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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE


Friday, June 15, 2018:

Bluefin Bite Improves and Yellowtail Action Remains Very Good at the Coronado Islands!

The offshore bluefin fishing has improved during the past week or so but it is still hit or miss fishing with regard to both locating bluefin and getting them to bite once located. There is a bit more consistency in being able to find some biting bluefin and bluefin are being found in more areas so there is indeed continued improvement to report in the bluefin picture.

The area of the 371 Bank and the area above the 390 Bank were the best bluefin zones yesterday which was Thursday, June 14, 2018. These areas are in Mexican waters but for those wishing to fish for bluefin above the Mexico border, the past few days have also seen some showings of bluefin in areas that are on the U.S. side of the Mexico border. The showings of bluefin in U.S. waters have been very much sporadic and hit or miss but it is encouraging to see the areas containing bluefin expanding to where more fish are showing in more areas.

Places where bluefin have been reported on the U.S. side of the Mexico border have been the area from 2 to 6 miles below and outside of the Corner, the 43 Fathom Spot, the 182 Spot, the 209 Spot, the deep water above the 181 Spot and inside of the eastern part of San Clemente Island. There has yet to be any consistency to the showings of fish in these areas but hopefully some consistency will be building as more bluefin continue to move in.

The best bluefin fishing has been in Mexican waters for boats fishing 1 to 4 miles southwesterly of the western edge of the 371 Bank. This has you fishing from 28 to 31 miles 202 to 208 degrees from Point Loma. Another top zone has been for boats fishing the trench up above the 390 Bank while working from 36 to 43 miles 212 to 218 degrees from Point Loma.

Fish counts from the fishing on Thursday, June 14, 2018 start with the Grande out of H&M Landing that had 25 anglers on a full day trip catch 4 bluefin tuna and 1 yellowtail. Point Loma Sportfishing had the New Lo-An fishing an overnight trip with 27 anglers that caught 9 bluefin tuna. Fisherman's Landing had a 1.5 day trip aboard the Pacific Queen fish on Wednesday and return home Thursday morning and 16 anglers caught their limits of bluefin tuna which was 32 bluefin tuna.

Most of the bluefin are in the 25 to 40 pound class but there are some bigger bluefin being seen and sometimes caught that have gone in excess of 200 pounds. Flylined sardines, sardines fished deep with a 4 to 8 ounce torpedo sinker attached with a rubber band, flat fall jigs and iron have been working for the bluefin tuna. There has also been some action on the bigger bluefin while kite trolling with Yummy Flyers. There has also been some action reported on kite fished live baits that are presented to spots of breezing fish and fish that are working meatballs of bait.

Most of the bluefin action comes from stopping on sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breaking fish which are often found under working birds. Areas with shearwater birds and tern birds have been likely spots to find a sonar mark, meter mark or see a spot of breaking fish.

There has been very good yellowtail fishing around the Coronado Islands and to add to the surface fishing action, there has also been a mix of calico bass, bonito and barracuda biting. The yellowtail have been running from 6 to 25 pounds with most falling within the 10 to 18 pound range.

Yellowtail have been found in several areas with the South Kelp Ridge, the Middle Grounds, the weather side of South Island and the weather side of North Island being productive zones. Once yellowtail are located, action has been coming while sitting on the anchor and while drifting.

For the yellowtail, try flylined sardines, surface iron and yo-yo iron. Surface iron and flylined sardines have also been productive for the barracuda. Calico bass have been biting on sardines, anchovies and plastics. Try small chrome jigs, sardines and anchovies for the bonito.

In addition to the surface fishing action at the Coronado Islands, halibut fishing has been improving with some halibut reported to be biting for boats drifting sandy bottom areas in the lee of South Island.

As an example of the recent fishing at the Coronado Islands, Thursday, June 14, 2018 saw the Liberty out of Fisherman's Landing fish a full day trip with 53 anglers that caught 169 yellowtail, 10 barracuda, 2 bonito and 40 calico bass. The Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing also fished on Thursday and had a full day trip out fishing with 30 anglers that caught 93 yellowtail, 57 calico bass, 5 barracuda, 2 bonito and 1 halibut. Seaforth Sportfishing also had a full day trip aboard the San Diego fishing a full day trip on Thursday and 37 anglers caught 115 yellowtail, 27 barracuda and 42 calico bass.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin and rockfish and there have been a few yellowtail, barracuda and halibut in the mix as well.

