Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Bite Good as 3 B's Show, Lots of Tuna Spotted

Summer is Here and Bluefin, Yellowfin, Yellowtail, Bonito, Barracuda and Calico Bass Are Biting!

     The past week of offshore fishing has seen some days of scratchy tuna fishing but the bite rallied a bit on Thursday, June 22, 2017 with both bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna providing some action.  There have been a lot of bluefin and yellowfin showing but getting them to bite has been difficult.  Anglers are hoping that the beginning of the summer season is going too see the fish change their habits and start biting better on the baits and lures that anglers are presenting them.

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     Thursday's fishing saw a bit of improvement with a few private boaters reporting counts of 4 yellowfin tuna and one private boater reporting catching a 120 pound bluefin tuna.  I had a second hand report of a 170 pound bluefin being caught on Thursday as well.  There have not been many sportboats fishing offshore waters in recent days as with the recent drop in the tuna bite a lot of the sportboats have been fishing the improved yellowtail, barracuda, bonito and calico bass bites at the Coronado Islands.

     Areas where bluefin and yellowfin tuna have been showing have been widespread and on Thursday they ranged from the Catalina Island region on down to the offshore banks below and outside of the Coronados.  On Thursday there were reports of tuna being seen at areas such as the 277 Spot, 138 Spot, 182 Spot, 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank, 9 Mile Bank and 7 to 12 miles off the stretch of coast between Carlsbad and San Onofre.  Of all those areas the better bite areas were in the San Diego region for boats fishing the deep water inside of the 138 Spot, the 182 Spot, 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank and 9 Mile Bank.  There is also an area of kelp paddie yellowtail being fished by some boats working above and outside of the 475 Knuckle that is located outside of the Finger Bank.

     Even though the tuna bite has been scratchy lately, the good thing about the tuna fishing is that it provides a chance at quality and trophy sized fish with the bluefin going from 20 to 200+ pounds and with most of the yellowfin running in the 20 to 40 pound class.

     Productive methods have included stopping around breaking fish, breezing fish, sonar marks, meter marks and spots of working birds and fishing the tuna with sardines, Flat Fall jigs, Colt Snipers and poppers.  Trolling with kite trolled Yummy Flyers has also been an effective technique for the larger bluefin tuna.  Trolling with cedar plugs, Rapalas and Halco #130 jigs has resulted in increasing numbers of yellowfin tuna along with an occasional bluefin tuna.  Porpoise schools have also been holding yellowfin tuna and trolling cedar plugs in the porpoise has also proved to be effective.

     With the slowing of the tuna bite offshore, more boats have been fishing at the Coronado Islands in recent days and there has been some fun mixed bag fishing for calico bass, barracuda, bonito and yellowtail.  Productive areas have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the area inside of the Middle Grounds rocks, the north end of South Island, the 5 Minute Kelp and the South Kelp.

     A lot of the fishing going on at the Coronados is being done while sitting on the anchor and there has also been some action found from stopping on meter marks, sonar marks and spots of working birds.  Sardines and surface iron are effective for the yellowtail and barracuda.  Good jig choices are Salas 7X lights and Tady 45's in blue and white, sardine and mint colors.  Try sardines, anchovies and Megabait/Laser Minnow style jigs for the bonito.

     Trolled Rapalas are also reported to be working well for yellowtail at the Coronados.  Private boater Bill Parker of the Cabo reported fishing at the Coronados on Thursday, June 22, 2017 and catching limits of yellowtail (15 yellowtail) and several bonito for the 3 anglers aboard.  All their yellowtail were caught on the troll and he said that the yellowtail were choosey about what they would bite for them  All their action came on either a size CD 14 blue and white Rapala or a size 20 blue and white X Rap Rapala.  Parker said that their trolling strikes would often come while trolling where they were seeing working tern birds.

      Parker said that the yellowtail they caught were in the 8 to 12 pound class.  They also tried using sardines, mackerel and an assortment of casting jigs but could not get the yellows to bite on those baits and lures. 

     The surface fishing along the San Diego County Coast has been very good for calico bass and has also been producing occasional action for bonito, barracuda and yellowtail.

