Private Boaters Report

Private Boater’s Report: Yellowfin enter the offshore stage

Bluefin zone growing

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Jun 11, 2019

The past week of fishing brought some significant changes to the offshore scene with yellowfin tuna becoming a new part of the picture to go with bluefin and yellowtail. What also developed during the week was tuna were being caught over a larger area at spots ranging from the 224 Spot and the Corner on down to the waters below the Lower 500 Bank out westerly from Punta Colonet.

The bluefin tuna ranged in size from 20 to 200-plus pounds with most falling within the 40- to 80-pound range. There is currently a zone to better target the jumbo bluefin, and that’s the area of the 224 Spot and the Corner for boats fishing from 20 to 30 miles, 235 to 255 degrees from Point Loma.

Other areas where the mixed-sized bluefin have been biting best in recent days have been in the region of the 385 Spot located 56 miles, 166 degrees from Point Loma as well as in the region below the Lower 500 Bank, around 95 miles,. 163 degrees from Point Loma.

Once located, bluefin have been biting on sardines fly-lined, kite fished, or with torpedo sinkers and Flat-Fall jigs are also getting fish.

Marcus Hale of the Cabrilla was headed on down to the 385 Spot on Saturday morning when he found some activity in the area of the Upper Hidden Bank and caught a 35 pounder at 34 miles, 185 degrees from Point Loma. Hale kept heading toward the 385 Spot and found another area where there were spots of breaking bluefin several miles below the Upper Hidden Bank at 43 miles, 181 degrees from Point Loma. He worked those spots but could not get them to bite. Hale did find some yellowtail under kelp paddies in this area and caught 3 to go with the bluefin. On the way home, Hale stopped at the Middle Grounds at the Coronado Islands and finished off the day by tacking on a 20-pound forkie.

Yellowfin tuna have entered the picture and have been caught at spots such as the 371 Bank, Upper Hidden Bank, 385 Spot and the area below the Lower 500 Bank. These fish have ranged in size from 15 to 50 pounds and have been caught from blind trolling strikes, spots of breaking fish, sonar marks, meter marks, spots of breezing fish and porpoise schools.

Jeff Meeker of the Doghouse fished the area to the west and northwest of the Upper Hidden Bank. He saw a spot of breezer tuna at 11 a.m and had the fish respond to the chum but could not get them to bite. At 4 p.m, he returned to the area and got a double trolling strike resulting in two 20- to 25-pound ahi. They ended up with three more yellowfin on the troll after working to the inside of where they had seen the breezer to end up with 5 for the day. This was found between 32 and 37 miles, 187 to 194 degrees from Point Loma. All their yellowfin were caught on trolled Rapalas.

At the Coronado Islands, surface fishing has been improving for a mix of yellowtail, bonito and calico bass, and the fishing for rockfish remains excellent. A productive zone for the rockfish has been at hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 35 to 50 fathoms of water. Another good zone the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in 25 to 40 fathoms.

The best bets for yellowtail have been at the Middle Grounds in 100 feet of water along the ridge that runs from the area outside of the Middle Grounds on down to the area about half way down the back side of South Island.

Mike Seymour of the Sea Section fished at the Coronados on Thursday and scored limits of assorted rockfish and 5 yellowtail. He found the good bottomfish action at hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island. He said their catch of assorted bottomfish were quality fish ranging from 3 to 8 pounds including lingcod.

After limiting on the assorted rockfish, Seymour found yellowtail biting on trolled X-Rap Rapalas in 100 feet of water along the ridge running from the area outside of the Middle Grounds on down to about half way down the back side of South Island. Seymour said they caught 4 of their 5 yellows on the pink color X-Rap and they were 12- to 15-pound fish. The yellows were also responding to sardines, as Seymour said a sportboat came through the area, stopped on a sonar mark, started chumming and catching yellows as well.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with an occasional bonus halibut or lingcod. The weekend also saw improved yellowtail activity at the upper end of La Jolla with the Sunday afternoon half-day on the New Seaforth picking off 10 yellows.

A good depth range has been in 10 to 18 fathoms. Once located, try fly-lined sardines, ‘dines on a dropper loop, surface or yo-yo iron or slow-trolled sardines or mackerel. The afternoons have been best for the yellowtail, and on Sunday afternoon, several private boaters reported catching a yellow while drifting with sardines.

Another sign of improving surface fishing along the coast is calico bass becoming more active in the Point Loma Kelp Beds. The key to finding a good calico bass bite has been to look areas with the cleanest and warmest water. In recent days, the best conditions have been found at the kelp beds between Point Loma College and the Round House at Sunset Cliffs.

Productive rockfish areas off the San Diego County coast include the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard-bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.

Hard-bottom and structure areas have been producing bass and sculpin with productive spots including the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard-bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, 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, and the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside.

The fishing at San Clemente Island has been good for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, barracuda, calico bass and an occasional white seabass. There has been squid to catch for bait at night off Pyramid Cove, and the that area has also produced an occasional white seabass and some of the larger 20- to 30-pound yellowtail. Also look for those larger yellows at the ridge areas outside of Pyramid Cove. The front side of the Island has been producing a mix of yellowtail, bonito, calico bass and barracuda between Gold Bluff and White Rock and the Runway, and West Cove areas have also been producing some yellowt on the back side of the western part of the Island. Sardines, live squid, surface and yo-yo iron have been working for yellowtail.

Catalina continues to see improved surface fishing for a mix of yellowtail, bonito, calico bass and a few white seabass.

Productive areas are spread around much of the Island with the areas of Ben Weston, Salta Verde, Orange Rocks, the V's and Church Rock providing some action along the back side of the Island and with legal waters at the point and reef areas between Hen Rock and Black Point providing some action along the front side of the Island.

There has been a bit of squid to catch for bait at night off Ben Weston at Catalina but the best squid fishing has been at Pyramid Cove at San Clemente Island with the squid boats often making a catch of squid at Pyramid Cove and then bringing it over to Catalina to sell to private boaters. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 11 or 72.

CODY YORK OF Escondido caught this 55-pound white seabass “straight out from Children’s Beach in the stringers.” He was slow-trolling a spanish mackerel from his kayak, and the battle took 20 minutes on 30-pound line.

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