Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Southern California anglers continue to have to fish around a steady series of weather systems
The month of February of 2019 has thus far continued in the pattern of this winter season in having one weather system after the next roll through Southern California. The steady series of weather systems have brought needed rain to Southern California but have also brought strong winds and high seas that when present have made fishing difficult and at times dangerous. There have been some nice weather days between storms and the good news is that there has been good fishing to be found on the good weather days.

The upcoming 3 day holiday weekend of Feb. 16, 17 and 18, 2019 is currently forecasted to be one of poor weather with Small Craft Advisories being posted for the time period starting at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, Feb. 15, 2019 and going through Monday morning, Feb. 18, 2019. 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 few weeks ago. There was one report from early in the week of a Skipper who was out looking at whales and porpoise saying he was also seeing spots of diving birds and what he thought were breaking tuna under the birds. He was whale watching and not fishing though and I am unable to confirm that what he was looking at were breaking bluefin tuna. The activity in question was reported seen in about 100 fathoms of water while out about 2.5 miles off the coast outside of Ponto Beach at South Carlsbad.

The past weekend saw several sportboats fishing 1.5 day trips down the Mexican coast to Punta Colnett and they once again found very good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod and an assortment of rockfish. Some fish counts from boats fishing on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 start with the Old Glory out of H&M Landing that had 24 anglers catch 120 reds, 79 rockfish, 29 bonito, 7 yellowtail and 2 lingcod. Seaforth Sportfishing had the Tomahawk fish a 1.5 day trip with 25 anglers who caught 90 rockfish, 70 reds, 50 bonito, 24 whitefish, 7 lingcod, 5 yellowtail and 4 sheephead. Seaforth Sportfishing also had the Tribute fishing a 1.5 day trip with 26 anglers who caught 130 rockfish, 100 reds, 12 yellowtail, 11 whitefish and 7 bonito. Fisherman's Landing had a 1.5 day trip aboard the Pacific Queen return with 34 anglers having caught 58 yellowtail, 110 reds, 2 lingcod and 150 rockfish.

The Relentless out of H&M Landing fished a weekend 2 day trip on Feb. 9 and 10, 2019 and had 16 anglers catch 160 reds, 150 rockfish, 5 lingcod, 1 yellowtail and 1 sheephead.

The yellowtail off Punta Colnett have been mostly the 15- to 25-pound class fish. 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 heavy Salas 6X and Salas 7X sized yo-yo jigs in scrambled egg color have been reported to be working best.

The Malihini out of H&M Landing fished the Coronado Islands on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2019 and Captain Bill Wilkerson reported finding very good fishing for a mix of reds, lingcod, whitefish, sheephead and an assortment of rockfish. The surface fishing was scratchy but they did have a single bonito within their catch. The fish count on the Malihini was 25 anglers on a full day trip catching 125 reds, 75 rockfish, 44 whitefish, 3 sculpin, 2 sheephead and 1 bonito.

Good areas for the bottom fishing 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. Their last trip targeting rockfish was on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 when they had 33 anglers on a half-day trip catch an assortment of 329 rockfish and 1 lingcod.

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. The end of the closure is approaching but 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 the 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. There is occasional yellowtail activity reported but not much has been biting when the schools of yellows decide to show. 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.

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 Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center last reported that they had been finding good fishing that was coming from a few different areas. Cacciola reported that Oceanside Sea Center boats have done well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area but what he reported to often be better is the unseasonably good mixed bag fishing for sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, perch and an occasional halibut, triggerfish or white seabass that they have been finding 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. Cacciola said that it sometimes helps to fish a sliding sinker above the lead head jig head that is baited with the strip of squid.

With all the recent bad weather during the week, the last trips out of the Oceanside Sea Center were on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 when the Chubasco II and the Pronto combined to have 26 anglers catch 42 perch, 26 sculpin, 19 calico bass, 15 sand bass 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.

On Friday morning, Feb. 8, 2019, private boater, Captain Bob Woodard of the Christina Lynn fished at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and reported finding scratchy fishing with just a few sand bass and sculpin biting. Woodard made a move to try for halibut outside of the Imperial Beach Pier and the move paid off when they found good halibut fishing while drifting in 30 to 40 feet of water. Woodard said they caught 3 legal halibut and that they had a big fish of 12.6 pounds and two additional legal sized fish that each weighed in at 8 pounds.

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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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