     Productive kelp bed areas include the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the Jetty Kelp in front of Mission Bay, La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Carlsbad, Yellowtail Kelp, the Barn Kelp and the kelp at San Onofre.  A lot of the calico bass and barracuda being caught are short sized fish that must be released, but there have also been some keeper sized fish in the mix.

     Private boater Larry Andrews reported fishing at La Jolla on Thursday afternoon, June 22, 2017.  He said they got to La Jolla at 4:00 PM and found excellent calico bass fishing.  Andrews reported that the fish were biting well on anchovies and an assortment of plastics and he said there were a lot of short sized barracuda biting as well.  A highlight of the trip was when Larry's daughter caught a tagged calico bass.

     Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports very good calico bass action while fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Del Mar.  A high percentage of the calicos are short sized fish that need to be released but there are some legal sized fish in the mix as well.  In addition to calico bass, they have been finding other action incidental to their calico bass fishing along the edges of the kelp.  They have been catching and releasing a lot of short sized barracuda, hooking and loosing an occasional 20 to 30 pound yellowtail, catching and releasing an occasional large black seabass and hooking and loosing an occasional thresher shark.  On a recent trip Cacciola said they also hooked and lost what he thought to be 3 large white seabass.  One fish spooled the angler, another was broken off and the third was lost when the hook straightened out. 

      Anchovies have been working well for bait and they have had beautiful, strong 4 to 5 inch anchovies in their bait supply.  Plastic swim baits in an anchovy color pattern have also been productive for the calico bass. Cacciola also reports good calico bass action on the 3/8 ounce size Hookup Bait plastics in the anchovy and chartreuse colors.  The water has been green but has been warm and at last report was running 69.5 degrees. 

     San Clemente Island has been providing some good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, calico bass, bonito, rockfish and an occasional white seabass.  The yellowtail have been nice sized fish that have been running from 10 to 30 pounds.  Boats are fishing many areas around and about the Island and have been finding action at various locations.  On the front side of the Island, some of the more productive areas have been Purse Seine Rock, White Rock and Gold Bluff.  On the back side of the Island, productive areas have been while fishing the ridges between Pyramid Cove and China Point as well as at spots like Lost Point, Eel Point, the Runway, West Cove and the 9 Fathom Spot.

     Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and there has been some squid to catch for bait at night in West Cove.  West Cove is also producing some of the best yellowtail action and an occasional white seabass.  Some of the boats have also been bringing squid over to San Clemente Island from Catalina where it is being caught at night off Ben Weston.

     Catalina Island has been producing flurries of yellowtail action along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish.  One of the best yellowtail areas on the back side of the Island has been while fishing off Salta Verde but one of the best yellowtail bites the past couple of days has been found along the middle part of the front side of the Island while fishing the area of Little Gibraltar.  

    The best zone for squid catching at Catalina while fishing off Ben Weston. There were squid boats offering squid for sale while anchored up outside of Avalon this morning, Friday, June 23, 2017.  Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.

* * *

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 timely and accurate information.

Big Fish Challenge

Mercury BIG FISH CHALLENGE Starts Soon

The Big Fish Challenge Returns June 30th

Visit the event website to join the fray – sign up for one, or all six species

The time has almost arrived. The second annual WON Big Fish Challenge presented by MERCURY OUTBOARDS lunges out of the starting gate Friday (June 30) at midnight, the first of 10 weeks of competition up and down the coast for the biggest saltwater game fish Southern California has to offer. With beastly bluefin right outside our backdoor, the timing couldn’t be better.

The event website,""  is up and running and it’s a breeze to enter the Challenge. Just click on the ‘Enter Big Fish Challenge’ tab on the home page and add each species ($10 per species) you want to fish for to your shopping cart, or go “all-in” for all six species for $40. The six eligible species are tuna, yellowtail, white seabass, dorado, lingcod and halibut, so take your pick or target ’em all!

 Once you’ve created a user name and password and paid your entry fee, you’re good to go for the duration of the 10-week event. Submitting your catch is also a no-brainer. Just click on the “Submit a Fish Weight” icon in the upper right hand corner of the webpage and upload your photo (the higher resolution the better). Enter your fish weight and select your species, weigh-in location and the week of competition you caught the fish. Enter your full name, hometown, boat name, and the date and location the fish was caught or any other details you’d like to add about your catch, then click on the “Save” icon. That’s it, you’ve made your submission and are in the running for the Challenge!

