Bluefin Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna still biting as November hits

SAN DIEGO— The calendar has rolled over into November and in all likelihood there will still be bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna to target on the local offshore fishing grounds this month. Water temperatures in a lot of offshore areas remain in the 67 to 69.5 degree range and with no strong northern weather systems in the 10 day forecast before this paper went to press. My thinking is that the water will likely remain warm enough to hold the tuna around for a while longer.

The bite on the jumbo sized bluefin tuna off the back side of San Clemente Island had faded for about a two week period but the final days of October have seen the bite rebound and provide pretty good to good action on bluefin that have been running from 100 to 300-plus pounds.

The bluefin are being caught by boats fishing meter marks found in the region of the 81 Fathom Spot, 86 Fathom Spot, 381 Spot, 57 Fathom Spot and the area outside of Lost Point. The pattern of the fishing for the jumbo sized bluefin has been to find a meter mark and to chum the meter mark with sardines while at the same time fishing for the bluefin with a kite or helium filled balloon that is rigged with a flying fish for bait.  The bluefin have been responding to the chum and coming up and boiling around the boat and eating flying fish that are being used for bait while being fished from a kite or from a helium filled balloon.

The best zone for yellowfin tuna has been in the San Diego region with the second to last week of October seeing some days of good fishing on a mix of 10 to 30 pound yellowfin tuna, 40 to 100 pound bluefin tuna and skipjack. These fish are currently being found at offshore banks such as the 371 Bank, the 224 Spot, the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot, the 182 Spot proper, the 138 Spot, the Corner and the 9 Mile Bank. Fishing around these banks has boats spread out over a wide area ranging from 14 to 32 miles 195 to 280 degrees from Point Loma.

The early part of the week of Oct. 21 saw hot yellowfin tuna fishing with near limit to limit yellowfin catches being made to go with good numbers of skipjack and a few bluefin tuna. The bite was hot early in the week but the weekend of Oct. 26 saw the bite tail off to where there were just fair numbers of yellowfin tuna and skipjack biting to go with an occasional bluefin tuna.

Tom Golding of Last Buck reported about fishing when the yellowfin bite was in a state of decline on Sat., Oct. 26. Golding said that they covered a lot of water and found slow fishing while working the 224 Spot, the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot, the 182 Spot proper, the San Salvador Knoll and the 9 Mile Bank. He said they saw quite a few spots of foaming yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna that did not want to bite and reported their catch for the day to be a single skipjack. Golding was optimistic about all the fish they saw but was frustrated by the fact the tuna were not on the bite.

Golding also reported finding a group of five boats that were drifting and fishing at the 224 Spot. He said they saw one of the five boats catch several yellowfin tuna and that they stopped and joined the group of drifting boats. Golding’s report was that while they were there drifting, the bite did not spread from the one boat that was originally catching some yellowfin to any of the other boats drifting and chumming in the hope of raising some yellowfin.

The Catalina region came to life on bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna during the week of Oct. 21, with a report of a jumbo sized 220-plus pound yellowfin tuna being caught at mid-week. The early part of the week saw good bluefin fishing on what were mostly 40 to 80 pound fish for boats fishing 1.5 to 2.5 miles off the stretch of coast between the Balboa Pier and Dana Point. The best zone was reported to be 1.5 miles off the Balboa Pier and the fish were biting well on mackerel that were drifted or slow trolled around meter marks and spots of breaking fish.

The later part of the week was hit or miss for yellowfin tuna action for boats fishing the region of the 152 Spot and the 277 Spot off the East End of Catalina. The yellowfin were biting on mackerel and sardines and the best bet to find some biting fish was to locate porpoise along the ridge that runs outside of the 277 Spot and outside of the 152 Spot. Schools of breaking yellowfin would also lead to action when fished with poppers, sardines and mackerel. Other locations in the Catalina region that produced some tuna action during the week were the 267 Spot, 14 Mile Bank, Avalon Bank and the Slide.

Marlin fishing has been scratchy but there has been an occasional marlin encounter reported in the Catalina area and the San Diego area. In the San Diego region the past week saw a marlin caught and released and another lost marlin hookup. This action was reported incidental to tuna fishing by boats that were fishing the region of the 224 Spot and the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot. In the Catalina area, there have been occasional marlin sightings reported around the 14 Mile Bank, off Avalon, off the Slide and around the 152 Spot.

Boats continue to have success with fishing for swordfish via the deep drop method. Over the weekend of Oct. 26, there were reports about two swordfish being caught. One was caught while fishing around the eastern part of Catalina and the other was caught while fishing the Ridge in the region of the 138 Spot. Productive deep drop swordfish areas in the Catalina region have been fishing around the 152 Spot and while fishing off the stretch between the Slide and Avalon. In the San Diego region the 178 Spot and the outside edge of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank have been the spots that have been producing most of the action.

There have not been many boats fishing around Los Coronado Islands because of the good offshore tuna fishing in local waters but there was a boat that fished at Los Coronados Sat., Oct. 26 and found good fishing for an assortment of rockfish and also found some bonito biting. The boat was Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing that had a full day trip with 24 anglers catch 40 bonito and 120 rockfish.

A couple of good spots to try for bonito would be the Rockpile and the weather side of North Island. Productive bottom fishing areas have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at hard bottom areas to the north, the northwest and the northeast of North Island while fishing in 20 to 45 fathoms of water.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, reds, rockfish, whitefish and sculpin and there has also been a chance at catching a bonus bonito, lingcod, halibut or yellowtail. The best zone for a chance at scratching out a yellowtail along the coast has been at the upper end of La Jolla but the yellowtail fishing has been slow.

Calico bass are still biting at kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast but a lot of boats have been focusing on fishing for rockfish. Productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Solana Beach and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon.

In addition to the kelp bed areas, hard bottom and structure spots have also been producing some bass and sculpin with productive places being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom spots between the Imperial Beach Pipeline and the Mexico border, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

Rockfish are what a lot of the coastal sportboat fishing trips have been focusing on lately.  There have been recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.

Captain Joe Cacciola of Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that he has still been fishing some trips to the kelp beds between South Carlsbad and Solana Beach to target calico bass and says they have been finding good mixed bag fishing for calico bass, sand bass, rockfish, sheephead and whitefish.

Cacciola said that the numbers of calico bass being caught are not as good as they were during the height of the summer season but says they have been catching a better percentage of keeper sized calicos.  He mentioned that on a recent trip that they caught, photographed and released a 20 inch calico bass.

Cacciola reports that some of the other Oceanside Sea Canter boats have been focusing on fishing for rockfish and says there have been good numbers of rockfish biting at hard bottom spots in 200 to 350 feet of water while fishing areas such as Box Canyon, Ponto Beach, Leucadia, Solana Beach and the upper part of Del Mar.

The month of November is here as this report is being written and it is great to say that anglers can still go out and target exotic offshore species such as bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, marlin and swordfish or fish the local Islands and the coast for species such as calico bass, bonito, sand bass, sculpin, whitefish, reds and rockfish. There are a lot of great fish to choose in planning what you would like to target in a day of 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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