Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Southern California anglers continue to have to fish around weather systems
 The first part of 2019 has seen a steady stream of weather systems move through Southern California which have brought high seas, wind and rain. There have been some good weather days to be had between storm systems and if an angler watches the weather forecasts closely and chooses the good weather days to go out fishing, there has been some good fun wintertime fishing to be found on the good weather days.

Today is Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 and there is once again some rain and increasing wind in the forecast for the upcoming weekend. An ongoing reminder is that Anglers and Skippers should always check the latest marine weather forecast before going boating or fishing.

There has not been much news from offshore waters lately with few, if any boats out looking around for the bluefin tuna and kelp paddie yellowtail that were around a couple of weeks ago. There was one report from a private boater this morning who had been out looking around the Ridge between the 182 Spot and 181 Spot several days ago. He reported finding a bunch of the very small throwback sized yellowtail under some of the kelp paddies he found but did not find any keeper sized yellowtail or any bluefin tuna. Maybe some more boats will go out looking around to see what might still be around offshore once we get a stretch of good weather.

There were Gale Warnings posted last weekend and the last reports from the Coronado Islands were when the Malihini out of H&M Landing was fishing around the Coronados the last weekend in January. They found very good fishing for a mix of reds, assorted rockfish, nice sized bonito and a few yellowtail. The Malihini's fish count on Jan. 27, 2019 was 14 anglers on a full day trip catching 70 rockfish (limits of rockfish), 35 reds, 3 yellowtail and 42 bonito. Captain Bill Wilkerson of the Malihini reported that the bonito they were catching were jumbo sized fish that were running from 8 to 12 pounds.

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.

When the weather allows, 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 have been able to get occasional trips in during the week between weather systems and their fish count for Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 was another good one with 10 anglers on a half-day trip catching an assortment of 100 rockfish.

When the weather allows, sportboats have been running 1.5 day trips to fish Punta Colnett and they have been finding a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod, whitefish and an assortment of rockfish biting. Most of these trips have been fishing on the weekends and with the Gale Warnings that were posted last weekend, the last trips fishing the area that I know of were from Jan. 26, 2019.

On Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 the Relentless out of H&M Landing 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 that same day that had 34 anglers catch 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. Seaforth Sportfishing 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.

Best bet for the yellowtail has been to try and find meter marks, sonar marks or spots of working birds to stop on. Once yellows are located, try yo-yoed iron or sardines fished on a dropper loop rig. The yo-yoed iron has been working best for the yellowtail with the larger heavy Salas 6X and Salas 7X sized yo-yo jigs in scrambled egg color reported to be working best.

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 Jan. 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.

Boats fishing coastal trips have been able to do some fishing in decent weather between weather systems and the fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to provide a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin as well as a few halibut. Not much has been happening in the way of yellowtail action lately but the areas where sporadic yellowtail activity has been reported in recent weeks have been at the upper end of La Jolla, the lower end of La Jolla and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. There has also been a very 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 zone 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 the hard bottom areas outside of Box Canyon.

Today, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 and this morning there have been reports of good fishing for sand bass, calico bass and sculpin for boats fishing the structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline. Captain Fred Huber of the Daily Double out of Point Loma Sportfishing reported that they had a good mid-morning half day trip this morning that included catching approximately 50 sculpin and 30 mixed legal sized sand bass and calico bass.

The last report from Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center was that the Oceanside Sea Center boats have done well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area. In addition to the good sculpin fishing off Box Canyon, what is often better is that they have also been finding 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 was able to get out fishing on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 and they had a morning half day trip with 11 anglers catch 16 sand bass, 11 sand bass that were released, 4 calico bass, 7 calico bass that were released, 28 sculpin, and 32 perch.

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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