Check back in at "" as often as you’d like to scope out the competition and all of each week’s catches to see how your fish stacks up. Weekly prize packages will be awarded for the biggest fish in each of the six species divisions, with grand champion prize packages worth $5,700 going out for the biggest of each species at the end of the 10-week Challenge.

So get in on the action from the get-go and secure your spot in the Big Fish Challenge before it kicks off this Friday. Let the games begin...

San Diego Offshore Jackpot

Still time to get involved
WON’s 3rd Annual San Diego

Offshore Jackpot is only a week

away and space is limited!

The lineup of boats has grown to 17 total boats this year with all three Scott St Landings set to be a part of this year’s event. H&M Landing has 11 boats set with the Relentless, Constitution, Chief, Ocean Odyssey, Old Glory, Ranger 85, Legend, First String, Sea Adventure II , Daiwa Pacific and the Producer. Fisherman’s Landing has the Pacific Queen, Prowler, Condor and the Liberty. Point Loma Sportfishing has the New Lo An and the Dominator on line for the SD Offshore Jackpot. Assuming full loads on each boat, $10,000 in prize money will be doled out to the three largest fish weighed in. That’s some serious cash! With incredible prizes on the line as well, you will want to sign up early be sure to sign up early and bring your “A Game”!

The 1-day extended overnight tournament between sport boat passengers will pit experienced captains against each other, as they battle for the glory.

The trip departs June 29 and returns the next night. $275 per angler is the cost and this includes $20 jackpot buy-in.

Seven of the 17 participating boats are already sold out and others only have a few spots left so don’t delay. To book your spot please call or go online to the landings directly.

H & M Landing, (619) 222-1144 or online at Relentless, Constitution, Chief, Ocean Odyssey, Old Glory, Ranger 85, Legend, First String, Sea Adventure II, Daiwa Pacific, Producer

Fisherman’s Landing, (619) 221-8500 or : Pacific Queen, Prowler, Condor, Liberty

Point Loma Sportfishing, (619) 223-1627 : New Lo An, Dominator

Blake Warren's Blog

By George
If you are going to be on any road at 6 a.m. when the sun just starts to peek its forehead above the distant hills to the east, I suppose it’s a good omen to be on one with your namesake all over it, and that’s exactly where I found myself on Wednesday morning of last week as I motored the six-plus miles down Warren Road to the first launch ramp at Lake Skinner. There, I was due to meet friend, former WON BASS Editor and longtime WON staffer, George Kramer, for a day of catching up a bit… and to also try to do a little actual “catching” while we were at it as well.

freshwaterhalloffamerFRESHWATER HALL OF FAMER George Kramer showing how it’s done with the best fish of the day, a 4.67-pound Skinner bass. “Well, at least it’s got the head of a 6½ pounder,” he quipped just before the photo was taken.

It had been far too long since I last caught up with George in person, and I was looking forward to the midweek day on the water. I made it to the ramp a little later than I’d planned, and when I first saw George, he was off in the distance, working the far bank with something surface oriented. A quick wave from the launch ramp dock, and he went about pulling up his trolling motor and putting across the lake.

A few quick pleasantries and talk quickly shifted to fishing. George clearly had a game plan — as was fully expected — and a well-thought-out idea about how he wanted to approach the day’s work. He told me right off the bat that the lake had just dropped a little over three feet within the last few days, likely pulling the majority of Skinner’s bass off their comfy confines and cozy haunts of shoreline cover, and also likely killing any thoughts we might have had about running into a potentially rock-solid buzzbait bite. To the drop-shot it was, at least for George. I hadn’t been fishing enough lately, and I just couldn’t manage to coerce myself to start with the worm right from the get-go.

Opting to throw a chatterbait and an underspin clearly proved me to be the obvious moron of the group this morning after watching George stick one, two and a third solid fish on Roboworms — 6-inchers in Aaron’s Pro Shad the specific weapon of choice for the day. Me? I hadn’t even gotten a sniff.