Kelp bed areas have been the best for the calico bass and have also been producing a few sand bass. Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the sculpin and rockfish and have been producing some sand bass and calico bass as well. Fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to hard bottom and structure spots has been best for a chance at a halibut.

There have been occasional showings of yellowtail and barracuda found breezing around under spots of working birds. There was some of this type of activity out in about 40 fathoms of water outside of Point Loma this morning (Friday morning, June 15, 2018) and there were several yellowtail caught on surface iron that was cast to the spots of breezing fish. Skippers reported that the schools of fish were fast moving. They followed the breezing fish out about 4 miles to the west from where they first found them in about 3 hours of chasing them around. Similar activity on what have mostly been barracuda has been reported occasionally being seen outside of Point San Mateo and outside of Dana Point. There are a lot of barracuda starting to bite as there has also been very good barracuda fishing to be found at the Horseshoe Kelp.

Halibut fishing has been improving with some legal sized halibut reported to be biting for boats fishing outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, inside of San Diego Bay, outside of Mission Beach, off Solana Beach and off Leucadia. Fishing the sandy bottom adjacent to structure and the sandy bottom adjacent to kelp and hard bottom has been the best bet for halibut.

Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports that the water temperatures in the kelp bed areas they have been fishing between Leucadia and Solana Beach have jumped up from having been in the 63 to 65 degree range to where they are currently in the 68 to 70 degree range.

Cacciola reports having some days of very good calico bass fishing and says they are finding a few sand bass biting as well. He says that 6 inch or smaller sized sardines or anchovies are the best bait for the bass. When they only have the larger 6+ inch sized sardines for bait he says that they have been catching the calicos by using chunks of those larger sized sardines. Cacciola reports that they have been catching lots of short sized calicos that must be released. He says that on the better days that they catch 3 or 4 keeper sized calicos per angler. In addition to sardines, the calicos have been biting well on plastics and he said that the Hookup Bait plastics and the Berkley Jerk Shads have been working well.

There have also been some yellowtail biting at San Clemente Island and at Catalina Island. Over at San Clemente Island, when the Island has been open, there have been some yellowtail biting for boats fishing off West Cove, Pyramid Cove, White Rock and Purse Seine Rock. The White Rock and Purse Seine Rock areas have also been good for calico bass and a few bonito.

At Catalina Island there has been a mix of yellowtail, bonito, calico bass and barracuda biting at spots around the Isthmus. There has also been good fishing for a mix of calico bass, yellowtail and bonito along with an occasional white seabass or halibut for boats fishing spots along the back side of the Island from the V's over to Ben Weston.

Squid has not been easy to catch and at times squid boats have been offering squid for sale while anchored up outside of Avalon. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 11 or 72.

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.

Mike Jones - KEEPING UP

West of the Pecos
If you consider yourself a Californian and if you’ve done any kind of traveling, you are well aware of the reaction we get. If you add “southern” to the description of your home turf, it can sometimes spin things off into uncharted territory. Everyone seems to have an opinion.

After spending 12 years in Texas, I am well-versed in the prevailing attitudes of the Lone Star State. In a place where you can see bumper stickers that say “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as soon as I could,” you can pretty much guess where conversations headed once my birthplace was revealed. If I needed to project a more forceful demeanor, I made the distinction that I was born not just in L.A., but East L.A., vato.

Eventually, someone would say something disparaging about San Francisco and I would have to remind them that while I had lived in northern California for awhile, “They really hate us up there.”


“Because we steal their water.”

Then, while I had them befuddled, I’d go in for the kill.

“Yeah, it’s kinda like how those Sooners to the north feel about y’all down here in Baja Oklahoma.”

It worked every time.

At the very dawn of my involvement in the world of freshwater bass, SoCal was barely on the national radar. On March 4, 1980, Ray Easley’s 21-3 from Lake Casitas changed all that. The bass fishing world was rolled back on its collective heels. Yes, forty-eight years after Georgia’s Montgomery Lake produced a 22-4 for George Perry, it seems another southern lake had given up a monster, only these waters were due south of Bakersfield.

For those who viewed the largemouth bass as a cultural waypoint more down-home than grits and chicken fried steak, the news was not fixin’ to get any better. They had yet to hear the name of the other lake in Los Angeles. Unlike Casitas with its rolling hills and stately oaks, Castaic was a moonscape, a rocky lunar-like expanse choked with enormous, sow-bellied unicorns. Here were fish so large, so obesely grotesque, they looked more like cartoons of big bass.

