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Private Boaters

Private boaters still sneaking out during decent-weather windows

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Feb 19, 2019

The report for the past week of fishing is mostly a simple one centered around periods of high seas, wind and rain. There were a few breaks in the weather between storm fronts where some boats were able to get out, but the week of fishing was dominated by the bad weather. In looking at the current 10-day forecast, there are only three days that show more than a 10 percent chance of rain, so maybe we are looking at improving ocean conditions which could allow private boaters back out on the water. An ongoing reminder — always check the latest marine weather forecast before going boating or fishing.

There is no recent word of bluefin tuna or kelp-paddy yellow­tail from offshore waters other than a report from early last week from a Skipper who was whale watching about 2.5 miles off the coast of South Carlsbad and reported seeing what he thought were some good-sized breaking tuna under spots of working birds. There is still some 60-degree water in that zone, so it is certainly possible there might be some bluefin around. The water at some of the offshore banks below and outside of Ensenada is the warmest at up to 62 degrees.

The bad weather kept sportboats from running their Saturday 1.5-day trips down the Mexican coast to fish off of Punta Colonet. Recent trips prior to the weather have seen good fishing for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod and rockfish.

The last trips to fish Punta Colonet that I know of were back on Feb. 9, when the Old Glory out of H&M Landing had 24 anglers catch 120 reds, 79 rockfish, 29 bonito, 7 yellowtail and 2 lingcod.

Seaforth Sportfishing had the Tomahawk fish a 1.5-day trip with 25 anglers who caught 90 rockfish, 70 reds, 50 bonito, 24 whitefish, 7 lingcod, 5 yellowtail and 4 sheephead.

Seaforth Sportfishing also had the Tribute fishing a 1.5-day trip with 26 anglers who caught 130 rockfish, 100 reds, 12 yellow­tail, 11 whitefish and 7 bonito.

Fisherman’s Landing had the Pacific Queen fishing a 1.5-day trip with 34 anglers who caught 58 yellowtail, 110 reds, 2 lingcod and 150 rockfish.

The Relentless out of H&M Landing fished a weekend 2-day trip on Feb. 9 and 10 and had 16 anglers catch 160 reds, 150 rockfish, 5 lingcod, 1 yellowtail and 1 sheephead.

The last report from the Coronado Islands was when the Malihini out of H&M Landing fished the Coronados on Feb. 11.

Captain Bill Wilkerson of the Malihini reported finding very good fishing for a mix of reds, lingcod, whitefish, sheephead and an assortment of rockfish. The surface fishing was scratchy but they did have a single bonito within their catch. The fish count on the Malihini was 25 anglers on a full day trip catching 125 reds, 75 rockfish, 44 whitefish, 3 sculpin, 2 sheephead and 1 bonito.

Good areas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 35 to 50 fathoms. The best area for a shot at surface action has been while 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. On these trips, they tend to fish the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard bottom to the north and northwest of North Island. Their last trip targeting rockfish was Feb. 15 when they had 23 anglers on a half-day trip catch an assortment of 229 rockfish and 1 sheephead.

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 less than two weeks away, but anglers seeking to fish for the rockfish/groundfish species that are covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters until the closure comes to an end on March 1.

Boats fishing coastal trips have been able to get out in decent weather between the storms, 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 has not been much to report in the way of yellowtail activity lately, but the areas where sporadic activity has been reported in recent weeks have been at the upper end of La Jolla, the lower end of La Jolla and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive zones 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 area 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.

This Monday morning, some half-day boats out of San Diego Bay fished down at the Imperial Beach Pipeline. The report was the bite has been pretty good with a mix of calico bass, sand bass, sculpin and perch biting.

Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sport­fishing and the Oceanside Sea Center last reported that they had been finding good fishing in a few different areas.

Cacciola reported Oceanside Sea Center boats have done well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area, but what he said is often better is the unseasonably-good mixed-bag fishing for sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, perch and an occasional halibut, or white seabass they have been finding at 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. Cacciola said it sometimes helps to fish a sliding sinker above the leadhead.

There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive halibut 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. Of all these listed areas, one of the most productive halibut bite areas has been outside of the Imperial Beach Pier in 30 to 40 feet of water.

The weather so bad this past weekend, Small Craft Advisories were posted from Friday evening though Monday evening. The popular event of the 23rd Annual San Diego Anglers Bay Bass Tournament which was scheduled for Saturday to be cancelled due to the bad weather.

menifeeanglerMENIFEE ANGLER NOAH BIXLER was prefishing for the Saltwater Bass Series outside of Mission Bay when this 34-pound yellowtail inhaled his surface iron.


MILKIN’ IT — This 50-pound white seabass was caught by Al Vazquez who was using a 3-ounce, mint-colored HookUp Bait filled with Mermaid Milk Fin Bait scent off of Point Loma.

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