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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: All tuna still firing

Low-pressure system to likely throw a wrench in the works

BY BOB VANIAN/976BITE.comPublished: Nov 19, 2019

The Southern California tuna season marches on as there continues to be good catches of mixed yellowfin, bluefin, skipjack and yellowtail being made in waters ranging from Catalina on down to the Butterfly Bank and Kidney Bank areas off San Diego. Water temperatures remain in the 65- to 67-degree range, and the fish have been holding in the area quite well with the present water conditions. Looming is a chance of rain with increasing wind in the forecast between Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning. It will be interesting to see what effect some un­settled weather will do to the conditions and fishing.

BUTTERFLIED — Jim Wicklund took his son Brian and daughter-in-law Melissa out to the Butterfly Bank on his boat Sea Venture on Veterans Day, where Melissa caught her largest fish to date, a 35-pound yellowfin caught on live bait. It was a 40-minute fight on 20-pound gear.

The best fishing is being found in an area ranging from the 302 Spot at the Kidney Bank on out to the Butterfly Bank for boats working an area ranging from 20 to 55 miles, 222 to 234 degrees from Point Loma. Within this zone, the 230 Spot and 302 have been very good for 15- to 30-pound yellowfin tuna and an occasional 20- to 60-pound bluefin. On Monday, boats fishing near the high spot at the 302 Spot and the 230 Spot reported quite a few limits of yellowfin before noon. The Butterfly Bank has provided the best chance at a larger bluefin to 250-plus pounds and has also been very good for yellowfin. Most of the yellowfin by the Butterfly Bank have been running from 20 to 45 pounds.

Yellowfin and bluefin action has been coming from stopping on meter marks, kelp paddies, spots of breaking fish and skipjack and yellowfin jig strikes. Sardines have been working best for bait with mackerel, ColtSnipers and Flat-Fall jigs also producing some action.

Ken Morris of the Ken-Dandy fished a 1.5-day trip aboard the Condor out of Fisherman’s Land­ing on Saturday. He reported excellent yellowfin tuna fishing while working the area between the 230 Spot and the Butterfly Bank. The count for the trip was 31 anglers on a 1.5-day catching their limits of 155 yellow­fin tuna, 6 yellowtail and 1 bluefin tuna. Morris reported catching 10 yellowfin before a sore wrist caused him to stop fishing. He kept his 5-fish limit of yellowfin tuna and released the rest.

Morris added that sardines and ColtSnipers were working well for the yellowfin. Most were in the 20- to 30-pound class. Morris was fishing with smaller sardines on a 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader with a size-4 ringed Owner Flyliner hook.

Other areas that provided some tuna activity during the week were the 224 Spot, the Corner, the 9 Mile Bank, the 14 Mile Bank, the Steamer Lane outside of the 14 Mile Bank and the area 2 to 6 miles off the coast between Abalone Point and Dana Point.

Also on Monday morning, a skipper reported limits of yellowfin while fishing about halfway between the 9 Mile Bank and the 224 Spot. There was also a report that kelp paddies found into the northeast of the 289 Spot were loaded with 3- to 5-pound yellowtail. There was a report from Sunday’s fishing that porpoise found in the lee of San Clemente Island were holding yellowfin, and there were also some 50- to 60-pound bluefin biting for boats between the 14 Mile Bank and the Steamer Lane located outside of the 14 Mile Bank.

Marlin fishing has slowed, but quite a few boats have been deep-drop fishing for swordfish with pretty good overall action reported in areas ranging from Catalina and Newport Beach on down to San Diego. Productive areas have been the 152 Spot, the Slide and the coastal dropoff shelf outside of Newport Beach, Abalone Point and Oceanside. In the San Diego region, productive areas have been the 178 Spot and the outside edges of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank. The deep-drop fishing is such a new thing that skippers keep experimenting in trying areas off the coast and offshore that have interesting looking bottom contours that they think might be holding swordfish.

There has not been any news coming from the Coronado Islands lately with most boats continuing to fish the good tuna bite offshore. The last reports were of good bottom fishing and some biting bonito. Good areas for bonito would be along the weather side of North Island and at the Rockpile. Best zones for bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at hard bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island while fishing in 25 to 50 fathoms of water.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of reds, rockfish, whitefish, sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. There has also been a chance at catching a bonus halibut, lingcod, yellowtail or finding a flurry of bonito action.

As the water temperatures continue to cool it there has been more and more focus on fishing for rockfish and reds along the coast. Some of the best fishing for reds and rockfish has been coming from areas such as the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the west and northwest of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Green Tank at Point Loma, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.

In addition to the good fishing for reds and rockfish along the San Diego County coast, there are also some pretty good numbers of sand bass, sculpin and calico bass biting. Hard bottom, structure and kelp-bed areas have been producing bass and sculpin with the better areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, 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, Solana Beach, Leucadia, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

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