Then, as if adding insult to injury, San Diego reminded the bass fishing universe of its claim to a 20-pounder way back in the 1970s. In the land of perfect weather, a place where people didn’t need or deserve any more advantages, they had huge bass by the bushel. By the 1980s, a whole lot of those fish had gotten a whole lot bigger and names like Hodges and Otay began to resonate with a national audience.

For me, the barrage of good news couldn’t have come at a better time. As a western outdoor writer working the national bass circuits, the serious trash talk was over. I didn’t go out of my way to reveal my home address, but then again, I didn’t mind when someone asked where I was from.

In my best homage to James Bond, I answered the question with the obligatory pause and that oh-so-subtle inflection.

“California,” I purred. (Pause) “Southern California.”

I didn’t need the baccarat table, martinis or scantily clad femme fatales to set the stage. I usually had the aroma of a live bait tank mixed with bacon grease from the marina grill. It was, as the saying goes, all good.

Yes, it was a nice time to be Californian. If you weren’t, there was no good way for a bass fishing conversation to go. All the cards seemed to be on our side of the table, especially since flippin’ and finesse — two of the most significant bass tactics in recent memory — had California DNA. Eventually, swimbaits would add yet another chromosome.

If you kept your mouth shut, sooner or later, someone would drift into the 10-pound discussion without a clue as to how utterly weird things had become out West. And, without much exaggeration, it was easy to set them straight.

When asked about personal bests and the like, I found the most show-stopping response was “Out where I live, it’s easier to make a list of guys who haven’t caught a 10 pounder than the ones who have.”

After waiting a moment for their slack-jawed expressions to regain a sense of normalcy, you followed up with the coup de grace.

“Then again,” you sighed, not at all being untruthful and secretly wishing you were chewing on a hay straw and peering out from under a Stetson, “where I come from, unless you’ve caught a ‘teen’ fish, no one dares to do any braggin’.”

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Jim Niemiec's Blog

Shooting Sports Fair a total blast!
The return of Shooting Sports Fair to Mike Raahauge’s Shooting Enterprises after a year away was enjoyed by thousands and thousands of hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts. While Mother Nature warmed up to sunny days it never got as hot as the firing line, which saw constant action all day long. It was truly a wonderful event and one that speaks highly of the interest in firearms, ammunition and related hunting/shooting accessories to those all across California and for our neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada and as far north as Oregon.

NEW SHOTGUN FROM DICKINSON — Jim Bladen of Lakewood had an opportunity to check out the new Impala Plus shotgun with Tim Baily, president of Tim Baily and Associates. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

“Shooting Sports Fair set attendance records for opening day and attendance was almost to overflowing for those that showed up to enjoy a full day at the range over the weekend with family and friends. Parking was very well organized allowing quick access for those wanting to get to the firing line or to visit with other vendors. Outdoorsmen missed Raahauge’s not holding this event last year due to unforeseen circumstances but we feel that firearms manufacturers, factory representatives and other supporters of the shooting sports industry did an outstanding job of supporting and putting on this year’s Shooting Sports Fair,” said Cindy Raahauge.

Raahauge went on to add, “Over the weekend there will have been tens and tens of thousands of rounds of ammo fired by shooters who are more than willing to wait in line to test fire the latest in new rifles, shotguns and pistols. Not only does this event allow shooters and gun enthusiasts the opportunity to test fire new firearms, there are also many support vendors with an awesome selection of products and services offered. This is a huge event and there is something of interest to all attendees. In addition to just about every firearm manufactured on display, there was FREE fishing offered for the kids with an opportunity of hooking into a 20 lb. catfish, there was an outstanding display of CanAm ATV’s and the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife staffed a couple of booths that were very informative.”

Western Outdoor News spent the entire afternoon at Sports Fair and was amazed at the keen interest of those who were interviewed. Bob Mello of Costa Mesa attended his third Shooting Sports Fair and this hunting editor caught up with Mello just after test firing the new SigSauer Model 440 T.T. in the 556 caliber.

“This is really a nice shooting rifle and one that I looked forward to shooting on the firing line. It features a 10 round magazine that can easily be adapted to shooting .223 ammo. This rifle has been cleared for sale in California and should be available for sale at most retailers by the start of hunting season.”

