Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Still good numbers of yellowfin...
Amazing as it might seem, recent trips to the Tanner Bank have still found good numbers of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, skipjack, bonito and yellowtail biting. It is Nov. 21 and not many boat have been out fishing, but there have been a few boats out and those that have ventured out to fish the Tanner Bank have for the most part been finding good mixed bag fishing. Most Skippers have been choosing to fish at the Tanner Bank but the last report I had from the nearby Cortes Bank was that there were also some tuna biting at that location.

The weather is a big factor to consider while fishing at the Tanner Bank and Cortes Banks. There have been some recent days of bad weather with 20+ knot winds out by the Cortes and Tanner Banks. It can get rough out there, especially during the cold weather seasons and someone planning a trip should take a careful look at the weather forecast before making the decision to go.

A good depth range at the Tanner Bank has been in 18 to 25 fathoms of water and to pinpoint it further, some of the best action has been reported while fishing in 21 to 23 fathoms of water. Some Skippers have been drifting by spots of breezing fish or over meter marks. Some Skippers will drop the anchor and fish the meter marks or breezing fish while sitting on the anchor. Some Skippers will do a combination of those techniques and will drift until they start catching fish and then drop the anchor.

Sardines have been the best bait and having a variety of line tests with varied tests of fluorocarbon leader will allow you to adjust how heavy of line you are using if the fish get touchy. At times, anglers have dropped down to using 15-pound test outfits and the lighter line tends to get you more bites from the sometimes touchy bluefin tuna. Having outfits equipped with 15-pound, 20-pound and 25-pound test should have you well equipped for the tuna fishing and having a heavier outfit in the 40- to 60-pound test range would be nice to have if you got into some of the nicer sized yellowtail.

The bluefin tuna have been in the 20- to 25-pound range, the yellowfin tuna have been in the 10 to 18 pound range and the yellowtail have ranged up into the 20+ pound class.

As an example of the fishing, the Oceanside 95 out of Helgren's Sportfishing ran a 1.5 day trip on Wednesday that had 26 anglers catch 41 bluefin tuna, 43 yellowfin tuna and 35 yellowtail.

There has not been much coverage of other offshore areas but there were some yellowfin tuna reported to have been biting early in the week by a couple of boats fishing the offshore banks outside of Ensenada. A private boat picked up a double and a triple on yellowfin tuna while straight line trolling through the zone on their way further south. Another private boat gave it a try the next day and their report was of catching 6 yellowfin tuna from single jig strikes. This action was found while fishing in 67.5 to 68 degree water while located about half way between the Banda Bank and the 238 Spot. This puts you down around 65 miles 159 degrees from Point Loma.

There have not been many people out looking for marlin but there was a boat that hooked and lost a marlin last Saturday. Their action came from a blind jig strike that was had while fishing in about 90 fathoms of water off North Island at the Coronados. My guess is that there are still a few marlin to be found in local offshore waters.

The Coronado Islands are still producing some surface fishing action for yellowtail and bonito but the bite has been on the overall decline. The best zone for a chance at yellowtail has been while fishing the Pukey Point area at North Island and the Middle Grounds. Other areas where some yellowtail activity has been reported have been the south tip of North Island, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. Most of the yellowtail action has come from stopping on meter marks or sonar marks that are being found in the lower half of the water column. Productive techniques have been fishing a sardine on a dropper loop rig or fishing yo-yo iron. Good color choices for iron have been blue and white, scrambled egg and blue and chrome.

With the general decline in the Coronado Island surface fishing action, boats have been spending more time fishing for rockfish and the bottom fishing has been very good. Hard bottom areas out to the north and northwest of North Island have been producing well. A good depth range has been in 30 to 45 fathoms of water. The lower end of the 9 Mile Bank has also been a productive bottom fishing zone while fishing on the Mexican side of the border in 60 to 80 fathoms of water.

The San Diego County coast is still producing some scattered yellowtail action. Look for yellowtail by locating deep meter marks found around hard bottom rockfish areas outside of Box Canyon, Leucadia, Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla, the Dropoff at Point Loma and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. The structure of the Imperial Beach Pipeline has also produced occasional yellowtail action. Also keep an eye out for spots of yellowtail that tend to be more middle depth or surface oriented while fishing the kelp line outside of San Onofre, Leucadia, Solana Beach, the Dropoff and Imperial Beach.

