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Private Boaters Report

Private Boater's Report: Crickets offshore with most boats tied to dock due to foul weather

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Feb 05, 2019

Most of the recent fishing news continues to be dominated by bad weather as much of the past week was taken up by a series of storms moving through Southern California. One system resulted in gale warnings being posted on Saturday. Bad weather can be serious business and it’s very important that anglers and skippers should always check the latest marine weather forecast before heading out.

A SOLID CALICO on the swimbait for Ryan McDonald fishing an Orange County hard bottom spot last week.

There have not been any reports from offshore waters since the bluefin and yellowtail bites dropped off the weekend of Jan. 26. At last word, there was still some bluefin activity on the Ridge between the 181 Spot and the 182 Spot, and there was good yellowtail action on kelp paddies near the Upper Hidden Bank below and outside of the Coronado Islands. There has been a lot of bad weather since those reports that included high seas and strong winds, and that has likely taken its toll on water conditions offshore. Maybe someone will look around to try and locate some bluefin tuna or kelp-paddy yellow­tail, but for the time being there is nothing recent to report.

The last reports from the Coronado Islands showed very good mixed-bag fishing for reds, rockfish, bonito and a few yellow­tail, but none of my contacts has been fishing the Coronados in recent days due to the bad weather.

Good areas for rockfish have been at the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 40 fathoms and at the hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 35 to 50 fathoms of water. The best area surface fishing has been along the weather side of North Island.

The Premier out of H&M Landing has been running weekday half-day trips into Mexican waters that usually target rockfish. These trips tend to hit the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island. They have been able to get occasional trips in during the week between weather systems.

Sportboats have been running 1.5-day trips to fish Punta Colonet, and they have been finding a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod, whitefish and an assortment of rockfish. Most of these trips have been on the weekends, and this past weekend was pretty much a no-go with gale warnings posted. Best bet for the yellowtail has been to try and find meter marks or spots of working birds to stop on. Once located, try yo-yo iron or sardines fished on a dropper-loop rig with the heavy Salas 6X and Salas 7X sized jigs in scrambled egg being reported to be working best.

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. The end of the closure is in sight, but 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 the closure comes to an end on March 1.

Boats fishing coastal trips were able to do some fishing in decent weather between systems, and the fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to provide a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin as well as a few halibut. There is occasional yellowtail activity reported but not much has been biting when the schools decide to show in force. The areas were sporadic activity has been at the upper end of La Jolla, the lower end of La Jolla and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma. There has also been a very occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for bass and sculpin.

Hard-bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive spots being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

The last report from Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing was that the Oceanside Sea Center boats have done well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area. In they have also been finding unseasonably-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 and while fishing the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines.

Fishing with strips of fresh frozen squid has been working well for the bass and sculpin. One of the best techniques has been fishing the squid strip on a bare leadhead. He says it sometimes helps to fish a sliding sinker above the jig head.

There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive areas include the sandy bottoms near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, off South Ponto Beach, next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, 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.

THIS PAIR OF Oceanside flatfish came out water over 120 feet deep. OCEANSIDE SEA CENTER PHOTO

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