Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Southern California anglers dodging weather systems
The biggest fishing news is currently all about the weather as the past couple of days have seen poor weather conditions in Southern California that have included thunderstorms, rain, wind and high seas. More bad weather is forecasted to be in store over the next several days with gale warnings currently posted for Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 and with continued poor weather forecasted into the middle of the following week.

Even on the good weather days that we had early in the week there were not many anglers venturing offshore to look for bluefin tuna and kelp paddie yellowtail. The bites on those species slowed last weekend and I think a lot of anglers are waiting for better numbers of fish to be relocated before giving it another try. At last report the best chance at finding bluefin activity was on the Ridge about half way between the 181 Spot and the 182 Spot. The most recent good report about kelp paddie yellowtail was from a week ago by a boat fishing the Upper Hidden Bank area below the Coronado Islands. There have not been any boats that I know of that have been fishing down that way since that time. The inside high spot at the Upper Hidden Bank is located at 39 miles 182 degrees from Point Loma.

Most of the bluefin activity has been found in areas where there is a lot of bird life. Bluefin action has come from stopping on meter marks, spots of breezing fish, spots of breaking fish or foamer spots of fish. The bluefin that have been seen and sometimes caught have been in the 50- to 80-pound range. Sardines and mackerel have been the best baits for the bluefin and the bluefin strikes were coming by drifting or slow trolling with the sardines or mackerel in areas where breaking bluefin were showing or where meter marks were being found. There has also been occasional bluefin action on Flat Fall jigs and surface iron.

There is not much news coming from the Coronado Islands during the week but last weekend there was good fishing for rockfish and there was some improved surface fishing action for bonito and a chance at a yellowtail. The Malihini out of H&M Landing fished full day trips around the Coronado Islands over the weekend and they found very good mixed bag fishing for reds, an assortment of rockfish, large bonito and a few yellowtail. Captain Bill Wilkerson of the Malihini reported that the bonito were jumbo sized fish that were running from 8 to 12 pounds. On Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 the Malihini had a full day trip with 14 anglers catch 70 rockfish (limits of rockfish), 35 reds, 3 yellowtail and 42 bonito.

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 50 fathoms of water. Best area for a chance at finding some surface fishing action has been while fishing along the weather side of North Island.

The Premier out of H&M Landing has been running weekday half day trips into Mexican waters that usually target rockfish. On these trips they tend to fish the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island. They were able to get in a trip before the poor weather arrived on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 and 7 anglers on a half day trip caught their limits of 70 assorted rockfish.

Sportboats have been running 1.5 day trips to fish Punta Colnett and they have been catching a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod, whitefish and an assortment of rockfish. Try to find meter marks, sonar marks or spots of working birds to locate the yellowtail. Once yellows are located, try yo-yoed iron or sardines fished on a dropper loop rig. The yo-yoed iron has been working best.

Fish count for boats fishing 1.5 day trips to Punta Colnett on Saturday, January 26, 2019 start with the Relentless out of H&M Landing that fished a 1.5 day trip with 19 anglers who caught 120 rockfish, 35 bonito, 26 yellowtail and 1 lingcod.

Fisherman's Landing had the Pacific Queen fishing a 1.5 day trip with 34 anglers who caught 170 rockfish and 67 yellowtail.

Seaforth Sportfishing had the Tribute fishing a 1.5 day trip with 21 anglers who caught 120 rockfish, 30 reds, 28 bonito and 19 yellowtail. They also had the Tomahawk fishing a 1.5 day trip with 25 anglers who caught 125 reds, 65 rockfish, 40 bonito, 10 whitefish, 6 lingcod and 4 yellowtail.

Point Loma Sportfishing had the New Lo-An fishing a 1.5 day trip with 22 anglers who caught 85 rockfish and 40 yellowtail.

Private boater Tom Parnakian of the Ambush fished Punta Colnett aboard the Tribute on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 and reported about the trip. He said they spent the first part of the day drifting over meter marks and fishing for yellowtail with yo-yoed iron. The current was running strong and Parnakian said you needed a large heavy yo-yo jig such as a Salas 6X or a Salas 7X to get the jig down to the bottom and fish effectively.

Parnakian reported that the yellowtail they were catching were in the 20- to 25-pound class and that they had one that was considerably larger at 30+ pounds. The scrambled egg color jig seemed to be working best but other colors were also producing some action. Parnakian caught a 20-pound yellowtail out of 3 yellowtail hookups. The yellowtail he caught was on a Salas 6X jig in scrambled egg color and he then lost the jig on the next hookup to a broken line near the jig. The big yellowtail was able to make it to the bottom and rub the line on the rocks.

Parnakian described it as a slow pick yellowtail bite where they would catch a couple of yellows per each 30+ minute drift. The yellowtail bite dropped off around noon and then they switched over to fishing for rockfish. The bottom fishing was good and he caught a big red, a smaller sized red, a good sized whitefish, a few small salmon grouper and two of the jumbo sized 5- to 7-pound salmon grouper. Cut squid and live sardines were working well for the bottom fishing.

Parnakian said he enjoyed his trip aboard the Tribute and that there was a nice group of people aboard for the Pelagic sponsored trip.

Anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border need to keep in mind that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure went into effect on January 1, 2019. Anglers seeking to fish for the rockfish/groundfish species that are covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters to fish for those species until the closure comes to an end on March 1, 2019.

The fishing along the San Diego area coast is providing a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin and has also been producing a few halibut. There has not been very much happening on yellowtail but there are some yellowtail around. There was a yellowtail caught last weekend by a boat fishing the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla and early this week, there was a spot of yellowtail seen up on the surface under working birds by a boat fishing outside of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. The white seabass bite has been slow but there has been an occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for bass and sculpin.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure area 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.

Captain Mike Hadfield of the 6 pack charter yacht Josie Lynn with Point Loma Sportfishing reported about a recent half day trip where they fished at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and found good fishing for sand bass that included two jumbo sized fish of 5 and 6.5 pounds. They had lots of action and the 4 anglers aboard caught 8 legal sized sand bass and also caught and released additional short sized fish. Hadfield has also been running open party lobster hoop netting trips in the evenings and catching legal sized lobster. On their last trip they had 2 anglers catch 8 legal sized California spiny lobster and catch and release 10 short sized California spiny lobster.

Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that the Oceanside Sea Center boats continue to do well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area. In addition to the good sculpin fishing at Box Canyon, they have also found unseasonably good fishing for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and an occasional halibut, triggerfish or white seabass while fishing the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and while fishing the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines.

Fishing with strips of fresh frozen squid has been working well for the bass and sculpin. One of the best techniques has been fishing the squid strip on a bare lead head jig head. He says that it sometimes helps to fish a sliding sinker above the lead head jig head that is baited with the strip of squid.

As an example of the recent fishing, the Chubasco II out of the Oceanside Sea Center ran a morning half day trip on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 that had 19 anglers catch 23 sand bass, 41 sculpin, 5 calico bass, 10 perch, 1 triggerfish, 11 calico bass that were released and 21 sand bass that were released.

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 off South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck located outside of Mission Beach, San Diego Bay and while fishing sandy bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

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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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