Mello further stated, “Shooting Sports Fair offers a great venue at which to shoot the weapon of your choice. It’s kind of like going into an ice cream parlor and sampling all the different flavors offered.”

shootingamachinegunSHOOTING A 50 CAL MACHINE GUN — This WWII vintage 50 caliber machine gun ended up with a very hot barrel. Shooters were allowed to keep spent brass. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

WON was eager to spend a lot of time along the firing line and came up with the following observation on what those attending Shooting Sports Fair were most interested in. The most popular rifles/shotguns being shouldered and test fired where black tactical rifles of many different styles. Looking down the firing line just about every shooter had one in their hands while a skilled gun safety representative stood by to make sure of proper gun handling and assist in loading, cocking and shooting these many AR style firearms. Other firearms were waiting to be shot were displayed on gun racks. Secondly the most popular firearms selected were both sport shooting and hunting handguns with calibers ranging from .22’s clear up to some of the big hunting pistol calibers. Third in interest, and believe me there was a lot of serious gun enthusiasts with safety ear protection gear on, waiting in line to shoot the many big military automatics, while blasts ratchetting off down range bunkers and the gongs of hitting 50 gallon metal drums and distant steel targets echoed all across Shooting Sport Fair grounds. Surprisingly, by observation of that Friday crowd, was the fact that hunting rifles and shotguns were plainly beat out by black style firearms.

WON had a chance to talk with Scott Schalliol of Tim Bailey and Associates, one the United States largest rep group, about the status of the shooting sports industry here in the west.

“Jim, we are coming off a very strong year of good interest in all shooting sports industry products and our company’s feelings are that interest and sales will continue to show strength and grow in demand thru 2018 and beyond. There are a lot of great products out there for the shooting sports public,” said Schalliol.

There were many new products also for attendees to check out. Dickinson’s fine line of shotguns was topped off with their new Impala Plus sporting clays or clay target shotguns that offer new styling and smooth actions for 2018. Show attendee Jim Bladen of Lakewood had a chance to bust clays with this newest shotgun and was pleased with its smooth action, less recoil and good handling. This new Dickinson shotgun has a suggested retail price of $559.99. Making a new appearance at Shooting Sports Fair was Wolf Performance Ammunition with their main office based here in Placentia. Wolf offers a wide selection of rifle, pistol and shotshells, along with primers, cases and bullets, .22 Match ammo and a line of performance gear. Wolf ammo is available at all Turner’s Outdoorsman retail stores and Ammo Bros. locations.

Shooting Sports Fair is co-sponsored by Raahauge’s Shooting Enterprises, Turner’s Outdoorsman and Lucas Oil Products. For additional information on next year’s Shooting Sports Fair or to keep updated on shooting events at Raahauge’s log on to their web site at

EXPERT ATTENTION ON THE FIRING LINE — Standing by every shooter on the firing line at Shooting Sports Fair was an expert representative. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

GUN DOG SHOW — Professional gun dog trainer Paul Cacciatori, and his daughter Amy, put on a good show at the Shooting Sports Fair last week. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

SELLING SNAKE OIL — This cowboy put on a great western show while promoting Dr. Sam’s Tonic. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

LUCKY SPIN WHEEL AT TURNER’S OUTDOORSMAN BOOTH — Many attendees at Sports Fair walked away with shooting accessory prizes. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


WON/Apollo Charter - Yo-Zuri
Cow Town: Apollo Charters

We had the pleasure of spending three nights at sea with Apollo Charters and Western Outdoor News! We landed 13 tuna ranging from 130 pounds to 327 pounds! What an amazing trip. These fish were landed on Yo-Zuri TopKnot leader from 100- to 130-pound test. — Tyler Freeman from Yo-Zuri

Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

Returning to my roots
Before I begin my account of my recent trip to Loreto, I would like to comment on a very sad happening some 450 miles away. I join with others in expressing my outrage at the tragic news of the recent homicides in Bahia de Los Angeles. Hopefully, the perpetrators of this horrible crime will be apprehended quickly, and peace and calm can be restored to this community. My sympathy goes out to the families of both Jo Anne Butler and Ray Ball.

At the end of May, I was invited to tag along with the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) team, Ken Franke, Edwin Reyes, Pete Gray, and Rick Cutler, along with Celia Conditt and Captain Art Taylor of Searcher Sportfishing.

