St. Croix


Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Good winter fishing!
The past week has seen what have been mostly days of nice, fishable weather conditions. Some anglers have been taking the opportunity to get out on the water and sample the wintertime fishing. What has been found is that we seem to be in a traditional winter time mode right now with regard to what is biting and where. Boats traveling to Punta Colnett to fish 1.5 day trips are finding the best action which has been very good mixed bag fishing for reds, rockfish, lingcod, yellowtail and bonito. The fishing around the Coronado Islands has also been very good for a mix of reds, rockfish and an occasional lingcod and the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin along with a chance at a yellowtail or halibut.

The fishing for swordfish via the deep drop method has slowed but it still seems to me like there is a chance at getting a bite and hooking a swordfish via the deep drop method. There has been an occasional boat out trying for swordfish and the main areas being targeted have been the drop off shelf outside of Newport Beach, the area of the drop-off below and outside of the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel, the Avalon Bank, the Rock Quarry at Catalina, the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the nearby 178 Spot. The last hookup I know of was aboard a commercial deep drop swordfish boat that hooked and lost a swordfish while fishing at the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

Skippers have been deep drop drifting the areas mentioned above in 150 to 300 fathoms of water and have been fishing their baits at around 900 feet below the surface. Large frozen squid have been the best bait with live mackerel also producing occasional action.

Most of the sportboat trips fishing 1.5 day trips to Punta Colnett have been fishing on Saturdays and last weekend’s fishing resulted in very good mixed bag fishing for reds, lingcod, rockfish, bonito and yellowtail. As an example of the recent fishing, Fisherman’s Landing had both the Tomahawk and the Pacific Queen fishing 1.5 day trips to the Punta Colnett region last Saturday. The Pacific Queen had 33 anglers catch 170 reds, 125 rockfish, 25 yellowtail and 7 lingcod. The Tomahawk had 16 anglers catch 120 rockfish, 18 lingcod, 14 bonito and 3 yellowtail. The yellowtail and the lingcod caught on the Punta Colnett trips have been going up into the 20-plus pound class and Fisherman’s Landing reports that the yellowtail caught on Saturday were ranging from 15 to 25 pounds.

Best bet for yellowtail off Punta Colnett has been to look for meter marks, sonar marks and spots of working birds. Yo-yo iron is usually the best way to go once yellowtail are located and a sardine or mackerel fished on a dropper loop rig can also be effective. Good choices for yo-yo iron included Salas 6X or 7X jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg, dorado and sardine colors.

The fishing for reds, rockfish and an occasional lingcod has been very good around the Coronado Islands. Productive zones include hard bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island while working in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. Also productive has been fishing the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while keeping on the Mexico side of the border and fishing in the 60 to 80 fathom depths. Another productive rockfish zone around the Coronado Islands has been fishing spots along the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 20 to 40 fathom depths.

The New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has been running three-quarter day trips to target the bottom fishing around the Coronado Islands and as an example of the recent fishing, today on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 they had 22 anglers return with 200 rockfish and 20 reds.

Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure on the U.S. side of the Mexico border went into effect on New Year’s Day and that it will remain in effect until March 1, 2020. With the rockfish/groundfish closure currently in effect, Southern California anglers fishing in US waters have been focusing on species that are still open to fishing such as sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, halibut and yellowtail. The actual fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin and there has also been an occasional halibut biting along with an occasional flurry of yellowtail action.

Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom areas to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #5 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp while fishing below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

The Imperial Beach Pipeline has been one of the better areas to find some biting sand bass and sculpin. As an example of the fishing, the Premier out of H&M Landing ran 2 half day trips last Sunday that saw 31 anglers combine to catch 37 sculpin, 59 sand bass and 55 perch. A more recent report was from Thursday’s fishing when the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing ran a half day trip with 15 anglers who caught 207 perch, 19 sand bass, 11 sculpin and 1 calico bass.

There have been a few halibut biting out in 30 fathoms of water outside of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach and in the area of the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach. There was also a recent report of some halibut biting in San Diego Bay.

The showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast have been erratic from day to day and it has been rather quiet with regard to yellowtail activity in recent days. During the past several weeks there have been occasional showing of yellowtail found in the area ranging from the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma on up to the upper end of La Jolla and you never know where and when some yellowtail might pop up. A good depth range to try and locate yellowtail has been in 18 to 30 fathoms of water. The zone below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla has been the best place to try and locate some yellowtail during the past couple of weeks.

The yellowtail along the coast have been mostly 18- to 25-pound fish and they have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks and spots of working birds. Once located, yo-yo iron, surface iron, mackerel and sardines have all worked for the yellowtail. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white and scrambled egg colors. Good choices for surface iron include Salas 7X lights and Tady 45’s in blue and white, mint and sardine colors. The live baits have worked while slow trolled, flylined and fished deep with a dropper loop rig. There are recent reports of mackerel being caught for bait in about 40-50 feet of water off the Mission Bay jetties.

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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 . 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 the timely and accurate information at .

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