Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Yellowtail pop off North San Diego County

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Jan 02, 2019

Rockfish closure in effect

Winter is making its presence known with a weather system passing through Southern Cali­fornia that has Small Craft Advisories posted and strong wind and rain in the forecast. This has been yet another in a series of systems that has passed through the region in recent weeks causing offshore water temperatures to drop into the 62- to 63-degree range and pretty much put an end to the late-season run of bluefin tuna, kelp-paddy yellowtail and striped marlin. I use the words “pretty much put and end” because as amazing as it might be, there was still bluefin and yellowtail activity reported in local offshore waters over the weekend of Dec. 29 and 30 and again the morning, Dec. 31.

On Saturday, there were spots of breaking bluefin tuna being reported inside of and on top of the Ridge between the 181 Spot and the 182 Spot. The Skipper reporting had seen several spots of breaking bluefin and tried baiting the spots of fish in a variety of ways that included using a kite but had not been able to get them to bite.

There were also kelp-paddy yellowtail in the picture over the weekend with biting yellows reported on paddies found in an area ranging from 6 to 10 miles off the coast between Camp Pendleton and Leucadia. Some of the kelps were holding very small throwback yellowtail and some were holding fish that were better-sized to 12 pounds. Another zone that produced some yellowtail over the weekend was near the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel for boats fishing yo-yo iron dropped to meter marks.

You never know what you might find and where, and as late as Monday morning, a private boater who was fishing a kelp paddy that I believe to have been found about 8 miles off the Hovercraft Station area off Camp Pendleton reported catching a 30-pound bluefin tuna and a 10-pound yellowtail. At last report, they had another yellowtail hookup going.

I have not heard of any striped marlin being seen for a couple of weeks, but I imagine some people might want to try catching the first marlin of 2019 when the weather permits. For what it might be worth, the last areas where marlin were being seen were outside of Dana Point, in the deep water outside of the 277 Spot and in the 40 to 100 fathom depths off the East End of Catalina in an area ranging from the Rock Quarry over to Church Rock.

There have not been many boats fishing the Coronado Islands lately, but the Malihini out of H&M Landing was out on Saturday and found very good bottom fishing for a mix of reds, lingcod and an assortment of rockfish. They also found a bit of yellowtail activity and some bass and bonito biting. The Malihini had a fish count of 25 anglers on a full day trip catching 200 rockfish, 35 reds, 5 calico bass, 1 sand bass, 1 sheephead, 3 lingcod, 18 bonito and 1 yellowtail.

The best chances at finding surface fishing action around the Coronados have been while fishing off the weather side of North Island and at the Middle Grounds. 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 35 to 45 fathoms deep.

The fishing along the San Diego area coast has seen a lot of boats transitioning into a rockfish fishing mode and finding good numbers of reds and assorted rockfish, but there are also some bass biting along with a chance at some bonito action or scratching out a halibut. Yellowtail and white seabass fishing has been slow.

Anglers need to keep in mind that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure for boats fishing waters on the United States side of the Mexico border goes into effect on New Year’s Day.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and rockfish 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. The best bonito zone over the weekend was while fishing in about 90 feet of water a short way above the Mexico border outside of Imperial Beach. Boats fishing for reds and rockfish off Box Canyon have also been finding occasional bonito action incidental to fishing for the reds and rockfish.

On Saturday, there was a private boater who found good fishing for 6- to 10-pound bonito while fishing a short way above the Mexico border off Imperial Beach. At the time of his report he had caught seven of the large bonito and was still fishing. He was hooking up on trolled Rapalas.

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 next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck located outside of Mission Beach and while fishing in San Diego Bay.


WISH YOU WERE HERE? — Don’t we all, as William Ting and buddy Kenny Wagner stopped on a local paddy just 10 miles out of Dana Point and scored 15 yellowtail and a 48.5-pound bluefin on Ting’s boat Wish You Were Here just hours before WON went to press for this issue.

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