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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Friday, February 21, 2020
Bluefin playing hide and seek!


Good weather days provide good fishing!
The past week saw a couple of days of not so good weather with some rain wind and choppy seas but overall, it was a week of mostly good weather with lots of sunshine and good fishable ocean conditions. Anglers who took advantage of the good weather days and got out on the water to do some fishing often found that there was fun winter time fishing to be had on a variety of good eating fish for the dinner table.


I have no specific news from offshore on the tuna fishing front but my curiosity was perked this morning by a radio transmission from a Skipper who was asking if anyone had found any bluefin tuna out at the 9 Mile Bank. He got no reply to his inquiry but my inference from his radio call was that someone may have seen bluefin out at the 9 Mile Bank in recent days. It was just a couple of weeks ago when bluefin were being reported around the 138 Spot and 181 Spot at the Ridge so there have been some bluefin around in Southern California waters during the winter months.


Sportboats continue to fish the Mexican coast off Punta Colnett on Saturday 1.5 day trips. The high spot area outside of Punta Colnett continues to be productive and continues to provide very good mixed bag fishing for reds, assorted rockfish and lingcod. Recent weeks have also seen good numbers of yellowtail and some bonito biting but last Saturday’s fishing for yellowtail and bonito was slow.


Saturday’s fishing saw the Relentless out of H&M Landing fish a 1.5 day trip with 12 anglers who caught 50 reds, 48 rockfish and 12 lingcod. Point Loma Sportfishing had the Vagabond fish a 1.5 day trip with 28 anglers who caught 123 rockfish, 97 reds and 36 lingcod. Fisherman’s Landing had the Pacific Queen fish a 1.5 day trip with 32 anglers who caught 95 reds, 5 lingcod and limits of rockfish.


The Punta Colnett area ling cod have included nice sized fish that have gone up over 30 pounds. When yellowtail have been biting they have also been quality sized fish which have included a good percentage that have been up in the 18- to 25-pound range. When yellowtail are located, yo-yo iron is most often the best way to go and a sardine or mackerel fished on a dropper loop rig can also be effective. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X or 7X jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg, dorado and sardine colors.


The fishing for reds, rockfish, whitefish and an occasional lingcod remains very good for boats fishing in the region of the Coronado Islands. Productive areas 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 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 daily three-quarter day trips to fish for reds, rockfish and other assorted bottom fish species around the Coronado Islands. The count on the New Seaforth from yesterday’s fishing (Thursday) was 18 anglers catching 134 assorted rockfish, 45 reds and 1 lingcod.


An ongoing reminder to anglers is that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure on the U.S. side of the Mexico border went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. This closure will remain in effect until March 1, 2020. With the rockfish/groundfish closure currently in effect, Southern California anglers fishing in US waters continue to focus their efforts on species that remain open to fishing and there has been good action for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin along with an occasional bonus halibut and an occasional flurry of yellowtail action.


The showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast remain inconsistent and unpredictable as to where and when yellowtail might be found. Locating areas where there is a lot of bait has been a good way to try and find a school of yellowtail.


There have been occasional showings of yellowtail reported ranging from the area outside of Imperial Beach on up to the ridge outside of Del Mar but most recent showings of yellowtail have been found in an area ranging from outside of Mission Bay on up to the lower part of the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla. A good depth range to try and locate yellowtail has been 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 fish that are up working on the surface under spots of working birds. Once located, yo-yo iron, surface iron, mackerel and sardines have all been working for yellowtail. Of these methods, surface iron that is cast to a spot of breaking fish before they sound has been working the best.


Good choices for surface iron include Salas 7X lights and Tady 45’s in blue and white, mint and sardine colors. Good choices for yo-yo iron include Salas 6X and 6X Jr. jigs in blue and white and scrambled egg colors. The live baits have worked while slow trolled, flylined and fished deep with a dropper loop rig. There are reports of mackerel being caught for bait in about 40-50 feet of water off the Mission Bay jetties.


Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the area a short way above the Imperial Beach Pier while fishing in 7 to 8 fathoms of water, 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.


There have been a few halibut biting at sandy bottom areas adjacent to the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach as well as at sandy bottom areas adjacent to the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach. San Diego Bay is another place where occasional catches of halibut have been reported in recent weeks. In a new development, this week has also seen an additional area of halibut activity develop with a few halibut caught by boats fishing outside of Imperial Beach.


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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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