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CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Offshore anglers wonder what will be biting when the weather calms?
Southern California offshore anglers have been pretty much kept off the water this week as the past week has seen a lot of rainy weather from storms that have also brought wind and high seas. It is Friday afternoon, Jan. 18, 2019 as this report is being written and the latest marine weather forecast shows Small Craft Advisories currently in effect that are forecasted to remain in effect through late tonight.

Maybe there will be some boats out looking around offshore once the weather settles down but before the recent streak of bad weather there was still bluefin tuna and kelp paddie yellowtail action to be found out on the offshore fishing grounds. The bluefin bite had been scratchy but there were a few being caught and there were quite a few being seen. The best bluefin areas were while fishing to the east and the southeast of the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel, also while fishing 2 to 4 miles off the coast between the Newport Pier and Crystal Cove and also while fishing 2 to 5 miles off the coast between Point San Mateo and the Carlsbad Canyon. Of all those areas, the zone into the east and southeast of the oil rigs was the best.


Bluefin were being found by locating working birds, spots of bait, spots of breaking fish, spots of puddling fish, spots of foaming fish, meter marks and sonar marks. Once located, flylined and slow trolled sardines, flylined and slow trolled mackerel, Flat Fall jigs and surface iron were producing the occasional bluefin. The bluefin were ranging in size from 20 to 70 pounds with most falling within the 50- to 60-pound class.


Kelp paddies over a lot of miles of ocean were producing yellowtail. One of the most productive areas was for boats fishing 3 to 15 miles outside of the stretch of coast between Dana Point and Carlsbad. There was also some kelp paddie yellowtail activity for fish that were being found outside of San Diego in the region of the182 Spot, 224 Spot, 302 Spot and 371 Bank. The Legend out of H&M Landing was out kelp paddie hopping back on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 and they had a fish count of 3 anglers on an overnight trip catching 10 yellowtail.


The kelp paddie yellowtail have ranged in size from throwback sized fish of less than a pound on up to 15 pounds. Some kelp paddies were empty but if you found the right paddie it might produce limits of yellowtail.


There have not been many boats fishing at the Coronado Islands lately but last reports were of good numbers of rockfish biting. The Malihini out of H&M Landing fished the Coronados on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 and had a full day trip with 27 anglers catch 224 rockfish. Good areas for rockfish have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island while fishing in 35 to 45 fathoms of water.


The Premier out of H&M Landing has been running weekday half day trips into Mexican waters that usually target rockfish. They tend to fish the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island on these trips. The last report I have was from their trip on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 when 22 anglers on a half day trip caught an assortment of 220 rockfish.


There have also been a few bonito and yellowtail biting around the Coronados in recent weeks. No recent reports about surface fishing but if you want to give it a try, the best chances at finding surface fishing action around the Coronados were while fishing off the weather side of North Island and at the Middle Grounds.


Some sportboats have been running 1.5 day trips to fish Punta Colnett and they have been finding a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod, whitefish and an assortment of rockfish biting. Try to find meter marks, sonar marks or spots of working birds to locate the yellowtail. Once yellows are located, try yo-yoed iron or sardines fished on a dropper loop rig.


Point Loma Sportfishing had the Vagabond fishing a 1.5 day trip on Saturday, Jan.12, 2019 and they had 25 anglers catch 80 rockfish, 125 reds, 41 yellowtail and 4 bonito.


Anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border need to keep in mind that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Anglers seeking to fish for the rockfish/groundfish species that are covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters to fish for those species until March 1, 2019.


The fishing along the San Diego area coast is providing a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin and has also been producing a few halibut and bonito. There has not been much happening on yellowtail and there has been an occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for bass and sculpin.


Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin and the best areas for a chance at finding bonito action have been while fishing outside of Imperial Beach, by the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma, outside of Point Loma College and outside of the upper end of La Jolla.


As an example of the recent coastal fishing, the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing was able to go out and fish a morning half-day trip on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 and they had 19 anglers catch 11 calico bass, 5 sand bass, 2 sculpin and 1 bonito.


Private boater Pat McDonell of Western Outdoor News and the boat Robalo reported about going fishing on Tuesday morning, Jan. 15, 2019 with his friend Bill Regan aboard. McDonell said they got in a morning of fishing in good weather and reported finding what he called "very, very good" fishing for nice sized calico bass and sand bass. McDonell reported finding the hot action at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and said they caught calico bass to 4+ pounds and some sand bass that were in the 3.5- to 4-pound range. Hookup Bait plastics were reported to be working very well in the 3/8 ounce and the 5/8 ounce sizes. Fishing a rig using 2 Hookup Baits was also mentioned as being effective for the bass.


Tuesday was McDonell's first time using the new launch ramp facility at Shelter Island and he said it was considerably bigger than the prior facility. He was happy about it finally being opened and called it a great and nice looking facility. The only negative comment was that he said it did appear to be open to having a surge come through the entrance to the launch facility caused by wakes from boats that were passing by out in the main channel of the bay.


The most recent report from Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center is that the Oceanside Sea Center boats have been doing well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area and he reports that they have also been finding good fishing for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and an occasional halibut, triggerfish or white seabass while fishing the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor. Considering the time of year, Cacciola has been pleasantly surprised about how good the bass fishing has been for both sand bass and calico bass.


Cacciola says the water along the coast has been running 59 to 60 degrees and has remained relatively clean. Fishing with strips of fresh frozen squid has been working well for the bass and sculpin. Cacciola says the sculpin have been feeding on small squid and he has seen what he believes to be squid on the fathometer in the area outside of Carlsbad.


There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive halibut areas include the sandy bottom near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, the sandy bottom off South Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, the sandy bottom next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck located outside of Mission Beach, San Diego Bay and while fishing sandy bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.


The Dolphin out of Fisherman's Landing has a winter time halibut tournament going where they target halibut on Wednesdays. They were able to get out and fish last Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 and they found some success with the halibut. Their fish count was 21 anglers catching 4 legal sized halibut, 14 halibut that were released, 3 sculpin and 6 sand bass.


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It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where significant catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at www.976bite.com . Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.


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