A reminder is that the fishing for California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata) that are commonly referred to as sculpin is currently closed in California waters and will remain closed through December 31, 2014.

Things have been winding down some but the fact remains that there is still a chance at catching bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, skipjack, yellowtail and marlin as we approach Thanksgiving week. I hope you can get out and sample what the late season fishing has to offer.

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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 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.

Chris Dunn - The Fishing Weatherman

The Fishing Weatherman Report for Nov. 20, 2014
Here's this week's coastal weather video forecast...

Cousins Surf Fishing Round-Up

Squid biting in rocky and kelp areas
The rockfish and cabazon bite has been very good off Gaviota according to Hook Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara. Anglers soaking fresh cut squid are taking a mix of grass rockfish, johnnie bass and cabs to 4 pounds. Vista Point and Trestles have also been good spots. The perch bite has also been very good off Gaviota and Goleta on Gulp! Sandworms in camo. The fish have been ranging from ¾ to 1½ pounds with the occasional 2 pound model. Bonito are drying up.

MALIBU — The perch bite continues solid off Oxnard beaches according to Ginny at Wylie’s. Anglers throwing Flash Minnows in metallic sardine have been scoring fish to 2 pounds. Fifth Street has been a good place to look. The squid bite continues good in the rocky and kelp areas off Pescador and Will Rodgers. Anglers are taking a mix of calico bass, grass rockfish, yellowfin croaker and cabazon. The Charthouse has been a good place to look for halibut and the occasional white seabass. Most of the halibut have been from short to legal with the occasional double digit kicker.

REDONDO BEACH — The bite on small perch has been wide open from El Segundo to Torrance Beach according to Just Fishing. Motor oil grubs and Gulp! Sandworms have been taking perch to 1½ pounds. The leopard shark bite continues strong off the El Segundo Jetty. Slab mackerel is producing fish to 25 pounds. Still some bonito in and around the harbor.

SEAL BEACH — The surf perch are on the bite reported to Big Fish. Surfside and Bolsa Chica have been kicking out perch in the ½- to 1½-pound class. Green and chartreuse carolina rigged grubs have been producing well. The opaleye bite has taken off with fish to 4 pounds reported taken off the San Pedro Jetties. Long rods, pencil floats and moss are the right combination. Halibut bite a little on the slow side. Bonito also starting to thin out. Still a few lunker corbina cruising the warm water pockets.

COSTA MESA — A few hard-core corbina anglers still scoring quality fish off the streets and the wedge. Ghost shrimp and lugworms producing bites on some quality late season fish. Stealth presentation a must as fish are very wary. Halibut bite at River Jetties continues to improve. Anglers making and fishing live smelt are doing best. Smelt pattern swimbaits and jerk baits also producing. Bonito schools thinning out off the piers.

DANA POINT — Shark bite off Doheny has been good reported Hogan’s. Anglers soaking squid have been doing well on leopards, smoothhounds and rays. The lugworm bite has also been good off Doheny. Anglers are scoring a mixed bag of croaker, perch, sand bass and the occasional corbina. The harbor has been holding a lot of smaller halibut and the occasional white sea bass. Small plastic jerk baits like Gulp! Minnows and Jerk Its fished on the drop shot has been the technique. Good calico bass bite over the cobblestones off San Onofre on Rapala XR-10s in rainbow trout.

OCEANSIDE — Overall slow bite according to Pacific Coast. The water rolled making for tough fishing on all species except some smaller perch. Best bet has been in the cleaner, warmer water off Torrey pines and Blacks. Lagoon action slow.

Compiled by Gundy Gunderson

Steve Comus' Blog

Thanksgiving and hunting
Consider going on a hunt this year during the long Thanksgiving weekend.

For me, Thanksgiving means hunting. It is something that just was done when I was growing up. No one made a big deal of it. They just did it.

Typically, meat from the hunt was combined with other goodies to make a truly memorable feast — a feast that generally continued both formally and informally from Thursday through Sunday.

