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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Have storms sent the bluefin and marlin away for the winter?
It has been amazing how late into the year there have been bluefin tuna, kelp paddie yellowtail and striped marlin around in Southern California offshore waters. There were reports about all these species from local offshore waters that lasted into the week before Christmas. Christmas brought with it a strong weather system with rain, gale force winds and high seas and the question yet to be answered is whether there will be any bluefin, kelp paddie yellowtail or marlin around once the weather lays down and some boats go out to do some looking around. Today is Friday, Dec. 28, 2018 and it is the first day of reasonable weather conditions on the offshore fishing grounds since the weather turned bad on Christmas Day. If the weather permits, maybe there will be some boats out doing some looking around offshore on the weekend.


Prior to Christmas Day there was an area of relatively warm 64.5 degree water that ranged from the waters outside of Dana Point on down to the 9 Mile Bank and this 64.5 degree water is where the bluefin, kelp paddie yellowtail and striped marlin were being reported. The showings of bluefin were sporadic and there were just a few bluefin caught that I know of but the right kelp paddie could produce a good yellowtail bite. The last striped marlin sightings that I know of were made about 10 days ago when a boat reported seeing 2 marlin outside of Dana Point. In looking at a water temperature chart it looks like the result of the recent storm is that the water temperature is now down at around 63.5 degrees in the zone where there had been 64.5 degree water before the storm. Time will tell, but I am guessing that weather permitting, there will be some boats out on New Year's Day trying to catch the first bluefin tuna or marlin of 2019.


Areas where bluefin were being seen prior to the recent storm were the Carlsbad Canyon, the area outside of Solana Beach, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank. The best zone for a chance at kelp paddie yellowtail was 6 to 10 miles outside of Oceanside. Areas where striped marlin have been seen in recent weeks have been off the East End of Catalina in the 40 to 100 fathom depths, in the deep water outside of the 277 Spot and in the waters outside of Dana Point.


The last report from the Coronado Islands was from Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 when the Malihini out of H&M Landing was out on a full day trip and found good surface fishing for a mix of bonito and yellowtail and also found good numbers of reds and assorted rockfish biting. The Malihini had had a fish count of 28 anglers on a full day trip catching 8 yellowtail, 50 bonito, 120 rockfish, 45 reds, 11 sheephead and 2 lingcod.


There have been no reports from the Coronados since the recent storm but before the storm, the best chances at finding surface fishing action were while fishing off the weather side of North Island, at the South Kelp Ridge and at the Middle Grounds. Good areas for rockfish have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island while fishing in 35 to 45 fathoms of water.


The fishing along the San Diego area coast has seen a lot of boats transitioning into a rockfish fishing mode and finding good numbers of reds and assorted rockfish biting but there are also some bass biting along with a chance at finding some bonito action or scratching out a halibut. Yellowtail and white seabass fishing has been slow but before the recent storm there had been a bit of improving yellowtail activity.


Some of the more productive rockfish fishing areas have been the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon. Anglers fishing in California waters need to keep in mind that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure in goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.


The best areas for a chance at finding bonito action have been while fishing the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, at the Point Loma Pipeline, outside of the upper end of La Jolla, outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma or outside of Point Loma College. Before the recent storm, boats fishing for reds and rockfish off Box Canyon were also finding occasional bonito action incidental to fishing for the reds and rockfish.


A good way to locate bonito in the Point Loma region has been by finding spots of working birds. Slow trolled swim-baits, trolled Rapalas, small chrome jigs and sardines have been working for the bonito. The bonito have been good sized fish that have been running from 4 to 10 pounds.


The Dolphin out of Fisherman's Landing got into some good bonito fishing on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 27, 2018 and had a fish count of 22 anglers on an afternoon half-day trip catching 67 bonito, 96 rockfish, 23 sheephead, 3 calico bass and 1 sand bass. On their morning half-day trip they had 34 anglers catch 86 rockfish, 6 bonito, 4 sand bass, 3 calico bass and 2 sheephead.


There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive halibut areas include the sandy bottom near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck located outside of Mission Beach and while fishing in San Diego Bay.


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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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