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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater's Report: Bluefin orbiting but numbers dip

BY BOB VANIANPublished: Apr 19, 2017

Coastal and island scenes offers mixed bag including threshers

Bluefin tuna and yellowtail continue to bite for boats fishing offshore waters within 50 miles or so of Point Loma. The yellowtail bite remains good, but the numbers of bluefin have been slipping a bit in recent days. Some of the decline in the bluefin bite may be due to the recent weather conditions, which have included quite a few days of breezy conditions that have been accompanied by large swells. A stretch of nice weather might go a long way toward seeing an increase in the bluefin counts.

The best areas for offshore yellowtail and bluefin have been the Upper Hidden Bank, the Lower Hidden Bank and in the area between the Upper Hidden Bank and the 390 Bank for boats fishing between 35 and 50 miles of Point Loma.

The yellowtail have been 3- to 12-pound fish with most falling within the 3- to 7-pound range. Most of the bluefin have been 20- to 25-pound fish, but there are occasional larger fish hooked that have gone up over the 200-pound mark.

Private boater Harry Okuda of the Alfresco III went out on a 1.5-day trip aboard the Old Glory out of H&M Landing and reported a fish count of 16 anglers catching 1 bluefin tuna, 2 bonito and 80 yellowtail.

Okuda reported that their lone bluefin was caught on a sardine while fishing a kelp paddy. He said they also had bluefin come under the boat after a yellowtail trolling strike but said those bluefin were not interested in coming up to bite. Their other bluefin activity was from stopping on several sonar marks but those fish were also holding deep and were not in the mood to come up and bite.

Okuda reported wide-open yellowtail fishing on kelp paddies and said they were mostly 3- to 5-pound fish. He said he had an 8-pound yellow within his catch that was the biggest yellow of the trip.

The bluefin action has been originating from stopping on spots of breaking fish, puddling fish, meter marks, sonar marks, kelp paddies and the occasional trolling strike. A couple of productive trolling jigs have been cedar plugs and a Halco 130 in the purple tiger stripe pattern. Sardines, FlatFall jigs, Colt Snipers and surface iron have been effective when in a bluefin stop.

The yellowtail have been biting best on sardines and have been found on kelp paddies and from stopping on spots of breezing fish. The right kelp paddy can produce a wide-open yellow­tail bite.

There has not been much fishing pressure at the Coronado Islands lately with most boats fishing the bluefin and yellowtail offshore.

There was some increased thresher shark activity reported outside of La Jolla over the weekend. Private boater Captain Billy of the E Fish N Sea, the 6-pack charter yacht Tailblazen, and the yacht All Paid reported the owners of the All Paid went out fishing for threshers off La Jolla on Saturday and were successful in catching and releasing an estimated 150-pound thresher. The fish was caught and released while fishing along the 100 fathom curve outside of the lower end of La Jolla.

Captain Billy had the 6-pack charter yacht Tailblazen out fishing a half-day trip on Saturday and reported about fishing in San Diego Bay. He said the halibut were active but all the fish they caught were short-sized fish that needed to be released. They caught and released 6 short halibut on the trip and had quite a few raked baits that indicated additional halibut bites. It is good to see some halibut starting to get active in what has otherwise been a late start to the spring halibut fishing.

Aside from the bite on short halibut in San Diego Bay, the halibut fishing along the San Diego County coast remains on the scratchy side of things. There have been reports of occasional halibut activity being found by boats fishing outside of the Golf Balls above Oceanside, at the sandy bottom next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, at the sandy bottom adjacent to the Yukon Shipwreck off Mission Beach and in the area below and outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

Boats fishing off the San Diego County coast in the La Jolla area have been reporting scratching out an occasional yellow. They have been nice-sized fish in the 20- to 30-plus range. The best chance at finding a yellowtail has been while fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla in the 14 to 25 fathom depths. Surface iron, yo-yo iron and live mackerel have been producing the occasional yellowtail. Slow trolling with live mackerel has often been the best bet once some fish are located.

There is a chance at jigging some squid for bait outside of Scripps Pier at La Jolla but the best area for coastal oriented squid fishing has been outside of Newport Beach. Those squid have been found in the area ranging from the region of the Newport Pier on up to the Santa Ana River Jetties.

The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been producing some pretty good fishing for a mixed bag of sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and rockfish along with an occasional halibut. Productive rockfish areas have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the west and the northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the 270 out to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.

Some of the better areas for the bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the kelp off Imperial Beach, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Leucadia, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and the kelp at the Barn and San Onofre.

Boats fishing Catalina Island have been finding good mixed-bag fishing for calico bass, rockfish and yellowtail, and there has also been a chance at finding an occasional flurry of white seabass action. Some productive areas have been Church Rock, Salta Verde, Orange Rocks, the Vs and China Point.

The Ben Weston, China Point and Salta Verde areas on the back side of Catalina have been spots where there has been some squid to catch for bait at night but the squid fishing can be inconsistent. Squid boats have been offering squid for sale when they have it available. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 11 or 72.

San Clemente Island has been producing some flurries of action on 15- to 25-pound class yellowtail with an occasional hot bite being reported. Good rockfish fishing has been found at thereas well. The best zone for yellowtail has been while anchored along the ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove and China Point. The yellows have been biting on live squid and yo-yo iron, and most of the squid is being brought over from Catalina. Some recent rough weather days have hindered the fishing at San Clemente Island and a stretch of good weather might just result in some very good fishing for nicesized yellowtail.

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