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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Pelagics still being metered, spotted when weather allows

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Feb 04, 2020

Southern California anglers continue to get fishable weather this winter, but there are also days with strong winds and high seas that cause most private boats to remain tied to the docks.

There has been an area out at the Ridge between 32 and 50 miles from Point Loma where commercial drift net boats have been catching a mix of bluefin tuna, thresher sharks, swordfish and mako sharks, and there have also been some yellowtail seen around kelp paddies. The drift net boats set their nets to fish in the dark, but they would look around during the day and captains are spotting bluefin meter marks and report yellowtail holding around paddies.


rockfishclosureROCKFISH CLOSURE TACO RUNS — Followers of the San Diego-based Small Boat Club have been getting it done south of the border. PHOTO COURTESY instagram.com/smallboatclub/


Few sportfishing anglers have gone out to the Ridge to target these fish with sportfishing gear, but there were reports by those commercial captains finding a bluefin mark during daylight hours and hooking them on Flat-Fall jigs and the occasional yellowtail on iron.


These fish were found in the region of the 138 Spot on up to the area above the end of the Ridge above the 181 between 38 and 50 miles from Point Loma. Most of the bluefin were 60- to 90-pound class. The last reports heading into the weekend were the numbers of bluefin, threshers, swordfish, makos and yellowtail in the area had declined but there were still some fish in the area. A key water temperature range has been 61.3 to 61.8 degrees.


Sportboats continue to fish Punta Colonet on 1.5-day trips, and the high spot area outside of Colonet continues to produce very good mixed-bag fishing for an assortment of rockfish, along with lingcod, whitefish, bonito and yellowtail. Some good news from Punta Colonet was the numbers of biting yellowtail had improved over the last week.


As an example of the fishing on Saturday, the Vagabond out of Point Loma Sportfishing fished a 1.5-day trip and had 26 anglers catch 12 lingcod, 90 reds, 96 rockfish and 35 yellowtail. Fisherman’s Landing had both the Tomahawk and the Pacific Queen fishing 1.5-day trips, and the Pacific Queen had 33 anglers catch 150 rockfish, 120 reds, 23 yellowtail and 11 lingcod. The Tomahawk had 13 anglers catch 65 rockfish 19 lingcod (to 35 pounds) and 6 bonito.


The yellowtail being caught on the Punta Colonet trips have been going up into the 20-plus-pound class. Yo-yo iron is usually the best way to go once yellowtail are located and a sardine or mackerel fished on a dropper loop can also be effective.


Boats fishing for reds and rockfish in the region of the Coronado Islands continue to do very well and have also been catching an occasional bonus lingcod. Productive areas include hard bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. Also productive has been the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank on the Mexico side of the border in the 60 to 80 fathom depths. Another productive rockfish zone around the Coronados has been spots along the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 20- to 40-fathom depths.


The New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has been running daily three-quarter day trips to target the bottom fishing around the Coronado Islands. Their most recent trip was on Saturday when they had 28 anglers catch 187 assorted rockfish and 41 whitefish.


An ongoing reminder to anglers is the annual 2-month rockfish closure went into effect on Jan. 1 and the closure will remain in effect until March 1. With the rockfish closure currently in effect, Southern California anglers fishing in U.S. waters continue to focus their efforts on species that are still open to fishing, and there has been good action for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin along with an occasional bonus halibut and an occasional flurry of yellowtail action.


The showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast remain unpredictable. The most recent showings of forkies have been in an area ranging from outside of Mission Bay on up to Torrey Pines with the area off Mission Bay, below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla and the area outside of Del Mar standing out. A good depth for these yellowtail has been in 18 to 30 fathoms.


Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom areas to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #5 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp while fishing below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.


There have been a few halibut biting out in 30 fathoms of water outside of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach and in the area of the sunken NEL Tower outside of Mission Beach. There have also been reports of halibut biting in San Diego Bay.


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