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Private Boater’s Report: Big bluefin swarming areas off San Clemente Island

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Aug 06, 2019

The past week offshore saw a continuation of what has been a pretty good bite on bigger bluefin tuna out by San Clemente Island with some fish being caught over 300-pound mark. There have been bluefin biting in spots ranging from 3 to 8 miles east-northeast of Pyramid Head on over to the area above the 86 Fathom Spot above and outside of China Point. There was also some action on fish to 150 pounds in the SCI region both above and inside of the Mackerel Bank and in the area of the 289 Spot. Some of the top private boat reports from San Clemente Island involved multiple hook-ups over the course of a day of targeting jumbo bluefin.


The bluefin have ranged in size from 20 to 300-plus pounds with the best area ranging from fishing 3 to 8 miles south-southeast of Pyramid Head over to the area above the 86 Fathom Spot outside of China Point. Once located, they have been biting well on kite-trolled Yummy Flyers and flying fish. Also effective have been sardines and mackerel with balloons. Poppers have also been working when cast to breaking bluefin and yellowfin.

There have been a few yellowfin biting in areas like the 224 Spot, the 289 Spot and the Mackerel Bank. There was also a report on Sunday of spots of breaking yellowfin in the region of the 209. There have been a few dorado reported to be found under kelp paddies in the region of the 209 Spot which sounds like an area to keep an eye on. The yellowfin have been running from 12 to 30 pounds and have been biting on poppers, stick baits, sardines, and trolled cedar plugs and Rapalas.

Boats fishing kelp paddies at offshore banks below and outside of Ensenada have been doing well on what have been mostly 8- to 17-pound yellowtail and fair numbers of dorado. These fish have on kelp paddies in the region of the 295 Bank, the 450 Spot and the 1140 Finger. In addition to yellows, there have been improving numbers of dorado found around some of the kelps in these areas as well.

Striped marlin have also been providing some action but not many boats are fishing for them with the big bluefin around. Those targeting marlin have been finding some at Catalina Island 1 to 4 miles off the Island from Long Point on around the east end of the Island over to Church Rock. Within that zone, the best area has been 1 to 4 miles off the Island between Avalon and the Slide. The Avalon Bank saw a bit of marlin activity over the past weekend as well. 

THIS 43.6-POUND WHITE SEABASS was caught by kayak angler Bill Gehring who entered the fish into the WON Big Fish Challenge. For more info and to get involved, visit

There have been occasional blind jig strikes from marlin and occasional sleepers, tailers and feeders as well. My estimate is that there were 1 or 2 marlin caught and released from the Catalina area over the weekend.

The yellowtail fishing at the Coronado Islands is just fair, but there is a nice mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish biting to supplement the action. The best areas for forkies are the weather side of North Island and the Middle Grounds, and slow trolling with sardines has been working best. Areas that have been providing more of a mixed bag catch of surface species have been the Ribbon Kelp, the 5 Minute Kelp and the South Kelp.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, reds, rockfish and sculpin, and there has also been a chance at finding a flurry of barracuda action along with a bonus yellowtail, lingcod or halibut.

Calico bass continue to provide most of the surface fishing action with kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast producing action. Some of the more productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Del Mar and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon.

The places that have been providing barracuda action include Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 off Point Loma and along the edges of the Point Loma Kelp Beds. The best zones for yellowtail has been at the upper end of La Jolla and fishing outside of the kelp beds while outside of the Lab and the Green Tank at Point Loma.

Hard bottom and structure spots have been producing some bass and sculpin with productive places being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom spots between the Imperial Beach Pipeline and the Mexico border, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

Rockfish are still a significant part of the coastal fishing picture with recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.

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