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CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Tuna grounds shifting, but best bites remain close

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Sep 04, 2019

Solid action on bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna continues with boats also running into bonus yellowtail, skipjack and dorado offshore. Some changes have occurred as far as target areas, but there is still a good chance at finding any of these species within 30 miles or so of Point Loma.

The best zones for yellowfin are the 385 Spot outside of Ensenada and at some of the local offshore banks within 30 miles or so of Point Loma such as the 425, 371, 302 Spot and the 224 Spot. These areas are also providing a chance at catching bluefin tuna to 100 pounds along with a mix of yellowtail, skipjack and dorado.


The waters outside of the 9 Mile Bank are still producing a few yellowfin but the bite outside of the 9 has been picking up on 40- to 125-pound bluefin. On Sunday evening, there was a good bluefin bite on 100- to 125-pound fish from spots of breaking fish that were biting on poppers and surface iron. This morning, a skipper who was fishing solo also reported catching his 2-fish limit of 40-pound class bluefin that bit on sardines that he presented to breezing fish.


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TUNA TRIFECTA ABOARD the Pacific Mistress. PHOTO COURTESY PacificMistress.com

Other active areas with bigger bluefin going 200-plus pounds are the region of the 182 Spot, 43 Fathom Spot, 289 Spot, Mackerel Bank, Desperation Reef, 86 Fathom Spot and the area 2 to 6 miles southeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island.


The yellowfin tuna have been running from 8 to 30 pounds with most falling within the 14- to 20-pound range. Most of them have been caught on sardines after stopping the boat alongside of some breaking fish, a kelp paddy or a meter mark. Most of the stops are of the plunker type where you drift and chum and keep a hookup or two going during a long drift. When the tuna are touchy, it helps to use 15- to 20-pound test fluorocarbon leaders and small hooks.


The bluefin have ranged from 20 to 200-plus pounds, and once located, they have been biting kite-trolled Yummee Flyers, or flying fish under a kite, on slow-trolled mackerel, Flat-Fall jigs, poppers, surface iron, mackerel fished under a balloon and on fly-lined sardines.


Marcus Hale of the Cabrilla found yellowfin feeding around a whale in the area inside of the 302 Spot at 20 miles, 227 degrees from Point Loma. They stopped and chummed and had the fish come to the boat and bite wide open. The fish stayed with the boat and the two aboard caught their limits of 10 yellowfin tuna. Hale said the yellowfin were still biting when they left for home.


Captain Louie Zimm of the Shearwater reported finding a wide-open bite on yellowfin above the 9 Mile Bank at 12 miles, 267 degrees from Point Loma. The two aboard caught 10 of the 17- to 21-pound yellowfin before leaving biting fish to head for home at 10:00 a.m. Those fish were biting on “butt hooked” sardines on 15- and 20-pound test fluorocarbon leaders with size 2 hooks.


Zimm found the red-hot stop by slowly circling a spot of jumpers and laying out a chum line. The fish did not spook, and the fish responded to the chum and came to the boat and stayed with them until they left to head for home. They started idling toward home, and he said the school followed the boat and they had fun watching them boil on every sardine that they tossed in the water as they continued to creep toward Point Loma.


Marlin fishing has been fair with the area some action being reported at areas in the Catalina region such as the Slide, the Can Dump, off Avalon, Long Point, Avalon Bank,14 Mile Bank and at the 152 Spot. There are occasional tailers, sleepers and jumpers being spotted, and some blind jig strikes to be found.There have also been some showings of swordfish off the Can Dump and off Avalon.


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SAN MARCOS ANGLER Joe Craig putting in work aboard his Bad Katitude.

The Coronado Islands have not seen much fishing pressure lately due to the good tuna fishing in local offshore waters. The sportboat Malihini out of H&M Landing fished the Coronados on Friday and their catch was made up of mostly bottom fish with 32 anglers on a full day trip catching 100 rockfish, 94 reds, 15 sculpin, 5 calico bass and 1 sheephead.


The best areas for a shot at surface fishing action have been along the weather side of North Island, the north end of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp and the South Kelp. Good areas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard-bottom areas to the north, northwest and northeast of North Island in 20 to 45 fathoms of water.


The fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to produce a mix of sand bass, calico bass, reds, rockfish and sculpin, and there has also been a chance at finding small bonito along with a shot at 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. Some of the better areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the kelp at the upper end of La Jolla, the kelp bed areas between Solana Beach and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon. There has been some improving sand bass fishing from hard-bottom areas off Imperial Beach and from the Imperial Beach Pipeline.


Rockfish are a significant part of the coastal fishing picture with recent reports of good 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.


Hard bottom and structure spots have been producing some bass and sculpin with productive spots including Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard-bottom spots between the Imperial Beach Pipeline and the Mexico border, 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.


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