CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Fall offshore fishing season continues to produce summer like action!
The first day of fall was on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 and Southern California anglers are still enjoying fine tuna fishing with yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna continuing strong bites in local offshore waters. The early fall months can produce some of the best offshore action of the year as tuna will sometimes group up in warm water pockets and go on feeding sprees in anticipation of migrating to warmer waters for the late fall and winter months.


The jumbo sized bluefin tuna to 300-plus pounds continue to bite well off the back side of San Clemente Island. Productive areas for the jumbo sized bluefin off the back side of San Clemente Island have been Desperation Reef, the 86 Fathom Spot, the 57 Fathom Spot and the waters outside of Lost Point and Seal Cove. There are also sporadic showings of the 50- to 125-pound bluefin in the San Clemente Island region while fishing areas such as the Mackerel Bank, 3 to 8 miles northeast of Pyramid Head and the 289 Spot. There was also a recent report about some bluefin showing in the region of the 181 Spot.


On Tuesday, I had a chance to talk with private boater Doug Augustine of the Double Trouble who was returning home to San Diego from the Desperation Reef area with an estimated 250-plus pound bluefin tuna. Augustine had the action while fishing with flying fish from a helium filled balloon and said they also hooked and lost another big bluefin and had a couple of additional blowups and bites while fishing with flying fish from helium filled balloons.


The best bait for the jumbo sized bluefin are kite fished or helium filled balloon fished flying fish. Live, fresh dead and frozen flying fish have all been effective. There have also been occasional jumbo sized bluefin bites coming on kite trolled Yummy Flyers. Best bet for the 50- to 125- pound class bluefin has been using poppers, Colt Snipers, sardines or mackerel. Of those choices, poppers tend to work the best.


Most of the action on the jumbo sized bluefin off the back side of San Clemente Island comes from drifting around meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breezing fish. Most of the action in the areas that have been producing the 50- to 125-pound bluefin comes from fishing spots of breaking or foaming fish.


Most boats fishing for yellowfin tuna are currently finding action on yellowfin and skipjack while fishing the region ranging from the deep water outside of the 9 Mile Bank on out to the area outside of the Ridge. This morning boats are finding action within this zone in an area ranging from 15 to 30 miles 245 to 265 degrees from Point Loma. The bite outside of the 9 Mile Bank was very good on Thursday and the bite this morning (Friday morning) is off a bit from the near limit to limit fishing that was being found in the area on Thursday. Boats are still catching yellowfin and skipjack but so far, not in the numbers that were biting on Thursday. The yellowfin continue to work up the line as a whale watch boat Captain reported seeing spots of breaking yellowfin outside of La Jolla this morning.


As I was preparing this report, I got a report from a private boater Skipper who was fishing inside of the 302 Spot which is located at 22 miles 224 degrees from Point Loma. He reported getting a quadruple jig strike on skipjack that turned into a wide open bite on 15- to 25-pound yellowfin tuna on the bait! He said that the yellowfin bite was so good that he and his wife caught all the yellowfin they wanted. It sounded to me like it was limit fishing and he said they were exhausted from catching yellowfin and were heading for home.


The yellowfin action originates from stopping on breaking fish, kelp paddies, skipjack trolling strikes, yellowfin trolling strikes and from stopping on meter marks or sonar marks. Sardines have been the best bait once yellowfin are located. Choosing a lively sardine, using a small hook and using fluorocarbon leaders of 15- and 20-pound test helps to draw strikes when the tuna are being picky.


Things have been kind of quiet on the marlin fishing front during much of the week. There have not been many boats out looking for marlin since the Avalon Billfish Challenge was held on Monday and Tuesday. There were 6 boats participating in the tournament and they accounted for 3 marlin caught and released, 5 swordfish caught and another swordfish that was a non-qualifying fish being caught and released. The Ruckus had a great day of fishing on Tuesday in catching 2 swordfish and catching and releasing a marlin. Most of the action in the tournament came from fishing off the back side of Santa Cruz Island off the Yellow Banks region. Most if not all of the swordfish action came while using the deep drop method.


The marlin fishing in the San Diego region has been slow but as luck would have it, I just now talked to a private boat Skipper who had just caught a marlin from a trolling strike found while fishing around the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank. The timing of getting that report was incredible in being in conjunction with writing this marlin report update! There looks to be a bit of an influx of marlin activity in the San Diego region today as there were also a couple of marlin hookups and a marlin sighting by boats within the tuna fleet that were working the Ridge area in the region of the 182 Spot and the Ridge area below the 182 Spot.


With all the good tuna fishing offshore, there has been very little news coming from the Coronado Islands lately. Last report was from last Sunday when there were some barracuda and bass biting around the Rockpile and when there was good fishing for rockfish. The best areas for the bottom fishing around the Coronados 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 been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, rockfish, reds, sheephead and whitefish. There has also been an occasional yellowtail caught at the upper end of La Jolla.


The main surface fishing activity continues to be the fishing for calico bass in the kelp beds but the calico bass bite has been tapering off a bit when compared to the fishing of a few weeks ago. Productive areas have been the kelp beds at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, the stretch between Solana Beach and South Carlsbad and the kelp off the Barn, Box Canyon and the Yellowtail Kelp. There has also been some pretty good to sometimes good sand bass fishing off Imperial Beach while fishing at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and at hard bottom areas both above and below the Imperial Beach Pipeline.


Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that there are good numbers of calico bass biting at kelp bed areas between South Carlsbad and Solana Beach. He said the water temperature remains warm at 72 to 73.5 degrees. Cacciola's report is that most of the calicos are short sized fish that must be released but says that there are usually also some keeper sized fish within their catch. In addition to the calico bass, the kelp bed areas are also producing some nice sized sheephead and some whitefish, sculpin and rockfish.


Cacciola reports that some of the Oceanside Sea Center boats have been fishing hard bottom areas for rockfish instead of fishing the kelp beds. He said there has been good rockfish fishing to be found at hard bottom areas both above and below Oceanside Harbor and noted that the Box Canyon area has been producing well.


Rockfish have been biting well at spots up and down the San Diego County coast and some of the more productive areas have been while fishing hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma, off the upper end of La Jolla and while fishing outside of Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.


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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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