Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Batch of wind scatters San Clemente Island bluefin bite

Yellowfin biting at banks below Coronados

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Oct 08, 2019

There are some changes on the offshore fishing stage as the big- bluefin tuna that have been biting off the back side of San Clemente Island finally slowed. A three-day period of strong winds and high seas subsided but despite several days of good weather, the bite has not been the same since. Boats continue to fish for the big bluefin, and there are still some scattered fish being metered but very few are being caught. The hope is the bluefin will regroup, move back onto the spots and once again start showing and biting like they were before the bad weather moved through.

SEPTEMBER BUGGING WAS great for Dan Higley of Oceanside, who hooped up this 4.19-pound lobster in San Diego Bay. It won Heaviest Bug of the Month in Promar’s season-long Bug Battle.

The bluefin going 300-plus pounds have been biting best on kite or helium balloon with flying fish. The areas with signs of activity were off the back side of San Clemente Island between Desperation Reef and the 81 Fathom Spot, the 57 Fathom Spot and the waters outside of Lost Point, Seal Cove and above and outside of the West End.

SCI has also seen some showings of yellowfin tuna and 40- to 100-pound bluefin, but it has not been easy to get those fish to bite. Poppers cast to spots of breaking fish before they sound has been the best way to get a bite. The area to the southeast of the Mackerel Bank and the region of the 289 Spot have been the best zones to try and locate the schools of breaking tuna.

Catalina Island has also produced yellowfin tuna from spots of breaking fish and porpoise schools. The fish with the porpoise have bit on the troll while breaking fish have produced some action on poppers and surface iron. The ridge outside of Church Rock, the 277 Spot, the 152 Spot, the Slide, Avalon Bank and the 14 Mile Bank have been producing occasional yellowfin action. In a new development, a skipper reported fishing 4 miles north of the 209 Spot and seeing lots of breaking yellowfin. He did not have any bait aboard and said he was trying to get them to bite on Coltsnipers.

An area to keep an eye on is the Cortes Bank where there have been good numbers of yellowtail biting and where there has also been an occasional flurry of bluefin and yellowfin action. The region around and about the 9 Fathom Spot has been the best.

The zone where there are good numbers of biting tuna to be found is the waters below and outside the Coronado Islands where boats have been finding yellowfin mixed with skipjack, kelp-paddy yellowtail and an occasional bluefin tuna or dorado. The bite has been good enough that some near-limit to limit catches of mostly 12- to 30-pound yellowfin tuna have been coming from this sector.

Productive areas for the yellow­fin have been the waters around and about the 425 Bank, 101 Spot, 371 Bank and 475 Knuckle. There have also been some sporadic showings of yellow­fin and bluefin in the deep water canyon area outside of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank as well as for boats fishing 3 to 5 miles outside of both South Island and North Island.

Lee Fleming of the Jawbreaker fished on Saturday and reported finding good fishing for 9 yellowfin tuna that went to 30 pounds and a large skipjack. Sardines were working well with 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders and size #4 hooks. In addition to the fish they boated, he said they lost another dozen hook-ups on the light gear. Fleming was fishing 8 miles south of the 425 Bank at 32 miles, 186 degrees from Point Loma.

Tom Golding of the Last Buck also fished Saturday and reported catching limits of 20- to 30-pound yellowfin for the three anglers aboard (15 yellowfin). Golding said they caught their fish from a stop that originated after a generous private boater put out a call that they had caught their limits of yellowfin and asking if anyone wanted to come in and take over the stop. Golding went to the area and set up a drift a good distance away from the two boats that were fishing and started chumming. He said it did not take long for the yellowfin to respond to the chum and come to the boat, and once the fish came to the boat, they stayed with them until they limited out. Golding said that the yellow­fin were still biting when they pulled away and left the stop.

Golding said the water in the area where they caught yellowfin was 68.4 degrees. The hot stop was found to the southwest of the 425 Bank at 30 miles, 191 degrees from Point Loma. After limiting out on yellowfin, Golding said they went looking for kelp paddies and yellowtail. They went out to the 43 Fathom Spot and found lots of big kelps with bait under them but could not find game fish with them.

Jeff Petit of the O’Strike reported fishing a half day on Thursday out to the 178 Spot above the 9 Mile Bank. He said the area was full of life, and he saw lots of spots of bluefin tuna in the 30- to 50-pound range. Petit was fishing solo, and he tried casting jigs but said they would sound before he could get within casting range. He said there were two other boats in the area also fishing with jigs and sardines, and he did not think that anyone in the area was able to get the bluefin to bite. This activity was found about 1.5 miles south of the 178 Spot, 14 miles, 263 degrees from Point Loma.

The marlin fishing remains slow with a few being reported in the San Diego region and around the eastern part of Catalina. The Marlin Club in San Diego held their 2-day ILTT tournament and only one hook-up was reported that I know of, and that was off the East End of Catalina. The tournament was opened up to include tuna, and most of the fish caught were yellowfin caught at the offshore banks below and outside of the Coronado Islands such as the 371 Bank, 425 Bank and Upper Hidden Bank.

Spots in the Catalina area which have provided occasional marlin action have been the region of the 267 Spot, 14 Mile Bank, Avalon Bank, the Slide, the 152 Spot and off Church Rock. At press time, there was a tailer reported about 3 miles to the west of the 14 Mile Bank. In the San Diego region, there has been occasional marlin activity reported by boats fishing the region of the 9 Mile Bank, the end of the Ridge below the 182 Spot and the area to the east and southeast of the 302 Spot.

Boats continue to find sword­fish using the deep drop method. In the San Diego region, there has been action reported at 178 Spot; and up around Catalina, there has been swordfish reported at spots around the eastern part of the Island around the 152 Spot, off the Slide and off Avalon.

There has not been much news coming from the Coronado Islands with the last report the Rockpile area produced pretty good surface fishing for a mix of yellowtail, barracuda, bonito and calico bass. The fishing for rockfish has also been good around the Coronados, and productive areas have been at the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard-bottom areas to the north, the northwest and the northeast of North Island while fishing in 20 to 45 fathoms of water.

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

The best zone for a chance at scratching out a yellowtail has been at the upper end of La Jolla, but the fishing has been slow.

Calico bass continue to provide some surface fishing in kelp areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast. Most of the calicos are undersized and the overall bite has been declining some. Some of the more productive areas for calicos have been the Point Loma Kelp, 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.

In addition to the kelp bed areas, hard bottom and structure spots have also 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 the most 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 Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar and Box Canyon.

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