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Private Boaters

Private Boater’s Report:Tuna volume staggering but keyed on small bait

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Jul 09, 2019

The past week of offshore fishing saw epic numbers of bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna showing in local offshore waters. It was often very frustrating for anglers and skippers as it was often difficult to get the fish to come off the natural feed of tiny anchovies they were keyed in on. There were some biting fish to be found and good catches made.

There is a huge volume of fish around at some of the offshore banks between 10 and 50 miles from Point Loma. There are enough fish being seen to provide some incredible fishing when they change their habits and start biting better. Hot areas over the July 4 weekend were around 43 Fathom Spot, the Corner, the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot, the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot, the area between the 9 Mile Bank and the Kidney Bank (where the 224 Spot and 302 Spot are located), the 371 Bank, the 425 Bank and the area below the 475 Knuckle. The zone ranging from 4 to 8 miles northeast over to southeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island also provided some action, but for the most part, there were not as many fish showing in this zone.


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TUNA TAXI — San Diego anglers Kevin Norling (gaff shot), George Pericano and Chuck Teems recently piled up limits of bluefin by 10:45 a.m thanks in large part to Yo-Zuri’s Bull Pop. They were fishing aboard Tuna Taxi II.

The bluefin tuna are running from 40- to 250-plus pounds and the yellowfin have been in the 8- to 30-pound range. Kelp paddy yellowtail have been mostly 10- to 18-pound fish, and there have been a few 8- to 12-pound dorado in the mix. The key to getting the tuna to bite over the weekend was casting poppers on breaking fish before they would sound. Anglers also reported similar results while casting stick baits, Coltsnipers and surface iron to the breaking fish, but poppers were working the best.


Floyd Sparks of the Tuna Kahuna fished on Sunday and reported very good fishing as the three aboard caught limits of yellowfin tuna and two of the 85- to 90-pound bluefin tuna. He said all their fish were caught on poppers, and they were getting bit on a variety of colors and the red head with a white body was working best.


Sparks said that teamwork and timing were very important in getting the fish to bite. It sounded to me like they had the teamwork down to an art form with Sparks being at the helm and with an angler on the bow and at the stern ready to cast the popper. He said there was just a quick moment when the fish would bite, and after that, they would sound. Sparks reported finding this hot action inside of the Corner at 28 miles 247 degrees from Point Loma.


Robert Serdoz of the Lucky Charm fished a solo tuna trip in the area between the 224 Spot and the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot and caught a yellowfin and a paddy yellowtail. Serdoz reported seeing many spots of breaking bluefin and yellowfin that did not want to bite. He reported catching his tuna on a popper, and he had 4 other brief tuna hookups that did not last very long before the hook pulled. Serdoz said there was a lot of action in chasing around spots of breaking fish, and his central area of activity was out about 24 miles, 240 degrees from Point Loma.


There are a few marlin around with a report from a reliable source of one or two marlin having being caught and released over the past couple of weeks. On Saturday, Captain Bob Woodard Jr. of the Dropback reported hooking a marlin at the 302 at the Kidney Bank while baiting some puddling tuna under a spot of working birds. Woodard had the fish hooked on straight 30-pound with a circle hook with no leader, and he said he backed off on the drag while the fish was jumping to try and avoid being broken off by the fish’s bill. He said it was a very small marlin around 60 pounds, and he thought they might have a chance, but unfortunately the fish was lost after a six-minute fight.


The Kidney Bank sounds like a good area for marlin as Tom Golding of the Last Buck reported seeing a tailer near the 224 Spot. Another zone where there has been some activity is 4 to 8 miles east to northeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island.


The Coronado Islands have not been fished much lately with most skippers choosing to fish offshore for tuna. The best zone for surface fishing has been the South Kelp and South Kelp Ridge. Other productive areas for surface fishing around the Coronados have been the Rockpile, the Ribbon Kelp, the north end of South Island, the Middle Grounds and Pukey Point. There was also a recent report of spots of breaking bluefin tuna being seen along the 100-fathom curve outside of the Rockpile.


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


The best zone for barracuda has been in the area of the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma and along the edges of the Point Loma Kelp Beds. The Point Loma Kelp Beds have also been producing some surface calico bass. The yellowtail fishing along the coast has been slow, but La Jolla has been the best zone to try and scratch out a forkie with occasional small spots of fish seen under working birds outside of the upper end of La Jolla.


In addition to the Point Loma Kelp Beds, calico bass have also been active and biting in several other areas along the San Diego County coast that include the upper and the upper middle part of La Jolla and the kelp beds by the Barn and San Onofre.


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.


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