FAMILY HEIRLOOMS COME from different eras, depending on when they became part of a tradition. Here, for example, is a muzzleloader from the early 19th Century, a double-barreled shotgun from the early 20th Century, and a semi-auto from the early 21st Century. Each one was new at some point in its existence. Using a family heirloom on a Thanksgiving hunt adds still another level of meaning to the event.

There were no wild turkeys in the area where I grew up, so we hunted what was available — pheasants, quail, rabbits and such. Had they been available there at the time, we gladly would have added deer, moose or elk to the hunt and the menu.

Type of hunt and game is merely coincidental to the ethic of Thanksgiving. The operative concept is that hunting and Thanksgiving be combined, both in thought and deed.

And the hunt doesn’t have to be on Thanksgiving Day itself, although that is really nice if it can be scheduled that way. The hunt could be anytime during the long weekend.

Assuming these Thanks­giving Day forays are or become a family tradition, it is really fun to take along one or more of the family heirloom guns on the annual festival hunt. It adds another level of enjoyment to the overall experience.

Hunting is tradition. It is one of the original human activities. Truly, it, like the bounty from fields and woods celebrated originally in 1621 need to be practiced, in order to be passed on to future generations.

For those who do not think that they have a family heirloom gun, think again. A brand new gun this year can become an heirloom in the family if it is used annually for the Thanksgiving Safari. That’s what is so beautiful about the whole concept: It doesn’t matter when a person gets into the game, the only thing that matters is that they get into the game.

It is very easy not to go hunting over the Thanksgiving weekend. There are all kinds of other things to do, to say nothing of having to put together the entire feast itself.

There are sports games on television throughout the entire weekend, and all kinds sales at stores where shopping has become its own version of hunting for some folks.

And for some members of the family, those other kinds of activities make sense and are fine for them. But for those of us who enjoy hunting, Thanksgiving is special.

I still can remember vividly how excited I was to go on my first Thanksgiving hunt — I was a youngster. The year was 1949. Since then, I’ve missed Thanksgiving hunts only a very few times — when I was in the Army in far away places with strange sounding names.

Of course, I plan to go out again this Thanksgiving. It’s what I do. And I invite all to join me in spirit on such hunts during that special time of year. It’s the right thing to do.

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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox. net.

Bill Varney's Blog

Big Winter Surfperch
When winter rolls around most fishermen put away their long-range gear (although this year may be the exception) and stay high and dry until spring. But for surf fishermen the season is just beginning as they gear up for the “slabs” of winter. Up and down the coast surfperch gather to begin their spawning cycle and monster fish that hide between rocks and structure in summer make their way onto the beach.

Along the Pacific coast we have twenty-three species of surfperch with nineteen of those in California alone! The most commonly targeted surfperch include barred, redtail, walleye, calico, buttermouth and opaleye surfperch. The current record for barred surfperch is an impressive four pounds two ounces caught in Ventura by Fred Oakley.

FISH FOR SLAB surfperch near rock structure in winter.

Combining the right tackle and rigging is important if you want to have luck in the surf. I like to use a nine-foot spinning rod with a four to twelve pound test line test rating and a lure or sinker rating of 5/8 ounce. Having a limber tip is important for hooking and fighting fish and using an ultra light rod allows me to move up and down the sand with ease. Match your rod with a 2000 or 3000 series spinning reel loaded with fresh mono and you’re ready for the beach.

For presenting bait I use the Carolina rig. This is a simple rig made up of a 1/4 to 3/4 sliding sinker, 6mm red or orange bead, black swivel, eight to twenty inches of six-pound fluorocarbon leader and a hook. For hooks I like to use octopus style hooks for small baits and a sproat bait holder hook for longer baits like ghost shrimp or worms.

Perch are generally not picky eaters but they do like to forage on foods that occur seasonally along the beach. Sand crabs, worms, mussel, clams, ghost shrimp, Gulp! sandworms, grubs and hardbaits all work well to attract perch. But the true secret to catching the biggest perch is to use, when the time is right, sidewinder crabs.

