Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: More bluefin sightings to the south

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Mar 03, 2020

Yellows pop at Coronados and SoCal rockfish open for business

Significant developments which can be interpreted as early signs of the spring fishing season continue to pop up offshore. While spring does not actually arrive until March 19, anglers are already finding some of that type of fishing.

There are occasional bluefin sightings off the coast with the past week seeing some activity in the San Diego region inside of the 224 Spot and out to the southwest of South Island. Not much was been caught, but there have been bluefin biting for sportboats fishing on 1.5- and 2-day trips to the Punta Colonet area down the Mexican coast. Some of those trips have been spending part of the time fishing the high spot area for reds, rockfish, lingcod and yellowtail and spending the remainder of the day looking around offshore for tuna.

The Tomahawk out of Fisher­man’s Landing was on a 1.5-day trip with 19 anglers who caught 13 bluefin, limits of rockfish and 8 lingcod to 22 pounds. The Pacific Queen had 33 anglers on a 1.5-day trip that caught 240 rockfish, 60 reds and 8 lingcod. The bluefin caught on recent Punta Colonet area trips have ranged to 120-plus pounds, and those caught on the Tomahawk on Saturday were reported to be in the 70- to 90-pound class.

Another early sign of spring is the yellowtail action at the Coronado Islands. On Thursday, the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing fished a full-day trip and had 14 anglers catch 63 yellowtail, 10 reds and 1 bonito. The bite slowed on Friday but picked up again on Saturday when the San Diego ran a full-day with 48 anglers who caught 88 reds, 35 rockfish, 19 yellowtail and 1 halibut. Saturday’s fishing also saw the Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing fish a full-day trip with 25 anglers who caught 40 rockfish, 20 bonito and 9 yellowtail.

Captain Bob Fletcher of the Fletch fished aboard the San Diego on Thursday when they made the catch that included 63 yellowtail. He called it an excellent day of fishing in nice weather and said that the yellows were being caught on sonar marks and that most were biting on yo-yo iron fished near the bottom. Most of them were 14 to 18 pounds.

Fletcher said it usually did not take long to find another school of fish to stop on and the yellowtail were often responding to the chummed sardines and would come up and boil around the boat.

The Rockpile area has been best for the yellowtail while fishing the area of the Rockpile proper and while working to the southwest, south and southeast of the Rockpile.

There was more yellowtail action in the waters around the Coronado Islands as on Satur­day there were some private boaters that got into some action on the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and fishing a kelp found below the Coronado Canyon. The boats fishing the lower end of the 9 were hooking up on trolled Rapalas, and the fish on that paddy were biting on sardines.

The rest of the fishing around the Coronados has been good for an assortment of reds, rockfish, an occasional lingcod and a few bonito. Productive areas for the bottom fishing include hard-bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. Also productive has been fishing the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank on the Mexico side of the border in the 60 to 80 fathom depths. More rockfish are being found around the Coronado Islands along the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 20 to 40 fathom depths.

Rockfish season is now open in SoCal waters. Anglers have been anxious to give it a try after 2-month closure, but many stayed home due to the weather conditions with a system passing through and a Small Craft Advisory posted. There were some sportboats out giving it a try and they did find some biters.

The Dolphin out of Fish­erman’s Landing fished a morning half-day trip with 40 anglers who caught 148 rockfish, 8 sculpin, 2 sand bass, 2 sheephead and 1 calico bass. The Premier out of H&M Landing fished two half-day trips with 77 anglers who caught 410 whitefish, 136 rockfish, 7 sculpin, 1 sand bass and 1 sheephead. The rest of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin along with an occasional bonus halibut or yellowtail.

There have been occasional showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast, but they remain inconsistent and unpredictable as to where and when. A common thread is the schools of yellowtail are usually found in areas where there is a lot of bait. The two areas where the yellows have had a tendency to show in recent weeks have been in the region of the Imperial Beach Pipeline, and in an area ranging from outside of Mission Bay on up to the lower part of the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla. A good depth range to try and locate yellowtail has been in 18 to 30 fathoms of water.

The yellowtail along the coast have been mostly 18- to 25-pound fish, and they have been located by under sonar marks, meter marks and on the surface under spots of diving birds. Once located, yo-yo iron, surface iron, mackerel and sardines have all been working for yellowtail. A surface iron that is cast to a spot of breaking fish before they sound has been working the best.

Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom 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 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.

Areas producing occasional halibut along the San Diego County coast are the sandy bottom adjacent to the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, in 180 to 220 feet of water outside of the Oceanside Pier, areas adjacent to the structure of the Yukon shipwreck and next to the sunken NEL Tower off Mission Beach, and the area between the Imperial Beach Pier and the Tijuana River. San Diego Bay is another place where some biting halibut have been found.

SAN DIEGO FLOAT tuber Scott Reyes with a respectable float-tube flattie out of Mission Bay.

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