By: Bob Vanian
The start of the surface fishing season in the San Diego area is finally here. The arrival of some good numbers of yellowtail, coupled with some improving numbers of white seabass, has local anglers thinking in terms of fishing for species that do not require the use of heavy sinkers.
The yellowtail action is currently available on two fronts — with La Jolla and the Rockpile area of Los Coronados islands providing good action.
Anglers fishing for white seabass have found some fish in the 40-pound-plus range biting off La Jolla and Del Mar. Most of the yellowtail reported have been in the 15- to 25-pound range.
The yellowtail first started biting at La Jolla, and both sportboat anglers and private boat anglers have been getting in on the action.
A couple of the better recent sportboat counts start with San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing, which had 26 anglers on a three-quarter-day trip catch 15 yellowtail and 20 rockfish. The same day of fishing saw Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing, on a three-quarter day trip with 15 anglers aboard, catch nine yellowtail and five rockfish.
Private boaters’ reports include one from Floyd Sparks of Tuna Kahuna, who caught two yellowtail out of four hookups. Three of the yellowtail hookups were on blue and white Salas 6X Jr. yo-yo jigs and the fourth was on a live greenback mackerel. In addition to two yellowtail, Sparks reported catching a couple of 3-pound calico bass and four rockfish.
Private boater Bill Davidson of Copout reported catching an 18-pound yellowtail on a recent trip. The yellowtail bit a sardine, which was fished with a 1-ounce egg sinker while Davidson was drifting a spot where he had found a meter mark.
Surface iron, sardines and small mackerel have been productive for yellowtail, when presented to spots of breezing fish that are up on the surface. Yo-yo iron, sardines and small mackerel have been a good when working fish that are holding down deep.
The best area for yellowtail has been outside of the upper end of La Jolla, in 20 to 35 fathoms of water. Fish are also showing outside of the lower end of La Jolla, in similar depths.
Anglers are cautioned to be aware of the Marine Life Protection Act-mandated closure areas and to stay out of these zones while fishing. Maps and coordinates for the closed and restricted areas can be found at the California Department of Fish and Game website: dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/.
Improving numbers of white seabass have been biting at the upper end of La Jolla, and there have also been white seabass biting for boats fishing along the edges of the kelp beds at Del Mar.
Squid has been around to catch for bait at night at La Jolla and Del Mar, but the squid fishing has not been easy. Small mackerel and sardines have also been working for white seabass.
A private boater reported picking up a 40-pound white seabass while slow-trolling a greenback mackerel outside of the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla.
Yellowtail have also arrived at Los Coronados islands. Recent days have seen boats fishing the region of the Rockpile being able to meter schools of yellowtail with scanning sonar.
The yellowtail had not been in a biting mode until last weekend, when Malihini out of H&M Landing was successful in getting four yellowtail aboard on an April 22 three-quarter day trip. The16 anglers aboard caught four yellowtail, 61 rockfish and one lingcod.
There are good numbers of rockfish biting at Los Coronados islands. One of the best areas for the rockfish has been along the outer ridge areas, ranging from South Island down to the Rockpile, in 25- to 45-fathom depths.
The hard-bottom areas north of North Island have also been productive, in 30- to 40-fathom depths. The other productive rockfish zone has been at the lower end of the 9-Mile Bank on the Mexican side of the border, in 60 to 80 fathoms of water. The catches in these areas have usually been highlighted by some nice-sized reds and salmon grouper.
In addition to the yellowtail and white seabass fishing along the San Diego County coast, there has also been good fishing for a mix of rockfish, sculpin and bass — and an occasional bonus lingcod or halibut. Productive spots have included the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard-bottom area outside the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, Sunset Cliffs, the upper and lower ends of La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, the Anderson and Buccaneer pipelines, the artificial reefs in front of Oceanside Harbor and Box Canyon.
The surface fishing season has finally arrived. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a banner year.
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 at (619) 226-8218. Vanian’s reports can be heard at 8:20 a.m. each Sunday on the “Let’s Talk Hookup” radio show, at 1090 AM. He always welcomes your fish reports at (619) 226-8218.