Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin Bites Going Strong As We Enter the Fall Season!
Thursday, September 22, 2016 saw the official arrival of the fall fishing season and the arrival of fall saw the offshore fishing still providing some of it's best action of the year on yellowfin tuna and marlin. The fall months can provide some of the best offshore action of the year as the migratory fish will sometimes group up and go on feeding frenzies as they prepare to exit our local offshore waters to spend the winter in places with warmer water than what Southern California has to offer during the winter months.

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The yellowfin tuna are currently biting well for boats fishing areas within 30 miles or so of Point Loma, with the 9 Mile Bank, the 182 Spot, the 178 Spot and the area 10 to 15 miles outside of the stretch of coast between La Jolla and Solana Beach providing the best action. Most of the yellowfin stops originate from stopping alongside of spots of breaking fish, working birds, sonar marks or meter marks and fishing the yellowfin with sardines.

Most of the yellowfin are in the 15- to 40-pound range and the tackle selection for fishing the sardines depends on how aggressive a particular school of tuna might be at the time you find them. Using 20- or 25-pound test line with a fluorocarbon leader and a number 2 hook is a good all around way to go, but during the times when the fish get touchy, anglers have had to drop down to using 12- or 15-pound test line and leader with a number 4 hook. On the other end of the spectrum, there are times when the fish are biting more aggressively and you can readily get bit while using 40 or 50 pound test line and fluorocarbon leader with a size 1/0 hook.

San Diego area based boats on three quarter day trips, overnight trips, extended half day trips and 1.5 day trips have been fishing the yellowfin and some of the better fish counts from Thursday's fishing were the Liberty out of Fisherman's Landing that had 31 anglers on a 3/4 day trip catch 73 yellowfin tuna. The Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a 3/4 day trip with 22 anglers catch 52 yellowfin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing had an overnight trip on the Aztec with 19 anglers that caught 31 yellowfin tuna. H&M Landing had the Producer out on an overnight trip with 19 anglers that caught 42 yellowfin tuna. H&M also had the Premier out on a 3/4 day trip with 13 anglers that caught 29 yellowfin tuna. The Chubasco II with Chubasco 2 Sportfishing had a 3/4 day trip with 12 anglers catch 17 yellowfin tuna.

In a totally different zone, there have also been some yellowfin tuna and dorado biting for boats fishing the region outside of and below the 1140 Finger between 90 and 110 miles below Point Loma. Some of the boats fishing 1.5 day trips have been fishing down this way and finding near limit to limit numbers of dorado biting along with some pretty good numbers of yellowfin tuna.

There was some good bluefin tuna fishing for 40 to 125 pound fish last weekend for boats fishing the Desperation Reef area outside of China Point at San Clemente Island. Live squid was the key bait and private boater Bryan Cruz of the Double Cross reported that he and 2 other private boater friends were fishing Desperation Reef with live squid and said that all three boats caught their limits of bluefin tuna that went to 110 pounds.

There has not been much news coming from the Desperation Reef area during the week due to military closures and the attraction of the good yellowfin tuna bite going on in closer to the coast. There have been a few sportboats that have looked at the Desperation Reef area during the week that for the most part have left the area after a short amount of fishing time.

The marlin fishing has been very good during the week with the region around and about the 43 Fathom Spot providing the most action. Spots around the East End of Catalina have also been producing some marlin action as well. There has also been some marlin action incidental to yellowfin tuna fishing for boats fishing at spots such as the 182 Spot, the 178 Spot and 10 to 15 miles off the Coast between La Jolla and Leucadia.

Most of the marlin action has been on striped marlin but there was an estimated 500 pound blue marlin baited on the tuna grounds 10 miles west of La Jolla on Thursday and a jumper blue marlin was seen while fishing outside of the 182 Spot on Wednesday. Both the blue marlin sightings were reported by knowledgeable Skippers so I have no doubt that these fish were properly identified.

As an example of how good the striped marlin bite has been, on Wednesday, Captain Maurice Smith of the Dos Hermanos reported catching and releasing 4 striped marlin while fishing 3 to 6 miles easterly from the 43 Fathom Spot. Robbie Epsten caught and released 2 of the marlin, Jon Epsten caught and released 1 and Kevin Bohannon caught and released the other. Maurice said they found their action in a variety of methods with 1 caught from a baited tailer, 1 caught from a baited sleeper, 1 caught on a dropback mackerel during a trolling strike and the other being caught on a jig on the troll.