“Sidewinder” or lined shore crabs are found in any marine environment where you find rocks and moving water. These are the crabs you see scurrying across the rocks and into a crevice as you make you way out onto the jetty. Considering sidewinders were used to catch the last two record barred surfperch it’s easy to see they work!

Catching sidewinders can be a bit tricky so here are some tips. I like to use three methods to catch crabs. First, find a harbor or jetty and approach the rocks while watching for crabs. Keep an eye on at least one crab and as you move closer follow it to the crevice it runs to hide in. Use a butter knife or screwdriver to pry it out and then place it in your bucket or bait belt. So that’s the hard way.

Another way to catch sidewinders is to attach a coffee can to twenty feet of string. Place hardware cloth inside the can and cover it with a bit of anchovy, mussel, cat food, etc. Walk out on the rocks and lower it down between the boulders. Come back in twenty minutes and pull up the can to catch your crabs.

But by far the easiest way for agility challenged fishermen like myself is to find areas where rocks are about the size of a shoebox. Go here at low tide and just roll over the rocks and viola, there they are, ripe and fast moving for the picking. For protection, be sure to wear gloves when working near rocks as they many times have broken glass around them and the barnacles that collect on the bottom of rocks are extremely sharp. Lastly, let’s not forget to mention the agony of a crab claw pinch. So watch out!

To keep sidewinders alive and ready to fish be sure to keep them in a lightly moistened plastic tub (don’t forget the lid or they’ll be in the living room before you know it). Keep the tub in a room or ice chest whose temperature is between sixty to seventy degrees. Because sidewinders are hearty they will live for up to two weeks provided they are rinsed with salt water and fed a mussel, anchovy, etc. every few days. Don’t be surprised when you go out to check on them and one is missing. This means they are hungry.

SIDEWINDER CRABS WORK great for catching huge surfperch.

Hooking sidewinders crabs is easy. Lined shore crabs have a distinct egg flap on their underside. The flap is found near their backside and may be a half round or triangle shape. Using a #2 octopus hook (Gamakatsu split shot/drop shot, Owner mosquito or Ultra Point Mustad) insert the hook into the egg flap and all the way though the body. Your hook and barb will now be exposed and provide a great hookset.

And here’s the most important tip about using sidewinders: Time of year is very important. Surfperch search for shore crabs in the winter months from November through April. So they work best during times where the water is it’s coldest. Another important tip is to remember that most surf fish don’t nibble bait. They actually inhale their food, crush it in their throat and then spit it out and eat the pieces. So as soon as you feel a pull or nibble reel down, lift your rod and set the hook. If not, the hook that was just in their mouth is now floating away as they eat the pieces of crushed bait around it.

Why do sidewinders work so well? The answer is very simple and logical — if you think like a fish. First, surf fish move away from the open beach as winter comes to find a place to hide and feed, away from the winter surf and surge. Most bait, like sand crabs, move away from the open beach making foraging for food difficult. The biggest perch hunker down in areas where rock meets sand. Here they find safety and a great place to search for food — especially when the storm surf of winter knocks sidewinders from the rocks and into their mouths.

Although surfperch are everywhere along the coast many of the biggest fish call rock structure like jetties and reefs their home. In summer you can look just about everywhere for perch but when winter comes the biggest fish are always near structure. Look for areas where rock meets sand; Jetties or groups of rocks just offshore. Fish your bait here near the rock/sand edge. Downsize your sinker and shorten your leader as this will help reduce your snags. If your bait moves away from the rocks reel in and recast being sure to fish right on the sand/rock edge.

As with any other fish in the sea proper management is important to keeping surfperch healthy. Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research estimates that as many as one million surfperch are caught each year. So in order to keep the perch biomass healthy we recommend that you release pregnant females immediately back into the ocean.

Jason Scribner from has written a great article on how to release fish back into the surf. Jason offers great tips on why this is important and how to properly catch, photo and release pregnant female perch. Check out his surf fishing forum for more information.

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Bill Varney is a fourth generation Californian whose passion for surf fishing is detailed in his book: Surf Fishing, The Light-Line Revolution. Check out his Cousins surf rod series at along with all the other surf tackle he uses every day. Find out more about his seminars at and be sure to visit his forum where you can read and post surf fishing reports and listen to his fish report each Thursday.

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