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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Offshore bite evolving, but tuna still widely available

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Nov 05, 2019

Times are changing on the offshore scene, but there are still plenty of yellowfin and bluefin tuna opportunities available. The early part of the week saw some wind outside that put a damper on the fishing, but the late part of the week and the weekend brought fishing, mild winds, warm temperatures and sunny skies except for a bit of patchy fog. It is amazing that we are well into the month of November and are still talking about warm, calm, sunny days combined with good fishing for bluefin and yellowfin!

HIGH NOON SUPER COW — Mike Gaskins of San Diego found the bite he was hoping for when this massive 350-pound bluefin smashed a flying fish under the kite at high noon at San Clemente Island aboard the 6-pack Sauerfish out of Point Loma Sportfishing with Capt. James Santos at the helm. The big blue was on the deck after an hour’s fight.

The waters off the backside of San Clemente Island produced large bluefin tuna in the 80- to 300-plus-pound range. Produc­tive areas over the weekend were to the southeast of Pyramid Head, Desperation Reef, and the regions of the 86 Fathom Spot, the 381 Spot, the 57 Fathom Spot and the 190 Fathom Spot.

The best technique was to fish meter marks with flying fish under a kite or helium balloon, but there was also some action to be found on sardines, mackerel, live squid, kite-trolled Yummee Flyers, Flat-Fall jigs and ColtSnipers. The top private boater reports received were highlighted by 2 or 3 of the jumbo bluefin in a day of fishing.

The weekend also saw good-sized bluefin to 150 pounds biting for boats fishing the region of the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy and the area around the northern wing of the Butterfly Bank. There were also some nice-sized yellowfin to 60 pounds caught from these areas as well. Sunday’s best fishing had moved out to the Butterfly Bank where boats were finding the best action while working from 45 to 50 miles, 235 to 240 degrees from Point Loma.

Most of the stops around the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy and the Butterfly Bank came from stopping on meter marks, sonar marks, kelp paddies and spots of breezing fish. Fly-lined and sinker-rigged sardines and mackerel were working well along with kite- or helium-balloon drifted flying fish, mackerel and sardines. Colt­Snipers and Flat-Fall jigs were also producing.

The region of the 224 Spot at the upper end of the Kidney Bank was a productive area for the 12- to 40-pound yellowfin tuna. Most of the sportboat fleet was fishing the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy and Butterfly Bank regions over the weekend, but Saturday and Sunday’s fishing saw private boaters doing well on yellowfin while fishing the 224 Spot in an area ranging from 20 to 28 miles, 235 to 238 degrees from Point Loma. Skipjack jig strikes, spots of breezing fish, sonar marks, and kelp paddies were leading to those yellowfin.

In the Catalina region, there were some yellowfin biting over the weekend with the Mackerel Bank, the 152 Spot, the 277 Spot and the Slide being areas where there were spots of breaking fish being reported that resulted in biters. The region of the 152, the 277 and the area about half way between the 277 and the 209 have also been producing occasional yellowfin action from fishing around porpoise. Sardines, mackerel and poppers have been working for the yellowfin in the Catalina region. There have also been occasional spots of breaking bluefin showing, and Sunday saw spots reported by a private boater fishing 6.5 miles outside of Newport Beach.

There was a marlin spotted to the northeast of Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island on Friday, but I got no reports about there being any marlin encounters over the weekend. The weekend saw some action on swordfish for boats using the deep-drop method off the Slide and the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina, and there was also some of that for boats fishing the region of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the 178 Spot off San Diego. My estimate for the weekend was that 2 swordfish were caught by boats deep drop fishing at spots around the eastern part of Catalina, and 1 or maybe 2 swordfish were caught by boats fishing the region of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank off San Diego.

PURE SWORDIELATION, small boat-style with Bight Sportfishing. PHOTO COURTESY

There have not been many boats fishing around the Coronado Islands because they’re all heading offshore. The last report from the Coronados was more than a week ago when there was good fishing for rockfish and bonito. Good spots to try for bonito would be the Rockpile and the weather side of North Island. Productive bottom fishing areas have been at the South Kelp Ridge while in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard-bottom areas to the north, the northwest and the northeast of North Island 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 bonito, lingcod, halibut or yellowtail. The best zone for a shot at a yellow along the coast has been at the upper end of La Jolla, and there was also a mid-week report of some small spots showing outside of Mission Beach.

Calico bass are still biting at kelp bed areas up and down much of the San Diego County coast, but the majority of the sportboat trips have been focusing on rockfish. 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 Solana Beach and South Carlsbad, the Barn Kelp, Yellowtail Kelp and the kelp off Box Canyon.

In addition to the kelp beds, 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 becoming more and more of a focus of the fishing effort along the coast as the water temperatures continue to cool. There have been recent reports of good rockfish catches coming from hard bottom areas around the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, 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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