“I've got a drop-shot rod set up for ya here anytime you want to use it,” George said. I was hesitant and told him about my (likely highly irrational) reluctance to go to the plastics just yet. He would never bring it up again. “I wouldn't want to encourage you or have you do anything that would go against your religion,” he quipped.

DROP-SHOTTING WEEDLESS 6-inch Roboworms deep into the tules produced a couple solid fish.

George broke down Skinner like a seasoned vet: “That sandstone extends wayyy off that point there.” “You’ve got deep reeds that are growing real tall, here, and the others over there that aren’t as deep and not as tall. What does that tell you?” “You see that mudline? There’s a little cut that runs right underneath it. It’s only maybe a foot wide, but it almost always holds fish.”

It was a legitimate tutorial and it seemed incredibly effortless. Just stream-of-consciousness fishing knowledge, rolling off the tongue as if second nature, all of the deep thought and the “figuring it out” already having been done, with bass gears that just simply refuse to quit turning. But I guess that’s just exactly what 55 years of bass fishing can do for you (Sorry ’bout that one, George. I needed to do it strictly for point-making purposes only).

“I've never said at any point that I'm an expert,” he said with one arched eyebrow. “But I did always say that I WAS an AUTHORITY.” Immediate laughs came from both of us.

More banter ensued. More talking shop. More knowledge dropped. More fish hooked and put on the boat… by George and the plastic worm, of course.

Over the course of our day and at some point during our back-and-forth, something dawned on me. I was fishing with a guy who, 35 years ago, did the exact same thing I find myself doing this very day. At just about the same exact age, at the same place and doing the same job, editing WON BASS and covering the SoCal freshwater scene. Funny how much things change and yet somewhat stay the same. Small world after all, indeed.

These are the moments that fishing is most perfectly suited for. Those seemingly subtle slices of life when any particular notion might happen to ring true to you for that brief moment in time when you happen to realize something that is actually very much worth realizing. And you just so happen to be in the best possible scenario for that to take place. Amid the quiet. Just you and another guy who loves to feel that fish bite at the other end. Not another care in the world. Total contentment.

GINGERLY BRINGING A near-5 pounder to the boat.

“There we GO!” George said as he reeled right into another good fish that brought about a Huck Finn-ish smile, one that is undoubtedly strictly related to something “fishing,” no matter whether you're 7 or 70 years old (sorry once again, George, I just truly needed to make another decent point here).

The bucketmouth was giving George its all and showing its resilience, and the first call for the net of the day was made. A good bass. Certainly looks like a 5.

“Let's weigh it,” George said. “Just for fun and to see what we've got here.”

The numbers on the handheld scale went up and down in the glare, and it finally settled in at 4.67.

“Well, at least it's got the head of a 6½,” George said with a wry smile. “If I could just get that one in the Open.”

Indeed, George. Indeed.

We found one more Kramer-savvy brushline that was holding fish and a few more Skinner bass were boated there too, by George.

Sometimes fishing can be as beautifully simple as just listening and learning. Taking your foot off the gas pedal and just enjoying what it is you're doing, where you're doing it, and whom you're doing it with. Some of the best fishing memories are often born on those rare occasions when catching fish becomes second in priority. Ego fishing is far beyond played out at this point anyhow.

Just get out there and dig it. That's what it's ultimately there for in the first place. Simply appreciating the moment, in the moment. Just taking it all in — and hopefully sticking some good fish while you’re at it.

Or perhaps it merely takes one lazy day of fishing with a Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer to shift your perspective a bit. I don't know. The experts live elsewhere. You'll have to go ask them. Hell, I'm not even an authority. Besides, it's better for everyone that way. Authority and myself haven't ever truly gotten along too well at any point along the way anyhow.

George absolutely crushed me in the end on a day that brought us a slower bite than either of us had hoped for prior to the sun coming up. Nine fish to 1.

The one all-too forgettable bass attributed to me? On a plastic worm, of course. What else? During our last hour putting lines in the water, I had finally caved in. Maybe I should have just listened to the old man (oops, my apologies yet again; last time, I promise) right from the time my foot touched the deck of the boat. Perhaps then I wouldn't have spent my Wednesday getting schooled...

By George.

AARON’S PRO SHAD wound up as the worm color of the day.


IT’S TOUGH TO beat mornings on the water.

