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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Offshore fishing is a question mark after recent storm
Southern California had seen a very mild season of fall and winter weather but that abruptly ending during the first part of this week when a northern weather system rolled through and brought lots of wind, rain and high seas. The relatively mild weather prior to the recent storm was likely a large part of what was responsible for the bluefin tuna bite that has lasted into this month of January, 2018. The storm that came through early this week was severe enough to cause Gale Warnings to be posted and may well have rolled the water in areas where the bluefin tuna had been holding. No boats that I know of have been out offshore looking for bluefin after the storm so it remains an unknown as to what effect the storm may have had on the bluefin bite. This weekend will likely see some boats out looking around at the 60 Mile Bank and at the offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett where the bluefin had been biting to see what might still be around and biting after the storm.


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Prior to this week's storm the bluefin bite out at the 60 Mile Bank had been fading and the best bluefin bite had been at the offshore waters below and outside of Punta Colnett. Before the storm, the Boot and the 1000 fathom water zone below and outside of the Squiggles had been the best bluefin bite areas at the offshore banks below and outside of Punta Colnett. Boats were fishing these areas while down between 110 and 140 miles from Point Loma and this region had been producing bluefin that were ranging from 15 to 60+ pounds.


Private boater Harry Okuda of the Alfresco III fished on a 1.5 day trip aboard the New Lo-An out of Point Loma Sportfishing on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 and reported about the trip which had 27 anglers catch 54 bluefin tuna.


Okuda reported that they stopped on a meter mark found in the dark while fishing around 110 miles from Point Loma and said that the bluefin stayed with the boat until they limited out and started the engines to head for home. Most of the bluefin were in the 15 to 25-pound range but they also caught larger bluefin that went to 50 pounds. Okuda caught a bluefin of 45 pounds on the trip and said he lost another big bluefin that had nearly spooled his 80-pound test outfit before the hook pulled out. The fish Okuda lost on the 80-pound test outfit had bit in the dark on a 200 gram Flat Fall jig but he said that all the other fish hooked on the trip were hooked on sardines.


Boats fishing in closer to the Mexican coast at the High Spot area off Punta Colnett have been doing very well on reds, assorted rockfish and bonito and have also been finding hit or miss action on 15- to 25-pound class yellowtail. No boats that I know of have fished this zone since the storm earlier this week but there should be some boats giving this area a try again this weekend.


One unseasonably good bite that took a hit from this week's storm was the fishing for yellowtail off Point Loma and Imperial Beach. Prior to the storm some of the half day trips out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay were posting limit catches of yellowtail and the fish have yet to be relocated in 2 days of fishing after the passing of the storm. These were mostly 6- to 10-pound yellowtail that were biting between the Whistler Buoy outside of Point Loma and the International Reef area that is located a short way above the Mexico Border off Imperial Beach.


The yellowtail in region were being located by finding meter marks, sonar marks, trolling strikes and spots of working birds and were biting on trolled Rapalas, drifted sardines, slow trolled sardines, surface iron and yo-yo iron.


Private boater Leo Castleberry of the Grappler reported about fishing for yellowtail on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 and said they had very good fishing while working an area about 2 miles above the Mexico Border in 125 feet of water. They were catching fish from spots of working birds and meter marks and ended up with 8 yellowtail that were in the 7- to 10-pound range. In addition to the yellowtail they boated, they had additional action in the way of several lost hookups. Castleberry reported that they caught all their fish on yo-yoed iron and that good colors were the blue and white color combination and also a red crab color.


Southern California anglers need to keep in mind that the seasonal 2-month rockfish/groundfish closure is in effect in Southern California waters and that they need to travel into Mexican waters to fish for rockfish. In addition to the good rockfish fishing off Punta Colnett, there has been good fishing for rockfish at spots around the Coronado Islands. Reports of good rockfish fishing have been coming from boats fishing the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island and fishing the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank on the Mexico side of the border.


Last reports from the Coronado Islands with regard to surface fishing were that there was some bonito action to be found at the Rockpile, the Middle Grounds and along the weather side of North Island. It could be that some of the yellowtail that had been biting off Point Loma and Imperial Beach have moved into areas around the Coronado Islands after the recent storm. Maybe some boats will give look for yellowtail around the Coronados over the weekend.


With the rockfish fishing closed in Southern California waters, a lot of anglers fishing coastal areas have been fishing hard bottom and structure spots for sand bass, calico bass and sculpin and have also been working sandy bottom areas adjacent to hard bottom and structure areas trying for halibut. With the recent slowing of the yellowtail bite off Point Loma and Imperial Beach, look for more boats to start targeting the bass, sculpin and halibut. Productive areas for bass, sculpin and halibut are the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the sandy bottom and the kelp off the Imperial Beach Pier, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the sandy bottom next to the Yukon Shipwreck and the sandy bottom next to the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the Barn, San Onofre, Trestles and outside of the San Clemente Pier.


A reminder is to get your 2018 California fishing license before fishing in California waters!


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It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where significant catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at www.976bite.com . Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.


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