglers and 76 boats participating. There were 10 junior anglers and 29 lady anglers were among the participants. Lots of great prizes and awards were issued but what was most important is that in excess of $215,000 was raised to benefit the Make A Wish charity and provide wishes for kids with life threatening illnesses. Congratulations and thanks go out to the many organizers, sponsors and participants that made this happen!
Some of the fishing highlights in the Make A Wish Tuna Challenge start with Lawrence Duffin who was fishing aboard the Finology and who caught a 67.3 pound bluefin tuna that won the Richard Thomas Memorial Grand Prize. The big bluefin was caught while fishing out by the 60 Mile Bank. The big bluefin also helped boost the boat Finology’s weigh in total and helped the Finology win the first place team award in the Large Boat Division.
The team aboard Wet-Os won the Small Boat Division Team Total award. The high club award went to the San Diego Marlin Club. Ed Tschernoscha of the King Fin and Baja Fish Gear won the first place individual award in the Large Boat Division for his 35.4 pound yellowfin tuna. The first place individual award in the Small Boat Division was a 24.8 pound yellowfin tuna caught by Jerry Laszcazak while fishing aboard Plan B.
Ashley Herrera was fishing on Hurricane and won the High Lady Angler award for catching a 22.4 pound yellowfin tuna. The Largest Dorado Award was won by Andy Redding while fishing aboard Wet-Os. James Villalobos won the Charterboat Division by for catching a 22.8 pound yellowfin while fishing aboard Sauerfish.
In the 11 years old and under juniors division, Ryan Herrera won first place with an 18.6 pound yellowfin while fishing aboard Hurricane. Daniel Stuart caught a 20.2 pound yellowfin tuna while fishing aboard Endorfin and won first place in the 12 to 15 years old juniors division.
Marlin fishing has been good for boats fishing the Osborn Bank as well as at the 125 and 172 Spots off the West End of Catalina. My estimation is that 10 to 12 marlin were caught and released by boats fishing these areas over the past weekend. In other areas around Catalina, there has also been recent marlin activity reported around the Avalon Bank and 14 Mile Bank.
In the San Diego region there were an estimated 3 or 4 marlin caught and released over the last weekend with two of those being caught and released by boats fishing in the Make A Wish Tuna Challenge. The best areas for marlin activity in the San Diego region have been the 43 Fathom Spot, the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot and the 9 Mile Bank.
The fishing at Los Coronado Islands has not been sampled much due to the excellent offshore tuna fishing but it seems like every time someone gives it a try they find some yellowtail, bonito, bass and barracuda biting. The best areas for yellowtail have been the Middle Grounds, the lee side of South Island, the South Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge.
The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, bonito, barracuda, sand bass, yellowtail and rockfish. Kelp bed areas are producing most of the action with the kelp beds at Point Loma, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad, the Barn, San Onofre and San Mateo being top spots. A couple of places where some of the better numbers of yellowtail have been biting have been at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and outside of La Jolla.
Capt. Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside reports very good fishing for calico bass along with a mix of bonito, sand bass, barracuda and yellowtail while fishing kelp bed areas between South Carlsbad and Solana Beach.
Cacciola has also been running occasional offshore three-quarter day trips and reports catching a mix of tuna, yellowtail and dorado while fishing areas that are about 15 miles off the coast outside of the stretch between Encinitas and La Jolla.
The fall fishing season is not far off and it could provide some of the best fishing of what has already been an incredibly good year. 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.