FROG WATER — While a lake level drop of over 3 feet in the few days prior to our outing pulled a lot of bass off shoreline cover, there are definitely some pockets at Skinner that scream out for the frog.


Jim Niemiec's Blog

Foxtail alert! Serious issue for hunting dogs this season
With all the heavy rains that pounded all of California well into late spring there were some problems created. Washouts, flooding, mud slides and sink holes proved to be problems to some home owners, but Mother Nature also made up for nearly 5 years of drought with plenty of rain that triggered a massive growth of native vegetation across the state.

BE AWARE – FOXTAIL ALERT — It’s time to be watchful of being outdoors. Heavy rains triggered a massive growth of foxtail this spring and right now foxtails are dangerous to gun dogs, young wild critters and even hunters afoot. This photo was taken along a dirt road in the Inland Empire and shows just how many foxtails there are in the wilds. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

While all wild critters will benefit from great ground cover, more available food, lots of insect life and plenty of water sources, one result of too much rain was the emergence of vast hillsides and valley floors filled with foxtails. Many foxtail seeds that had buried themselves in the ground years ago found the right combination in rain and warm weather to emerge this past spring. As a result of an above normal bloom of foxtails outdoorsmen, gun dogs and wild critters are going to have to be more careful afield.

With recent hot weather, daytime temps approaching 100 degrees, most foxtails that were green a few weeks ago are now a golden/yellow color and dried up. While foxtails are not falling off the stems yet it’s only going to be a short time before this happens. A tour of the Inland Empire this past week showed patches of foxtails that were nearly knee high and this does not bode well for the weeks ahead.

Foxtails are troublesome critters to deal with. Any single foxtail, in its prime state, can end up sending a gun dog to a vet hospital for surgery. Many dog trainers stop working dogs in areas where there are foxtails though the summer months and turn their attention to working dogs over water where there is a less likely chance of having to deal with foxtails.

Western Outdoor News checked in with Tony Hendy, owner of Raahauge’s Pheasant Club located in Corona to get his take on foxtails.

“There is good mix of wild oats, native sage, grass and some spots of foxtails in our vast hunting fields. We won’t be opening up for upland game bird hunts until September 28, at which time there should be no issues with foxtails in our fields. Once foxtails fall to the ground they should burrow down and normally any that are still above ground will become wet due to dampness during the early morning hours and become harmless. I normally won’t take my hunting dogs during the summer and if I do, I’ll put some Vaseline around their nose, ears and anal areas, this seems to collect any foxtail prior to its getting inside a dog,” said Hendy.

On walks with our yellow Lab Sierra we try to stay away from foxtails although even on neighborhood walks there is an abundance of foxtail growing as a result of years of letting lawns die back due to the drought and more aggressive foxtail seeds taking over yards. If Sierra even walks through a patch of foxtails, we’ll take time to make sure that none are close to the many areas on a dog that are prone to allow entry into a dog’s body or blood system. It only takes a minute to check your dog out and that time is well spent when considering the expensive of a visit to a vet hospital and multiple surgeries to locate foxtail moving through blood veins.

Not only are gun dogs subject to dealing with foxtails as they run through stands of this potentially deadly plant, but young wild piglets and other newly born critters are often victims as well. Tiny pigs following a sow through shoulder high stands of foxtails are right now at the stage of having to deal with getting blinded by a foxtail or even worse getting foxtails up their snoot that eventually could get infected, perhaps killing that little hog or at least resulting in a massive infection. To some extent foxtails also could be dangerous for young turkey poults, quail and young fawns during the peak summer season.

We as hunters also need to be aware of foxtails when heading to hunting fields come opening day of dove season. Except for extreme desert regions, dove hunters are likely to encounter stands of foxtails spread out among patches of dove weed (turkey millet) that will be attracting flocks of mourning and white winged dove as the black seeds of this plant offer up an excellent native food source.

Talking about dove, it’s looking like there should be an awesome hatch of dove taking place with the likelihood of double hatches occurring throughout the state, across into neighboring Arizona and down into Mexico. Just this past week a pair of dove moved back into a hanging basket of this writer’s porch with both dove taking turns at guarding the nest. This second attempt at nesting is much later than previous years on the same nest that resulted in chicks being successfully hatched out by late April.

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