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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Dorado and marlin trickle into offshore picture

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Jun 25, 2019

The past week of fishing saw improved offshore action with bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail biting. Some additional exotics can now be added to the list of offshore species in local waters with a couple of striped marlin being seen and with the Relentless out of H&M Landing posting a catch that included six dorado on an overnight trip that was fishing on Saturday.

There are lots of bluefin tuna around, and there have been many spots of breaking bluefin showing in an area ranging from the region of the 230 Spot located outside of the 302 Spot on down to the area of the Upper Hidden Bank. Over the weekend, most boats were fishing an area spread from 30 to 40 miles 192 to 224 degrees from Point Loma.

The bluefin have ranged in size from 20- to 200-plus pounds with most falling within the 60- to 90-pound range. Bluefin schools have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks, kelp paddies and spots of breaking, breezing, foaming or puddling fish. Yellowfin tuna have ranged in size from 12 to 50 pounds with most falling within the 15- to 25-pound range. Kelp paddies have been producing the yellowtail and dorado. Most of the yellowtail have been nicer sized 12- to 15-pound fish.

Once located, bluefin have been biting on fly-lined sardines, kite-fished sardines, ’dines fished with torpedo sinkers, poppers, surface iron and Flat-Fall jigs. If you have room for all the tackle, it works out well to carry live bait outfits with fluorocarbon leaders ranging from 30-pound-test to 100-pound-test to be able to adjust your tackle selection based on how aggressive the bluefin are and how big the fish happen to be in the school of fish you are working. A 25-pound-test outfit is always handy for kelp-paddy yellowtail, dorado and yellow­fin tuna.

Bill Parker of the Cabo fished on Friday and reported finding good kelp paddy yellowtail action between the 425 Bank and the Upper Hidden Bank. Parker reported the three anglers aboard caught 9 of the 12- to 15-pound yellowtail while working from 183 to 187 degrees, 25 to 39 miles from Point Loma. Once he got to the Upper Hidden Bank, Parker started seeing lots of spots of breaking bluefin, and they worked one spot of breaking bluefin after the next and could not get them to bite their baits and lures. The best showing of bluefin was on the outside edges of the outer high spot at the Upper Hidden Bank located at 38 miles,189 degrees from Point Loma.

Captain Maurice Smith of the Dos Hermanos reported fishing at the Upper Hidden Bank area on Saturday, and he reported seeing lots of spots of breaking bluefin and yellowfin but said the fish were not very interested. They tried a wide variety of baits and lures and were able to hook one bluefin that bit on a fly-lined mackerel. Unfor­tunately, the circle hook pulled out during the fight and the fish was lost.

Smith passed along a report that a marlin was baited by a boat in the tuna fleet at the Upper Hidden Bank on Saturday. Another report of a marlin sighting was the next day on Sunday when a jumper was reported to be seen in around the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank by a boat returning to Point Loma from the tuna grounds.

On Sunday, Floyd Sparks of the Tuna Kahuna fished with his 15-year-old son Dillon and his 16-year-old friend Nate aboard, and he reported having an epic day of bluefin tuna fishing. Sparks went to an area outside of the 230 Spot where there was not much boat traffic and where there had been some good numbers of bluefin reported to be showing on Saturday.

That move paid off in a big way as they found an area with lots of bluefin and were able to catch their limits of 80- to 90-pound bluefin. Sparks said the bluefin were puddling around on the surface early in the day, and the bluefin became more active as the day progressed and started showing in the way of spots of foaming fish after 2 p.m. He said at one time, he was looking at six spots of foaming bluefin at once.

Sparks said they caught one bluefin on a double-trouble-kite-fished live sardine, another on a drifted mackerel and the other 4 on poppers and surface iron. He said two of the bluefin bit on poppers that were laying still on the surface. Sparks also described an awesome foamer spot of bluefin where they ended up chasing the bait they were feeding on under their boat. He said that there were bluefin bouncing off the hull as they were chasing the bait around. This incredible scene went down off the 230 Spot while between 30 miles, 222 degrees from Point Loma and 31 miles, 224 degrees from Point Loma.

Some news about albacore possibilities include intel the Western Fishboat Owners Association posted suggesting the water off Oregon was cooler than normal at 59 degrees, and the albacore fishing in the area was scratchy with a couple of boats picking up 5 and 7 while passing through the area. I also got a report from a professional Captain that a commercial boat returning home from mid-Pacific waters picked up 40 albacore on the troll approximately 600 miles southwest of Point Loma at a similar latitude to Guadalupe Island. These things give some reason to be hopeful that we might see a more southerly run of albacore this year compared to what we have seen in recent years.

The surface fishing at the Coronado Islands has been producing a pretty good mix of yellow­tail, barracuda, bonito and calico bass. In addition to the surface fishing activity, there has also been very good fishing for an assortment of reds, rockfish and whitefish along with an occasional lingcod.

Productive areas for the surface fishing have been the weather side of North Island, the area into the east of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the area inside of the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. Of all those areas, the Middle Grounds seems to be most consistent for surface fishing. A couple of additional spots that have been producing calico bass are the boiler rocks at the Middle Grounds and at the north end of South Island.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, barracuda, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with an occasional bonus halibut or lingcod. The yellowtail fishing along the San Diego County coast remains scratchy.

The best zone for barracuda has been in the area of the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma and along the edges of the kelp off the Point Loma Lighthouse and the Dropoff (located a short way above the Point Loma Lighthouse).

Calico bass have been active and biting in several kelp bed areas. Boats fishing the Point Loma Kelp Beds have been finding some calicos biting at the kelp off the Lighthouse, at the Dropoff and along the kelp beds between the Green Tank 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.

The fishing at San Clemente Island has seen a good mix of yellowtail, calico bass, barra­cuda and assorted bottom fish. The yellowtail bite continues to be up and down.

There has been squid around San Clemente Island, and Pyramid Cove has been an area that has produced squid for bait at night and also an occasional white seabass and yellowtail. Try for seabass and yellowtail at the squid area in Pyramid Cove and some yellowtail have also been biting along the ridges outside of Pyramid Cove in the 18 to 25 fathom depths. The front side of the Island has also seen some yellowtail, calico bass and a few barracuda biting at spots between Purse Seine Rock and Gold Bluff.

Catalina Island has been producing some mixed-bag surface fishing for a mix of calico bass and barracuda along with flurries of yellowtail action and an occasional white seabass. The best areas have been along the back side of the Island off Little Harbor, Orange Rocks, Salta Verde, The V’s and Church Rock. Spots along much of the front side of the Island have also been producing some surface fishing action while fishing legal waters ranging from the Rock Quarry on up to Black Point. Spots along the front side of the middle part of the Island have been the best in recent days.

There has been a bit of squid to catch for bait at night off Ben Weston, but most of the squid boats are currently fishing for squid at Pyramid Cove at San Clemente Island. Once they catch squid at night, some of the squid boats have been running over to Catalina Island to offer it for sale to private boaters. Try to raise squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.

FIRST FLATTIE — Young Jonny Anderson caught his first legal halibut on San Diego Bay while fishing with his dad Jon on Father’s Day. Jonny is the brother of Noah, who graced last issue’s cover with a 70-pound bluefin. This is quite the fishing family!

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