Yellowtail bite at Los Coronado Islands marks the beginning of springtime style fishing!

SAN DIEGO—It is a couple of days before the official start of spring (which begins March 20) as this report is being written but the past weekend (March 16 and 17) appeared to mark the beginning of what a lot of anglers would consider to be “springtime” or “spring-like” fishing. A steady series of weather systems forced anglers to find ways to drop lines during the past two months, and there had not been much in the way of surface fishing action going on until four days ahead of the official start of spring. Good yellowtail fishing found at this time near the Rockpile region of Los Coronado Islands.

The yellowtails biting in the region of the Rockpile are reported to be quality sized 10- to 15-pound fish. They have been biting best on yo-yoed iron that is dropped down to fish that are located by finding meter marks and sonar marks. Good jig choices include Salas 6X, 6X Jr. and 7X sized yo-yo jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg and sardine colors. In addition to yo-yoed iron, there have also been some yellowtails biting on sardines that are fished deep on a dropper loop rig.

The yellowtail have been biting in an area within 3 miles of the high spot at the Rockpile with the past couple of days seeing yellows found to the southwest, the east and the southeast of the high spot.

The fish counts for boats fishing the Rockpile region on March 17 start with Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing, which had 13 anglers on a full-day trip catching 16 yellowtails, six rockfish and one lingcod. H&M Landing had Grande fishing a full-day trip with 13 anglers who caught 51 rockfish, seven lingcod and three yellowtails. Fisherman’s Landing had a full-day trip aboard Liberty with 20 anglers who caught 34 yellowtails, 50 rockfish, eight lingcod and three bonito. Seaforth Sportfishing had a full-day trip aboard San Diego fishing with 17 anglers catching 15 yellowtails, three bonito and 100 rockfish.

In addition to the fishing for yellowtail around the Coronado Islands, there has also been good fishing for rockfish at hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 40 to 65 fathoms of water. Another productive rockfish zone has been while fishing the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in 25 to 40 fathoms of water.

There are indeed some nice sized bonito around in the region of Los Coronado Islands. A private boater report on March 16 stated there were a few large bonito biting on slow trolled sardines while they were fishing along the weather side of North Island.

Boats fishing the Punta Colnett region on 1.5-day trips continue to find very good mixed bag fishing for species that included an assortment of reds, rockfish, lingcod, bonito and yellowtail. On March 16, Old Glory out of H&M Landing had a 1.5-day trip with 17 anglers who caught 85 reds, 69 yellowtail, 27 rockfish and four bonito.

The San Diego County coastal fishing has been good for a mix of reds, rockfish, calico bass, sand bass and sculpin. There have also been a few bonus lingcod and halibut biting to round out the catch. There has not been much yellowtail action reported but there are some spots of breezing yellowtail starting to show outside of La Jolla. Look for this bite to develop as the water and weather conditions continue to settle and improve.

Productive rockfish areas off the San Diego County coast have been the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin off the San Diego County coast with productive areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

There has been unusually good fishing for quality sized reds for boats fishing some of the San Diego County coastal areas and Capt. Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports the Oceanside Sea Center boats have been finding very good fishing for quality sized reds and good numbers of additional assorted rockfish while fishing hard bottom areas outside of Box Canyon as well as while fishing hard bottom areas between South Carlsbad and Solana Beach.

Cacciola added some of the shallower water hard bottom and structure areas have been producing a nice mix of sand bass, calico bass, sheephead, whitefish and sculpin. Try shallow water hard bottom and structure areas such as the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the Buccaneer Pipeline and the Anderson Pipeline.

Fish counts from the fishing along the San Diego County coast for March 17 start with the Oceanside Sea Center that had two half-day trips aboard Chubasco II fishing with a total of 46 anglers who combined to catch 420 assorted rockfish.

The spring fishing season is upon us and in some areas “spring-like” fishing has already arrived a few days ahead of the actual arrival of spring. There are still some weather systems forecasted to be moving through Southern California and as always, anglers need watch the weather reports closely and pick the good weather days to do their 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 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


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