The fishing around the Coronado Islands has been pretty much of an unknown due to a lack of boats fishing the area because of the good yellowfin tuna action going on in local offshore waters. There was some information this morning about the Coronados though as a private boater gave the Islands a try and found the surface fishing to be slow. He said the water temperature had dropped down to 63 degrees and that the area was rather quiet with regard to signs of yellowtail, bonito and barracuda activity.

Even if the surface fishing around the Coronados may have slowed, there is still plenty of very good fishing going on for tuna and marlin as we enter the fall fishing season. The fall season can sometimes provide the best fishing of the year and I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the action sometime soon!

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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 timely and accurate information.

Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

Fish Hard, Party Harder!


Some great changes are in store for parties, check-in and a few rule changes, but the Cabo Tuna Jackpot remains focused on the teams that want to Fish Hard and Party Harder for big money come Nov. 2-5




Coming up is the 18th annual WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot, the largest and richest tuna tournament in the world and Cabo is ready to party. One thing you will see at Lands End is that tourism is way up at the No. 2 Mexican vacation destination, second only to Cancun.

This year, 150 teams and a record payout over $700,000 are projected after 143 teams competed for $649,800 over two days of fishing. Last year, faced with the loss of two venues for parties, adjusted and the feedback was, well, not as good as we expected. Thus, we made some changes.

– One, we reserved way ahead the outdoor theatre and its 200-foot movie screen for the Wednesday Yo-Zuri welcome party. There is a two-week film festival and the city squeezed us in between events. Thank you!

– Two, we are streamlining our check-in at the Tesoro to eliminate long lines and paperwork. Of course, people will always arrive late after pre-fishing that day or flying in, so that cannot be completely solved. 

THE CRUISE SHIP concrete pier in the marina. It’s 100 yards long, and can be accessed on foot or by water taxi on Saturday after 5:30 p.m.

— Three, the Saturday awards ceremony has been moved and thanks to the cooperation of the government agency API, we get to use the massive cruise ship pier, which is a football field long. We have two docks at the end, so you can take a water taxi right to the event. The event will be catered by Solomon's Landing, and will be streamlined to be shorter and will concentrate on winning teams, big drawing prizes, charity and honoring staff and sponsors. The many contests will all be moved to a new Fiesta format and venue on Friday.

— Four, the Friday Fiesta from 7:30 to 9:30 will be held at Maria Coronas, a beautiful downtown restaurant with a massive patio under huge jacarandas. Sponsored by Costa and Baja Cantina, there will be a fantastic band, a stage, many of the tackle drawings will be held that night, and all of the contests (Yamaha Guess the Fish, Seaguar/National Sticker, the WON Hard Luck Award, Show Me Your Costas, and Baja Cantina/Fishworks Best Dressed). A 200 to 300-shot slide show will be ongoing all fiesta long with scenes from check in and every sportfisher on the water, and weigh-ins over two days, results of the event, and plates and plates of hors d’oeuvres (don't worry about dinner). Winners of contests must be present, so we expect a large, boisterous crowd of 500. It won't be boring. There's a lot to give away. We needed to change it up since the sit-down buffet Fiesta was getting stale, and move all the contests to that night to make it more of a must-go and see event, and take the pressure off the Awards Dinner, as well.

The tournament as a major event continues to evolve on many fronts.

It all began 18 years ago, in 1999, when the Estrella Del Mar pulled into Cabo with two big tuna, the biggest in the panga from La Playita at 218.9 pounds. Last year we drew 146 teams competing for a record payout of $649,800. Five teams shared the money, topped by two teams that won over $200,000, and the champions, Team AMZ on the charterboat C-Rod that weighed in a 210 pounder.

This year we expect 150 teams and we have been working these past several months to make the Nov. 2-5, 2016 event bigger and better than ever. In 2014 we had $511,200 in the purse, last year it was $649,800. We hope to break the $700,000 mark in November.

So what is in store this year besides the event itself with two days of fishing and six tuna optionals and the $1,000 Wahoo/Dorado optional?

Of course, the fun all starts at Check-In at its usual spot in front of the Hotel Tesoro, and all but one of the great sponsors are back to provide fantastic gifts. Mold Craft was a new sponsor last year and is back, and will be giving out special soft head trolling lures to each team, so be sure to go by their booth and pick up yours. The official Gear Bags, this year embroidered with the tourney logo on the side, are again sponsored by Baja Cantina, and of course, each angler gets an official long-sleeve shirt by Costa listing all the champions of the 17 years of the tourney. Team AMZ from 2016 on C-Rod was added this year and their names were added to the Famous Tuna Wall at Capt. Tony's Restaurant on the marina.

