Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: San Clemente Island gives up marlin, four bluefin and some yellows to Two Timer

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Aug 08, 2017

Southern California fishing continues to provide anglers with a lot of great options. There were bluefin tuna biting out at San Clemente Island and the Coronado Islands, and there were significant numbers of striped marlin entering the picture for the first time this season as anglers found them in areas ranging from the Catalina Channel to the offshore waters below and outside of the Coronado Islands. Yellowtail, dorado and yellowfin tuna were also a possibility for anglers throughout a vast area of water ranging from the Catalina Channel all the way down to the offshore waters outside of Ensenada.

privateboaterFORMER WON STAFFER and current Daiwa sales rep Ben Babbitt shows what’s left of a 20-pound class yellowtail after a 400-pound mako came up and gave it the business. “Babbalito” is still smiling because it was a trip for the record books aboard the Two Timer that included a pair of marlin hookups (one landed and released) and big bluefin tuna.

Private boater Ben Babbitt reported after his trip aboard the private boat Two Timer where he had a day of fishing that will not soon be forgotten. They started by stopping on a kelp paddy at the 277 Spot off the east end of Catalina while on the way over to San Clemente Island to fish for bluefin tuna. The kelp paddy at the 277 produced a surprise hookup on a striped marlin that bit a sardine fished on an outfit intended for yellowtail or dorado. While hooked up to the marlin, they saw another tailer and were able to bait that fish with a marlin bait caster outfit. The first hookup was eventually lost but they were able to successfully catch and release the second.

After releasing the marlin, they continued over to the back side of San Clemente where it did not take long to get a hookup on a jumbo bluefin tuna on a kite-trolled Yummee Flyer. They boated that bluefin, but did not have much other action until 6 p.m. when Babbitt reported the ocean came alive with spots of foamer bluefin schools. They were biting very well, and they were able to catch three more bluefin on the kite-trolled Yummee Flyers before leaving spots of breaking fish to head for home. Their bluefin were all big fish that ranged in size from 120 to 215 pounds.

As exciting as all the bluefin and marlin action was, Babbitt added the story of an encounter that occurred at a kelp paddy which sounded as spectacular or more spectacular than catching the big bluefin and catching and releasing the striped marlin. Babbitt reports they were fishing a kelp paddy and hooked a 20-pound yellow. While they were fighting the yellowtail, a 400-pound mako shark decided it wanted the yellowtail for a snack, and it chased the forkie to the surface and came out of the water in an explosion of white water as it grabbed the 20-pound yellowtail and ate it.

The bluefin have been showing and biting in the area of Desperation Reef, the 81 Fathom Spot, the 86 Fathom Spot and the 381 Spot. Some of the best action over the weekend was in the area to the west of the 86 Fathom Spot and in an area about half way between the 86 the 381. Kite-trolled Yummee Flyers have been working best for the bluefin but also productive have been drifted mackerel, live squid and yo-yo’d Flat-Fall jigs. Poppers and surface iron would also be effective if you can get them to spots of breaking fish before they sound.

Marlin fishing improved over the weekend, with what I would estimate to be 7 marlin caught and released by boats working the Catalina region. The area between the 152 Spot and the 277 Spot off the east end of the Island was best, but there was also action found off the Slide, at the Avalon Bank, the 14 Mile Bank, the 209 Spot and outside of San Onofre. In the San Diego region there were what I am estimating to be 2 or 3 marlin caught and released by boats fishing the region of the 371 Bank. There were also reports of marlin activity around the 182 Spot, Upper Hidden Bank and Upper 500 Bank.

SoCal guide and Saltwater Bass Series director Gerry Mahieu had similar findings up there, with dorado and yellows on numerous kelps within the 209/277/14 Mile Bank triangle with some scattered yellowfin. He also reported medium-grade yellows and quality calicos at SCI, and over at Catalina, he metered a lot of yellowfin that he couldn’t get to bite.

Private boater Louie on the Parker No Name reported a couple of marlin encounters on Saturday that were incidental to kelp paddie fishing for dorado and yellowtail. He reported hooking and losing a marlin that bit on a sardine with straight 25-pound test that was intended for dorado and yellowtail. That hookup was reported while fishing near the Upper 500 Bank which is located at 54 miles 183 degrees from Point Loma. The second marlin encounter was when one swam around the boat while they were fishing a kelp between the Upper Hidden Bank and the 425 Bank at 32 miles 184 degrees from Point Loma. The fishing for dorado and yellowtail was reported to be excellent at both the kelp paddies and they limited out on both species.

Kelp paddies ranging from the Catalina Channel all the way down to the offshore waters outside of Ensenada provided a chance at finding yellowtail and dorado, and there were a few yellowfin tuna to be found there as well. The waters below and outside of the Coronado Islands were providing the best action over the weekend with limit catches of dorado and yellowtail being reported by boats fishing the region of the 224 Spot, 425 Bank, 230 Spot, 371 Bank, Upper Hidden Bank and Upper 500 Bank.

Private boater, Captain Ron Bowers of the Salt Fever fished a 2-day trip over the weekend and reported catching and releasing an estimated 100 small yellowtail, 100 small dorado and keeping 12 large yellows, 1 yellowfin and a few of the dorado that were up around the 6-pound mark. He said most of the dorado were under 5 pounds and were released. The 12 yellowtail they kept were quality sized fish that were in the 15- to 25-pound range and he said that the yellowtail they were releasing were small 4- to 5-pound fish. They had their good fishing while working the areas of the Upper 500 Bank, Hidden Bank, 371 Bank and 230 Spot.

