Tesoro Tuna Jackpot


Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Prospecting boats scan for tuna under better conditions

La Jolla yellows scratchy

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Dec 31, 2019

The offshore scene has been featuring some bad weather, and that, combined with the holidays, resulted in a lot of boats staying tied to the dock until better conditions arrived for the weekend. The late part of the week and the weekend saw some boats out fishing offshore targeting bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and kelp paddy yellowtail. The first boats were looking around offshore on Friday and they ran into sloppy weather conditions and slow fishing while working between the Butterfly Bank and the 390 Bank.


The conditions improved on Saturday, and the area between the 1010 Trench and the Upper 500 Bank produced some activity in relatively warm 62.5- to 63- degree water. The action was spread between 55 and 62 miles, 188 to 192 degrees from Point Loma, and the area produced pretty good numbers of kelp paddy yellowtail along with a few skipjack and shot at bluefin.

Saturday, the Tomahawk out of Fisherman’s Landing did a 1.5-day trip that returned with 1 bluefin tuna. Fisherman’s Landing also had the Condor on a 1.5-day with 21 anglers who caught 85 yellowtail. The New Lo-An out of Point Loma Sport­fishing had a 1.5-day trip with 30 anglers getting 8 skipjack. The Old Glory out of H&M Landing fished an overnight trip with 34 anglers who caught 40 yellowtail.

Sunday’s fishing included some long range boats getting on better numbers of bluefin in an area down around 90 miles from Point Loma, and Fisherman’s Landing reported the Royal Star caught 33 bluefin tuna that ranged in size from 35 to 120 pounds. Fisherman’s Landing also said the Shogun caught 11 bluefin on Sunday ranging from 50 to 100 pounds.

There are still some boats fishing for swordfish using the deep drop method, and there is still a bit of action to be found with an occasional swordie being caught. The two main areas anglers have been focusing on have been the coastal drop-off shelf outside of Newport Beach, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the nearby 178 Spot off San Diego. Skippers have been drifting areas in 150 to 300 fathoms of water and have been fishing their baits at around 900 feet. Large frozen squid have been the best bait with live mackerel also producing occasional hook-ups.

There were a couple of sportboat trips to the Coronado Islands over the weekend aboard the Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing, and these were the first trips to sample the fishing at the Islands since the middle of December. They found good fishing for an assortment of bottom fish along with a shot at a yellowtail. Each of the trips had one yellowtail within the fish count and on Sunday, the count was 16 anglers on a full-day trip catching 58 reds, 50 rockfish, 30 whitefish, 16 sheephead, 1 lingcod and 1 yellowtail.

The last reports of good surface fishing around the Coronados came from North Island, the South Kelp Ridge and the Rockpile where there were bonito and yellowtail biting. Good areas for rockfish fishing have been around hard bottom areas to the northwest, north and northeast of North Island in the

25 to 45 fathom depths as well as along the ridges ranging from the South Kelp Ridge to the Rockpile in the 20 to 40 fathoms.

By the time you read this, the annual 2-month rock­fish/ground­fish closure will be in effect in Southern California waters. The closure began on Jan. 1 and remains in effect until March 1. During that time period, anglers looking to fish for rockfish/ groundfish species will need to do so in Mexican waters.

There continue to be occasional flurries of yellowtail action found in the area between the Green Tank at Point Loma and the upper end of La Jolla in 18 to 30 fathoms of water. Within the stretch between the Green Tank at Point Loma and the upper end of La Jolla, specific areas where yellows have popped up during the past few weeks have been outside of the Green Tank, Point Loma College, Mission Bay, Mission Beach, the lower end of La Jolla and the upper end of La Jolla. The early morning hours have been when most of the recent yellowtail activity has been located.

The yellowtail activity has been erratic and mostly slow, but it seems that every few days or so that some are caught. The last day of significant yellowtail activity was Saturday when there were some located outside of Mission Beach and the upper end of La Jolla.

Saturday’s fishing saw the Sea Watch out of Seaforth Sport­fishing do a local three-quarter day trip with 16 anglers who caught 5 yellowtail, 4 sheephead, 19 whitefish and 32 rockfish. The New Seaforth fished a morning half-day with 50 anglers who caught 4 yellowtail, 2 whitefish, 2 sculpin, 8 sheephead and 90 rockfish. On the afternoon trip, they had 40 anglers catch 75 rockfish, 15 whitefish, 8 sculpin and 4 sheephead.

The yellows have been mostly 18- to 25-pound fish, and they have been located with electronics and under working birds. Once found, yo-yo or surface iron, slow-trolled or sardines, fly-lined mackerel, or sardines, dropper-loops have all worked for the yellowtail with yo-yo iron and the surface iron working best. There are recent reports of mackerel being caught for bait in about 40 to 50 feet of water off the Mission Bay jetties.

The remainder of the fishing along the San Diego County coast has been productive for a mix of reds, rockfish, sculpin, bass, sheephead and whitefish. Once the rockfish closure goes into effect on Jan. 1, most anglers will start focusing on hard-bottom and structure spots for sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Good areas for that should include the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom areas to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and to the north and northwest of Buoy #5 at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay, the Variety Kelp below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

There have also been a few halibut biting out in 30 fathoms of water outside of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach and once the closure goes into effect some anglers will also put more effort into fishing the sandy bottom areas around the hard bottom and structure spots for halibut.

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