THE MOST FASHIONABLE is the La Mision, a 70-room hotel located on the Malecón offering extraordinary views of the glistening Sea of Cortez, located just a few short blocks from the launch ramp and Marina.

The entire team was headed down to Loreto to take part in the 6th Gastronomic Festival of the Almeja Chocolata, which would include a live broadcast of Pete Gray’s “Let’s Talk Hookup” on Saturday morning following the Yellowtail Tournament flare gun start at dawn.

As most of you know, Loreto was where my Baja journey first began decades ago, and this was an opportunity for me to return to my roots. On this trip, we used the Cross-Border Xpress as our port of entry, and less than 45-minutes from our arrival at the border we were at the Aero Calafia gate awaiting our flight.

I have visited Loreto countless times. What seemed like a small village on my first visit, has by comparison to other cities in Baja Sur retained that small-town atmosphere despite the many changes over the years.

Ed Tabor is long gone, as is his Flying Sportsmen Lodge where I stayed on my first visit. However, some colorful hotels now line the Malecón. The most fashionable is the La Mision, a 70-room hotel located on the Malecón offering extraordinary views of the glistening Sea of Cortez, located just a few short blocks from the launch ramp and Marina.

Before dinner our first evening, we had a meeting with the members of the event committee, along with business owners and visiting government officials, to determine the subjects that they would cover during the radio program.

We were later joined for dinner by representatives of SEPEDA and CONAPESCA. The hotel chef outdid himself with an impressive array of local seafood dishes. The team and visitors bantered over who would catch the largest fish on Friday with the winning angler/team earning a dinner at the expense of the loser.

On the morning of the tournament, light wind and nearly flat seas greeted the teams as they topped off the bait tanks with live bait and headed north to San Bruno where a handful of boats were already fighting fish.

The morning passed quickly. Only a handful of yellowtail were caught with Celia Conditt and Art Taylor each scoring one. Ken Franke and Pete Gray failed to match them which provided Art and Celia with bragging rights all weekend, plus a free dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for lunch before part of the team headed for a guided tour with VIVE Loreto, Rafael Villegas, and Maria to Mission San Javier, one of the oldest and best preserved of all the Jesuit missions in Mexico and the U.S., located only 32 km outside of Loreto on a paved road through the foothills.

BY THE END of the day, the largest fish of the tournament was a 28.2-pound mossback belonging to Team Harker.

Later that evening after strolling through the quiet street in front of the Mission in town, we had dinner at the popular Mi Loreto, a family restaurant known for its truly authentic traditional Mexican foods, only steps from the Mission de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó.

The following morning began before dawn on the jetty surrounding the Marina as local anglers and government officials gathered to signal the start of the fishing tournament. The flare streaked over the Bay, and 22 teams raced toward their favorite spot in search of the largest yellowtail.

The two-hour live radio show, “Let’s Talk Hookup” was broadcast from the 4th floor of the La Mision Hotel overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Throughout the show, a steady stream of government officials, locals representing hotels, sportfishing, diving and other companies involved in tourism popped in. Pete and his guests fielded callers’ questions about what Loreto had to offer its visitors during their stay.

From 12 noon until 3 p.m. there was a parade of boats returning to weigh their catches. Over thirty yellowtail were caught, but only sixteen fish were weighed as the largest fish only scored. By the end of the day, the largest fish of the tournament was a 28.2-pound mossback belonging to Team Harker.

The centerpiece of the weekend was the 6th Annual Gastronomic Festival of the Almeja Chocolata which also included the award ceremony for the fishing tournament. The Gastronomic Festival attracted hundreds of tourists and locals alike who gathered to taste the traditional Loreto cuisine.

“The cuisine of Baja California Sur is recognized worldwide for the authenticity and deliciousness of its dishes, making it an important tourist attraction,” Secretary of Tourism, Economy and Sustainability (SETUES), Luis Humberto Araiza López, declared.

The secretary emphasized that this traditional festival internationally projected the vast and rich variety of Loreto cuisine, which in addition to its natural beauty and historical richness, attracts hundreds of people from different countries each year to taste the dozens of dishes made from local clams, fish, and seafood.

Following dinner, the cash awards, along with invitations to compete in the great Final SEPESCA 2018 series to be held August 10-11 at Loreto, were distributed to the winning teams.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

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