Private boaters Tony, Tim and Amy on the Inevitable reported fishing kelp paddies in the area of the Upper Hidden Bank and the 425 Bank on Saturday and catching limits of yellowtail and limits of dorado. He said they kept the yellowtail that were over 12 pounds and released the rest with their biggest yellowtail being a 30-pound fish. Also noteworthy was a 30-pound dorado.

The fishing at the Coronado Islands continues to provide good mixed-bag action for bonito, barracuda, calico bass and yellowtail and the big surprise of the week was some good fishing for 12- to 40-pound bluefin.

The bluefin tuna bite area was in the region around the south tip of South Island with the 5 Minute Kelp area being the best. Best bet for the bluefin has been to drift and fish sardines while trying to chum some fish to the boat with sardines.

Productive areas for the bass, bonito, barracuda and yellowtail have been the Middle Grounds, the area inside of the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island, the 5-Minute Kelp inside of the south tip of South Island, the weather side of North Island and Pukey Point at North Island.

Most of the fishing for the bass, bonito, barracuda and yellowtail has been done while drifting on meter marks, drifting on sonar marks or while drifting after getting a trolling strike. Sardines and surface iron have been working well while drifting after fish are located. The yellowtail have been mixed-size fish that have been ranging from 4 to 20 pounds with most in the 5- to 6-pound range.

Private boater Rick DeVoe of the Jaysea reported on fishing at the Coronado Islands and catching 4 bluefin tuna, 4 yellowtail and lots of bonito, barracuda and calico bass. Their yellowtail were caught on sardines while drifting the weather side of North Island and while drifting along the lee side of North Island during the afternoon hours. Their bluefin were caught drifting with sardines at the 5-Minute Kelp area near South Island during the early morning hours. It was a trip with the whole family aboard and Rick’s 15-year-old daughter, Jaysea, posted the catch of the day in catching a 35-pound bluefin tuna, a 15-pound bluefin tuna and a 12-pound yellowtail. Nice going, Jaysea!

Private boater Captain Bob Woodard Jr. of the Dropback reported fishing the Coronados on Saturday with his daughter, Kalaya, who was participating in the Michael Farrior IGFA Junior’s Tournament put on by The Marlin Club. He said they caught and released a bunch of small 2- to 5-pound dorado and yellowtail while fishing kelp paddies found 6 miles from the Coronados on a course to the 425 Bank.

They came back into the Coronados hoping to find some bigger fish, and he said it was all-you-want catch-and-release 6- to 7-pound yellowtail. He noted that they did catch a nicer-sized 10-pound yellowtail while fishing along the weather side of North Island. The yellows were biting very well on trolled Rapalas, sardines, iron after getting a trolling strike.

Woodard was still looking to try and catch Kalaya a big fish for the tournament, so he tried drifting for halibut in the lee of South Island. This proved to be a great move as Kalaya caught a 19.2 pounder was the biggest fish in the tournament.

Private boater Lee Fleming of the Jawbreaker reported fishing the Coronado Islands and catching 20 yellowtail, 4 bonito and 2 bluefin tuna that went to 20 pounds. They caught all their fish between 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., and he said they were done fishing at 9 a.m. Fleming said they lost several bigger fish to the seals as they were using 20-pound fluoro­carbon for the bluefin and could not put enough pressure on the larger fish to get them to the boat before the seals could grab them. They had the hot early morning action while fishing sardines off the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to be very good for calico bass and there have also been occasional flurries of action on bonito, barracuda and yellowtail. Kelp bed areas have been the best for the calicos with the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the La Jolla Kelp beds, the kelp beds between Del Mar and Carlsbad and the kelp at San Onofre all producing good numbers of calico bass. The best areas for the yellowtail have been while fishing the Buoyline at Point Loma and the kelp beds at the upper end of La Jolla.

Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports very good calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Del Mar. There has been a lot of action on short calicos for every keeper sized fish they catch but they continue to have pretty good to sometimes good numbers of keeper sized calicos in their catch. In addition to the calico bass they have been hooking and sometimes catching an occasional yellowtail and a few bonito.

Cacciola reports that the 4- to 5-inch sardines have been working well for the calico bass. Also productive for the calicos have been anchovy color or chartreuse color 3⁄8-ounce Hookup Bait plastics and the sardine color Berkley Gulp 5-inch Jerk Shads that are rigged on a 3⁄8-ounce dart head. Cacciola says that the water has been very warm and green with water temperatures getting up into the middle 70s.

Captain Billy of Bill Fish Sportfishing and the 6 pack charter yacht All Paid, the 6-pack charter yacht Tailblazen and the 4-pack charter boat E Fish N Sea reported about a half-day trip aboard the All Paid on Saturday. He said they started the trip fishing off Imperial Beach where the fishing was slow except for catching two short halibut that were released. Captain Billy came back up to the Whistler Buoy area at Point Loma to try for some rockfish and while drifting they started hooking yellowtail on sardines and iron. They ended up having a good half-day trip in catching six yellowtail that ranged from 6 to 8 pounds.

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