Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Pelagics still in reach but the cooler-water clock is ticking

BY BOB VANIAN/976Tuna.comPublished: Nov 14, 2017

It’s November and Southern California anglers can still target yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, striped marlin, yellowtail and big bonito. It is my feeling that the yellowfin bite over the past weekend of was the best of the season for quality fish.

The past weekend saw big numbers of quality yellowfin biting for boats fishing the area above the Butterfly Bank. They were running from 20 to 60 pounds with most in the 30- to 55-pound range.

Sportboat counts from the area were impressive. Some of the weekend’s counts from sportboats fishing out of San Diego area landings were the Old Glory out of H&M Landing that had a 1.5-day trip with 15 anglers catch 80 yellowfin. Fisherman’s Landing had the Liberty out on a 1.5-day where 19 anglers caught 74 yellowfin tuna. Point Loma Sportfishing had a 1.5-day on the New Lo Ann with 14 anglers catch 108 yellowfin. Seaforth Sportfishing had a 1.5-day trip on the Aztec with 20 anglers catching 34, and boats fishing out of Los Angeles and Orange County were also getting in on the action. The Freedom out of 22nd Street Landing was out on an overnight trip with 35 anglers that caught 73 yellowfin tuna. The Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing had an overnight trip with 16 anglers that caught 100 yellowfin tuna.

Look for porpoise schools, trolling strikes, sonar marks, meter marks, bait balls and working birds to locate the yellowfin. Sardines have been working well while drifting on a school of fish.

The bluefin tuna fishing up at San Clemente Island was producing during the week but most boats are now fishing the yellowfin at the Butterfly Bank. I talked with Captain Kley Williams of the Old Glory out of H&M Landing after his over­night trip to San Clemente Island that fished on Wednes­day, and he reported Williams reported that his 17 anglers had a nice trip in catching 16 bluefin tuna out of a long plunker type of stop where they were steadily picking away at the bluefin. Their bluefin were nice-sized fish with a small one of 48 pounds and the rest being bigger fish that went well up into the 60s.

Tom Golding of the Last Buck fished the area around San Clemente Island targeting bluefin and yellowfin on Saturday and reported finding slow fishing. He said the water was running 65 to 66 degrees, and that they looked around the areas of the 57 Fathom Spot, 190, 86 Fathom Spot, 81 Fathom Spot and Desperation Reef. Golding said he marked what he thought were bluefin tuna 150 feet below the surface at Desper­ation Reef but could not get them to respond. They ended up fishing for bass and rockfish and said they caught some short calico bass they released along with some salmon grouper.

Those chasing striped marlin are continuing to find some in the areas around the eastern part of Catalina Island. The best zone has been ranging from the 152 Spot on over to the front side of the Island to where you are fishing between Avalon and the Avalon Bank. There have been blind trolling strikes and some tailers and feeders seen. I estimate there were 3 or 4 marlin caught and released from this region over the weekend.

The fishing at the Coronado Islands remains good for a mix of big bonito, yellowtail and rockfish along with a chance at bluefin. As an example, the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a three-quarter day trip on Sunday and had 35 anglers catch 41 yellowtail, 2 bluefin and 175 bonito.

The bonito are 3- to 10-pound fish biting at many spots around the Islands such as the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the weather side of South Island, the Ribbon Kelp, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the Rockpile. Yellowtail have been biting best at the hard-bottom area to the northeast of North Island in 20 to 22 fathoms.

Yellowtail have also been reported along the weather side of North Island, at the Middle Grounds, at the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the South Kelp. The best chance at bluefin has been spots around the south part of South Island such as the 5 Minute Kelp, the Lighthouse and the South Kelp.

Productive techniques for locating bonito and yellowtail have been trolling strikes on feathers, cedar plugs and Rapalas as well as stopping on meter marks, sonar marks or spots of breezing fish. Most of the bluefin activity has been found while anchored and chumming.

Private boaters have also had success with bonito, yellowtail and bluefin tuna while slow trolling with sardines.

There has also been good fishing for bonito and an occasional yellowtail off San Diego. Boats fishing out of Point Loma have done best while fishing the Imperial Beach Flats a short way above the Mexico Border in 15 to 25 fathoms of water. There has also been some bonito action reported outside of Point Loma in an area ranging from the Lighthouse on up to Point Loma College while fishing in 20 to 40 fathoms of water. There has also been good bonito fishing reported of the upper end of La Jolla with the area of the La Jolla Canyon being a very productive zone on Sunday. Boats fishing further up the coast have been catching bonito while fishing outside of Box Canyon, San Onofre and Dana Point out in the 30 to 60 fathom depths.

The bonito have been running from 3 to 10 pounds and have been biting well on trolled feathers and Rapalas. The bonito will sometimes bite well on sardines and small chrome jigs after getting a trolling strike.

There have been occasional yellowtail biting with the bonito in the Imperial Beach Flats and in the La Jolla region. Calico bass are still biting pretty well at some of the kelp bed areas up and down the San Diego County coast but as the water cools, more and more boats are starting to fish hard bottom areas for rockfish instead of the kelp beds for calico bass.

LONG BEACH ANGLER Chris Lillis fooled this Catalina calico with an umbrella rig ahead of a Warbaits ½-ounce underspin. PHOTO COURTESY OF LBCEEZ on INSTAGRAM

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