There will also be hook packs for each team by Mustad, Seaguar fluoro coils for each team, Hi-Seas wire, Terrafin satellite maps by Jeff Gammon who will be back as an attending sponsor, Okuma giveaways, and Costa sunglasses gear will be on "sale" for charity, plus each team gets drawing tickets and wristbands for the Friday Fiesta and awards.

Women on teams will be given their own special tourney V-neck baby-t-shirts, and if you want an extra shirt, they are on sale for $20. As will be extra tournament flags, as 150 flags required for all boats/teams will be handed out to team captains, the 50 extras will be sold at $20 each. They are high quality. White with a color logo. Great for the boat or wall.

As always, charity will be a part of the event, and this year's charity to benefit the children of Cabo is again which conducts surgical clinics in Cabo by volunteer U.S. doctors and nurses the same two weeks a year, performing numerous operations to correct children’s cleft palettes.

More can be found on this effort in the Cabo website or at We hope you look into this program. It needs support so it can get matching funds. We raised $37,000 last year, and was matched by pharmaceutical companies. All money is used only for surgical equipment and supplies. Minerva Smith will be selling special event shirts this year, with the revenue going to the charity. There be a silent auction for a Jon Pettey Goldsmith Tuna Pendant, tackle packages, a trip to Alaska for two to Kingfisher, and more.


Then there are the various contests. Show Us your Costas! Is back for the start boat check-in. So is our Kingfisher/Yamaha Guess The Winning Fish's Weight Contest, Baja Cantina is again offering a Best Dressed Award (free meals for four anglers for the 2017 tourney) and Fishworks has joined in to give out four $125 clothing certificates for up to four new fishing outfits.

Of course, this year we will bring back the WON Hard Luck Award (we'll listen, anyway) for a free entry for 2017, and there is again the $10,000 Grand Prize Charity Raffle, the winner getting FOUR of every sponsor's products (Cousins rods, Okuma reels, Mold Craft lures, Costa sunglasses, Mustad hooks, Seaguar fluoro, Yo-Zuri lures, Seaguar flouro, Tesoro hotel stays and much more). The Seaguar/National Sticker contest is back, with a new sticker. Win a Seaguar tackle package and a free car rental from National.


There is also the Costa Cabo Escape Start Boat Charity Charter on Friday. If you aren't fishing and want to taste some great catered food by the Cabo Escape folks, watch the check-in and the wild 7 a.m. flare gun start, followed by a little salsa and line dancing spurred by free mimosas then you really should buy a $20 ticket and get up at 6 a.m. for the two-hour charter. Mimosas, juice and coffee will be served. The folks at Cabo Escape are donating the boat and the food, so every penny of that $20 goes to the Smiles International Foundation. 


More than 60 teams have signed up and claimed a team number, and jackpot money is coming in. The big fish over 200 pounds are already showing. Where will you be in November?

Pat McDonell, Director

Cabo Tuna Jackpot 2016 



If you have any questions, go to and if you still require some assistance, contact me at If you are need of wiring instructions to pay the entry and optional fees (wiring is the easiest and best), request the instructions and I will send them that same day.

Our 2016 CTJ PREVIEW is up, all 32 full-color pages in easy flip-read format. Here is the link. A special four pages are added from print version of 28 pages to this one, at 32 pages. The extra four pages are a how-to story by Capt. Mike Tumbiero and a feature on Smiles and the clinic I attended. If you want all the details on the event, schedule, added rules and what the sponsors are doing to make it more fun, new party sites, this is the spot to see it.

The official website has new and additional items on the event you should read. The links are below.

Signup questions, call Lori at (949) 366-0827. Note: for tourney questions, call me at (949) 366-0256 or

Link to 32-page PREVIEW

Click on next two links below to reserve a number by credit card at $100 or $1000. (Mail in an entry form or fax it (949) 366-0804, or email a copy of it to

Link to $100 credit card deposit to reserve team number:…

Link to $1000 team credit card payment for entry.

Optionals (6 tuna and 1 wahoo/dorado) must be paid by check or wire.…

Link to Schedule for 2016 (Three different sites for parties)…/schedule.php

Entry form

Jim Niemiec's Blog

An interesting dove observation
Dove season ended on a strong note with good reports being sent into Western Outdoor News from the Imperial Valley and across to those who hunted the South Ranch of the Cibola Sportsman's Club in Arizona. Mother nature really cooperated this past season, helping to bring on a very robust and long nesting season that contributed a lot of mourning, white-winged an Eurasian collared dove to the overall dove population.

