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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Will the current weather system knock out the bluefin, marlin and yellowtail bites?
Thanksgiving Day brought Southern California it's first northern weather system of the season and it was a pretty mild front and there were still bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin and yellowtail biting after the storm. Several days later a second more powerful northern weather system arrived with a lot more rain and stronger winds and it is yet to be known what effect this storm system might have on the tuna, marlin and yellowtail bites.


The Cortes Bank region is where the bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna bites have been happening. The first storm resulted in cooler water being found up around the bank proper with warmer water and better fishing being found 6 to 11 miles to the southeasterly of the Bishop Rock area of the Cortes Bank. In looking at a recent water chart that warm water is now even further to the southeast of the Bishop Rock area of the Cortes Bank and my best guess is that looking for warm water will be a key to locating tuna that might still be around after the passing of the current storm. Things are likely changing as this report is being written as this morning (Friday morning, Nov. 30, 2018) wind reports indicate that it was blowing 28+ knots out by the Cortes Bank. My felling is that this is a strong enough wind that it could bring about significant changes to the water conditions.


The three sportboat trips I know of that were fishing the bluefin the day prior to the arrival of the current storm system did find bluefin tuna action. The New Lo-An out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished a 3 day trip and had 22 anglers catch 84 bluefin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing had the Aztec return home from a 1.75 day trip with 26 anglers having caught 20 bluefin tuna. The Pacific Queen out of Fisherman's Landing returned home from a 1.5 day trip with 17 bluefin tuna.


The bluefin have been running from 20 to 200+ pounds with most falling within the 20- to 70-pound range. Best baits and lures for the bluefin have been sardines, live squid, flying fish and Flat Fall jigs. The bluefin have been located by finding meter marks, sonar marks and the occasional spot of breaking fish with sonar marks providing most of the action.


Striped marlin were biting at areas off the East End of Catalina prior to the arrival of the current storm system. Reports were that the first storm system on Thanksgiving day caused a decline in the amount of marlin activity being found but that there were still some marlin around and biting prior to the arrival of the second storm. Recent weeks have seen the fish staying in close to the Island to where they were mostly being located in the 40 to 100 fathom depths between the Rock Quarry and Church Rock. After the first storm moved on there was also some marlin activity reported further off the Island around porpoise and squid for boats fishing between the 125 Spot and the 152 Spot.


Marlin have been located in areas where there has been a lot of life in the way of bait, birds, seals and porpoise. Most of the action has come from blind trolling strikes and dropback baits with some action also coming from baiting sleepers, tailers and feeders. The bite had thinned out after the first storm came through on Thanksgiving Day and my feeling is that this current more powerful storm might change the water enough to shut off the bite. I hope I am wrong about that and I am sure some people will be out looking around for marlin after the storm. It will be interesting to see what might still be around and biting when the storm leaves.


The yellowtail and bonito fishing around the Coronado Islands was very good prior to the arrival of the weather system on Thanksgiving Day. After the weather system passed there were still yellowtail and bonito biting but the yellowtail bite seemed to be tapering off as the days went on. The last sportboat count was prior to the arrival of the current storm and was on Tuesday,  Nov. 27, 2018 when the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a full day trip with 37 anglers catch 10 yellowtail, 48 rockfish and 16 bonito. Compare that to the San Diego's fish count on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 when 36 anglers caught 73 yellowtail and 19 bonito.


The best zone for the yellowtail has been fishing the region of the 27 Fathom Spot that is located between the Rockpile and the Finger Bank. The yellowtail have been 12- to 18-pound fish and have been biting well on yo-yoed iron and on sardines that are fished deep with a dropper loop rig. Most of the action has been coming from meter marks that are found with scanning sonar and private boaters without scanning sonar have been having a harder time locating schools of yellowtail to stop on.


Private boater Pat McDonell of Western Outdoor News and the boat Robalo fished the Coronados the day before the current storm arrived. They fished on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 and reported finding very good bonito fishing and some rockfish biting but did not find any yellowtail activity. McDonell tried many spots around the Islands and found bonito biting most everywhere he went. He said they had good bonito action at the 27 Fathom Spot that is located below the Rockpile, at the Rockpile proper and around both South Island and North Island. The bonito were quality sized fish of 5 to 10 pounds. The big bonito were reported to be fun fish to catch and they were biting on sardines and iron.


Prior to the arrival of the current storm, the fishing along the San Diego County coast was providing good mixed bag fishing for bonito, calico bass, sand bass and an assortment of bottom fish. The bonito have been 3- to 7-pound fish and productive areas have been the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Dropoff at Point Loma, the Green Tank, Point Loma College, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Ponto Beach, the Carlsbad Canyon, the Buccaneer Pipeline and outside of the Oceanside Pier. Of all those areas, the best of the recent bonito fishing was being reported outside of the upper end of La Jolla and by the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma.


Some of the bonito have been biting while fishing hard bottom or kelp bed areas and some have been caught by getting trolling strikes out in the deeper 18 to 50 fathom depths. Feathers and Rapalas have been productive on the troll and once bonito are located, flylined sardines and small chrome Megabait style jigs have been working while drifting or anchored.


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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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