Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Friday, February 14, 2020
Good weather days provide good fishing!

Southern California anglers enjoying good winter fishing!
Recent weeks have provided Southern California anglers a lot of days of nice weather and anglers that have been selective about choosing the good weather days to go out on the ocean and do some fishing have often been returning with good numbers of some tasty fish for the dinner table. The upcoming weekend does have some bad weather in the forecast with a chance of rain currently within the forecast for Sunday and Monday. It is good practice to always check the latest marine weather forecast before going boating or fishing.

The weeks leading up to the end of the month of January saw some drift net commercial boats catching a mix of 60 to 90-plus pound bluefin tuna, a few thresher sharks and an occasional swordfish or mako shark while fishing their nets in areas between 32 miles and 50 miles from Point Loma. These fish were being found out in the area of the Ridge while working the area between the 138 Spot and the area above the end of the Ridge above the 181 Spot. There were also some kelp paddie yellowtail being seen in that same zone. The commercial boats that were fishing that area had their drift net commercial season come to an end at midnight on Jan. 31, 2020 and there have not been any reports one way or the other from that zone since the commercial drift net season came to a close. If someone wanted to give it a look to try to do some sportfishing, a key to locating the tuna was to find meter marks in 61.3 to 61.8 degree water.

Sportboats continue to fish Punta Colnett on 1.5 day trips that are mostly fishing on Saturdays. The high spot area outside of Punta Colnett continues to be productive and continues to provide very good mixed bag fishing for reds and assorted rockfish that is complimented by a mix of lingcod, whitefish, bonito and yellowtail. Some good news from the Punta Colnett area from the fishing last Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 was that the numbers of biting yellowtail had improved when compared to the yellowtail action of the prior couple of weeks.

As an example of the fishing last Saturday, the Vagabond out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished a 1.5 day trip and had 26 anglers catch 12 lingcod, 90 reds, 96 rockfish and 35 yellowtail. Fisherman’s Landing had both the Tomahawk and the Pacific Queen fishing 1.5 day trips and the Pacific Queen had 33 anglers catch 150 rockfish, 120 reds, 23 yellowtail and 11 lingcod. The Tomahawk had 13 anglers catch 65 rockfish 19 lingcod (to 35 pounds) and 6 bonito.

The yellowtail being caught on the Punta Colnett area trips have been going up into the 20-plus pound class. 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 continues to be 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, on Thursday, they had 10 anglers on a three-quarter day trip catch 25 reds and 75 rockfish.

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 targeting species that are still open to fishing. The 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.

As an example of the recent fishing, on Thursday, the Premier out of H&M Landing had 18 anglers on a half day trip catch 99 perch, 42 sand bass, 33 sculpin, 4 calico bass and 1 halibut. The Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing ran two half day trips with 23 anglers who caught 64 perch, 51 sand bass, 13 sculpin and 12 calico bass. The Sea Watch out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished a half day trip with 6 anglers who caught 4 calico bass, 10 sand bass, 4 sculpin and 6 calico bass that were released. The Oceanside Sea Center had the Chubasco II fish a half day trip with 15 anglers who caught 13 sand bass, 60 sculpin, 1 triggerfish, 16 sand bass that were released and 18 calico bass that were released.

There have been a few halibut biting at sandy bottom areas adjacent to the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach and adjacent to the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach. There have also been some halibut biting in San Diego Bay.

The showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast continue to be erratic from day to day and it has been kind of quiet with regards to reports about yellowtail activity during the past week. The main area of yellowtail activity has been spread from the area outside of Mission Bay on up to the area below the MLPA closure zone below the lower end of La Jolla. There have also been occasional showings of yellowtail outside of the upper end of La Jolla and outside of Torrey Pines. A good depth range to locate yellowtail has been while fishing in 18 to 30 fathoms of water.

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. Locating areas where there is a lot of bait has been a key factor in successfully locating yellowtail. This morning, boats fishing the area outside of Mission Bay and Mission Beach were finding a lot of bait while fishing in the 24 to 30 fathom depths but were not reporting much in the way of yellowtail activity in the area.

Once yellowtail are 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 have been mackerel to catch for bait in 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 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 the timely and accurate information at www.976bite.com .

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