MIXED LIMIT OF IMPERIAL VALLEY DOVE — WON hunting editor Jim Niemiec bagged his limit of mixed dove on two trips down to hunt a stand of salt cedar trees east of Brawley. Limits consisted of both mourning and white-winged dove, of which many of the mourning dove were very young birds as a result of a good hatch this summer and some still had pin feathers on their breasts. PHOTO COURTESY OF HANK OSTERKAMP

When hunting on opening day hunters can expect to harvest a mixed bag of dove, possibly consisting of all three species of dove. In that mix of 15 bird limits, during the early part of the dove season, many of the birds harvested were young birds that were hatched only a couple months (or less) prior to the opening day.

This hunting editor headed back down to hunt a salt cedar grove east of Brawley the last weekend of this season and found mixed results. While it took a lot longer to harvest a limit of dove there were plenty of opportunities on high flying dove, but the heat was almost unbearable with temps soaring to near 110 degrees by 10 a.m.

Interesting to note: This hunter's bag consisted of 14 mourning dove, one mature white-winged and a handful of ECD's. There had to have been an excellent dove hatch for Imperial Valley that appears to have been going on for a long time with perhaps even a third hatch taking place.

While hunting over a wheat field, close to the American Canal, you would have to pay a lot of attention to dove winging around that field. There was a mix of what this hunting editor calls Sonora dove, a small dove that usually flies in pairs close to the ground and they are not huntable birds according to DFW rules and regulations. There were also very young mourning dove coming to feed in this same field and they appeared in flight to not be much bigger than the Sonora dove, only that they had long tail feathers. Prior to taking a shot, proper identification in flight was important. A few of the smaller mourning dove harvested had to be only a few weeks old as they still had pin feathers under wings on their breast.

Looking ahead to the second half of the dove season, which opens on Nov. 10, there should be still plenty of mourning dove and Eurasian collared dove around to provide for a productive dove hunt. Good dove hunting is expected to take place across the entire Imperial Valley, over to Yuma and late season dove hunting in Arizona should be awesome. Those planning on hunting dove the late season should consider moving up to nothing less than size 7.5 shot in at least field loads for better knock down power on dove that will be mature with fully developed feathers.

Gary Graham's Blog

Newton nuances
Hurricane Newton developed into a high-end Category 1, sweeping up over the tip of Baja including Los Cabos and La Paz, before careening up and across Baja’s midsection in early September 2016.

Apprehensive locals feared the worst as the storm approached that night. In the wee hours of the morning there were power outages and flooded streets were reported via social media outlets as the eye hovered over Cabo.

IN THE COMMUNITY of Santa Rosalía, the seat of government for the Municipality of Mulegé, dozens of houses and vehicles were buried in rocks and dirt as a result of the torrential rains that accompanied the hurricane.

“I have no internet or power at my house but power is back up in many places. My generator is doing its job except for AC — very little damage around town. We should be back up to almost normal in a couple of days. Many stores and taco-type restaurants are up and running. For the most part everyone is fine, so no worries; it could have been a lot worse.”…Mike Tumbiero

Mexico is considered to have one of the best hurricane-preparedness processes in the world, so they were ready for Newton. Luckily, the hurricane remained a Category 1, the lowest, on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Palm trees were toppled along Cabo San Lucas' coastal boulevard and some windows were broken. Army Colonel Enrique Rangel said "There is only minor damage — fallen branches, some fallen banners, some cables... But there was calm in the city as firefighter’s cleaned refuse from the streets during the day.”

Later that week, Pat McDonell, WON Editorial Director, confirmed. “Hurricane Newton was a direct hit last Tuesday but with little lasting damage . . . just water and mud; the Cabo port was closed through Thursday even though it was flat calm with flat seas...”

Jonathan Roldan, my WON column partner in La Paz, also took to social media to reassure everyone that they made it through the hurricane fine, thanking everyone who had asked! He even went so far as to post a video admonishing everyone to, “turn up the sound to get the full effect of the hurricane!”

Conapesca, the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission, confirmed that five people aboard the shrimp boat Mariano Pérez X died. The vessel was traveling from Ensenada to Mazatlán when it was caught in the hurricane.

However, as the hurricane travelled over land during the day, up the east coast of Baja to Punta Chivato, videos of waves crashing over the sea wall on the Malecón in Loreto, posted mid-day confirmed Newton wasn’t done yet. Mulege, Punta Chivato and Santa Rosalia were in its path before it barreled across the Gulf of California in the dark. The town of Hermosillo, 60-miles inland from Bahia de Kino, reported wind gusts of 80-mph as Newton went past. The former hurricane continued across the Sonoran desert up into southern Arizona on Wednesday night.

Initial reports said damage from Newton was light, but that was before heavy rainfall took its toll.

Mexico 1 is washed out in three places between San Ignacio and Mulegé. Expect delays and detours.

