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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Bluefin tuna and yellowtail bites continue!
The past week of fishing has seen very good and steady fishing that has been highlighted by excellent fishing for yellowtail and bluefin tuna. The yellowtail have been biting well around the Coronado Islands and the bluefin tuna have been biting well for boats fishing the region above and inside of the Lower 500 Bank that is located below and outside of Ensenada. There has been some days of breezy weather during the past week but in the overall picture, anglers have finally gotten a break from the pattern of a steady progression of weather systems that have been passing through Southern California since the first part of the year.

Bluefin tuna have been biting well for boats fishing the area above and inside of the Lower 500 Bank down between 84 and 98 miles at162 degrees from Point Loma. The bluefin have been ranging from 25 to 160 pounds with most falling within the 50- to 90-pound range. Action has been coming from stopping on sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breezing fish. Sardines and flat fall jigs have been working for the bluefin with sardines working best.


I talked with an angler who fished a recent trip aboard the Tomahawk out of Fisherman's Landing who reported that most of their bluefin hookups came from flylined sardines. In addition to the flylined sardines he said they also had action on sardines that were fished from a kite. He personally caught an 80+ pound bluefin and lost 3 additional bluefin hookups on fish that were considerably larger. He started out using 40-pound test fluorocarbon leader and he said that the 40 pound test size leader was too light for the size fish they were hooking. He kept on using progressively heavier fluorocarbon leader material up to 100-pound test and at the end of the day his suggestion was to use between 60-pound test and 100-pound test fluorocarbon leaders.


As an example of the recent fishing some fish counts from the fishing on Thursday, April 18, 2019 and Friday morning, April 19, 2019 start with Fisherman's Landing that reported that the Tomahawk was out on a 1.5 day trip on Thursday and had limits of 50 to 80 pound bluefin tuna and 11 yellowtail for their 28 anglers. Fisherman's Landing also had a Friday morning report from the Shogun that had 59 of the 50- to 80-pound bluefin aboard for Friday morning's fishing on the last day of their 4 day trip.


Seaforth Sportfishing has a Friday morning report from the Outer Limits that is out on a 1.5 day trip and is reporting 11 of the 40- to 70-pound bluefin tuna aboard and is still fishing. Point Loma Sportfishing reports having an update from the Chief's 1.5 day trip which had 47 bluefin tuna aboard and was still fishing. The bluefin aboard the Chief were averaging 75 to 80 pounds and they had a big fish aboard of 130 pounds.


There has also been very good yellowtail fishing around the Coronado Islands with some limit catches being reported. Most of the yellowtail have been running from 10 to 15 pounds and productive areas have been the hard bottom to the northeast of North Island, the Middle Grounds and the Rockpile.


Some fish counts from Thursday, April 18, 2019 start with Point Loma Sportfishing that had the Mission Belle fishing a full day trip with 36 anglers who caught 180 yellowtail and 20 bonito. H&M Landing had the Grande fishing a full day trip with 41 anglers who caught 109 yellowtail and 28 bonito. H&M Landing also had the Vendetta fishing a full day trip with 6 anglers who caught 30 yellowtail. Fisherman's Landing had the Liberty fishing a full day trip with 46 anglers who caught 123 yellowtail and 13 bonito. Seaforth Sportfishing had the San Diego fishing a full day trip with 53 anglers who caught 24 bonito and 167 yellowtail.


Most of the schools of yellowtail are being located by finding sonar marks and meter marks but there have been more and more spots of fish found under working birds. The yellowtail have been biting on surface iron, yo-yo iron, sardines fished on a dropper loop rig and flylined sardines. Fish the yellows on the surface if you can get the flylined bait or surface iron jig to the fish before they sound. Try the yo-yo iron or the dropper loop fished sardine if the fish are holding deep or have sounded by the time you get to the spot.


Good yo-yo jig choices would include Salas 6X, Salas 7X jigs and Tady 4/0 jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg and sardine colors. Good surface iron jig choices would include Tady 45's and Salas 7X lights in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.


In addition to the very good yellowtail action at the Coronados, something new and different that was reported to be very good was the calico bass fishing. The report was that there was very good calico bass fishing on fish to 6+ pounds that was found while fishing with Tady 45 surface iron in close to the rocks at the Middle Grounds and in close to the rocks around the north end of South Island.


There have also been some pretty good numbers of bonito biting incidental to fishing for yellowtail at the Coronados and the fishing for an assortment of rockfish has been very good. 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.


The fishing along the San Diego County coast has provided a chance at finding some yellowtail action but the coastal oriented yellowtail fishing has been inconsistent and mostly scratchy. Areas where occasional yellowtail activity has been reported has been outside of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, and the stretch between Solana Beach and Carlsbad. Look for areas of bait and working birds out in the 14 to 25 fathom depths as the yellows tend to pop up around the spots of bait.


Most of the coastal oriented yellowtail have been the 15- to 25-pound fish and when they do decide to show, they have been located by finding meter marks, sonar marks and spots of working birds. Fish the yellowtail on the surface if you can get the live bait or surface iron jig to the fish before they sound. Otherwise, fish the yellows deep with yo-yo iron or a sardine or a mackerel that is fished on a dropper loop rig. There has been a bit of squid to be caught for bait around the upper end of La Jolla and if you can jig up some live squid, that would certainly also be something good to try for the yellowtail.


The remainder of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of reds, rockfish, sand bass, calico bass, whitefish and sculpin. There have also been a few bonus lingcod and halibut biting along with a very occasional white seabass. A new development is that a few bonito entered the picture for boats fishing around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma.


Productive rockfish areas remain the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.


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 Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, 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.


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, Box Canyon, the area outside of the Oceanside Pier, 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.


Up at Catalina, there has been some squid to be caught for bait at night off the V's and outside of Ben Weston with the Ben Weston area tending to be the best. The fishing for white seabass and yellowtail remains scratchy with an occasional flurry of action reported. Best areas for a chance at scratching out a white seabass or yellowtail have been while fishing outside of the V's and Salta Verde as well as off the area between Ribbon Rock and the West End.


San Clemente Island has also been producing good numbers of rockfish and an occasional yellowtail. Yo-yo iron and live squid have produced an occasional yellowtail while fishing the ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove and one of the best yellowtail reports was from several days ago when a private boater was slow trolling live mackerel and live sardines in the White Rock area on the front side of the Island and picking up an occasional yellowtail.


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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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