In the community of Santa Rosalía, the seat of government for the Municipality of Mulegé, dozens of houses and vehicles were buried in rocks and dirt as a result of the torrential rains that accompanied the hurricane.

Judging from reports and photos of damage to Mex 1, from Santa Rosalía south the road is passable all the way down the peninsula, but there are a few areas where delays and detours should be expected.

Highway 1 from Santa Rosalia to Mulegé is in rough condition with many parts of the road washed out. It’s passable but be patient and expect delays and detours.

Santa Rosalía, Mulegé, and Punta Chivato experienced heavy flooding and roads washing out, causing difficult access. However, roads in and out of Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos are open and passable.

Scorpion Bay: The north road remains impassable. There is access on the south road for four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance. Drive with caution as there are many washouts and rough spots.

There is construction between Ciudad Insurgentes and La Paz with a six-mile bypass that is now washed out around Km. 60. Expect delays and detours.

Jennifer Kramer, Discover Baja Travel Club, recently warned, “Drive with caution and during daylight hours; it takes longer for damaged roads to be repaired in Baja than people are used to in the U.S. Unfortunately the areas in the middle of the peninsula often suffer the most after a disaster because they are farther away from the larger cities and resources.”

The fall season is always a popular time for many to travel down Mex 1on the Baja Peninsula. In years past, information about the effects of the weather on road conditions was tough to come by. Social media has been a welcome addition, allowing Baja travelers to be better prepared for their own Baja adventures by paying attention to the sometimes slightly different or varied accounts of recent events that might affect their travel plans.

Carrie Wilson's Blog

What’s required when packing out game?
Question: What are the laws on deboning a bear or deer to pack out the meat? I don’t know of any laws saying I cannot debone a deer or bear as long as I am able to prove that the quarters and heads are all part of the same animal. I'm just looking for clarity as I am heading into X9A for my first time and I plan on hiking into deep country on foot. (Brad P.)


Answer: This is a legal practice as long as you can verify what animal the meat belongs to. The only problem that may arise is when people are packing out multiple animals at the same time. If that’s the case, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) asks that hunters keep each animal separate to avoid any misunderstandings.

For deer, you must pack the antlers out with the meat to verify the sex, and the antlers must be tagged. With bears, you must pack the whole head out with the meat so that we can extract a tooth for aging purposes. You are not required to prove the sex of bears.

In addition, all hunters must comply with Fish and Game Code, section 4304, which prohibits needless waste of any portion of the meat that is usually eaten by humans.

Nontraditional measurement devices?

Question: I am aware that a person must be able to judge the size of their take, but are there any regulations saying what types of devices the person must carry? For example, I recently observed a group that were crabbing and their only means of measurement was a cut zip tie, but it was indeed the correct minimum length. (Katlyn G., Sausalito)

Answer: It varies, but for crab, the only requirement is that  the device be capable of accurately measuring the minimum size of the species (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05(c)). But, sometimes the regulations are very specific about the type of measuring device that is required. Persons taking abalone, for example, “shall carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches. The measuring device shall have fixed opposing arms of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(f)).

An object such as a ruler is capable of accurately measuring rock crab because size limits are “measured by the shortest distance through the body, from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part.” For Dungeness crab though, the measurement is “five and three-quarter inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).” Because of the curvature of the Dungeness carapace, and the need to measure the straight line distance across a curved surface between the points, a measuring device such as a ruler or zip tie is not accurate. CDFW recommends using a fixed or adjustable caliper for Dungeness crab. It does not have to be commercially purchased and we have seen devices cut out of wood or plastic that work fine.

Sale of valley quail during the offseason?

Question: Is it legal to sell pen-raised valley quail during the offseason to be used to train dogs? The pen-raised valley quail will have CDFW tags that I think only cost a few cents each. (Matthew W., Santa Rosa)

Answer: Interesting question since very few people raise California quail and instead raise bob white. However, the answer is yes, they can be sold if they were bred and raised under the authority of a CDFW Domesticated Game Breeder License (see Fish and Game Code, section 3201). The birds will need to be marked with game bird tags to differentiate them from wild birds. These tags are sold to game bird breeders through our License and Revenue Branch for less than four cents each.

Spearfishing with scuba before free diving for abalone?

Question: If I’m out spearfishing with scuba gear, can I leave the scuba gear in the boat to also free dive for abalone? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface-supplied air equipment to take abalone, and they cannot possess abalone on board any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. There is no problem transporting abalone and scuba gear together while on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba equipment to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or crabs of the genus Cancer, will need to make a separate trip for abalone.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at

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