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Bob Vanian's 976-Bite – HOT BITE

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Rockfish opener and Coronado Islands yellowtail highlight recent action!
Southern California anglers have been looking forward to the first day of March which marks the end of the annual 2 month rockfish / groundfish closure in Southern California waters. There is a lot of anticipation about being able to drop baits and lures down to bottom fishing areas that have been allowed to sit without being fished for a 2 month period. The opening day of fishing saw some bumpy weather conditions and there were some reports of Skippers having to fish some different spots before finding good numbers of quality sized rockfish biting but for the most part it was good fishing on opening day.

Opening day was Thursday, March 1, 2018 and some sample fish counts start with Seaforth Sportfishing that had a morning half day trip on the New Seaforth with 25 anglers catch 15 whitefish, 40 reds, 2 sheephead, 4 lingcod and 168 rockfish. On their afternoon trip, 28 anglers caught 35 whitefish, 25 reds, 1 sheephead, 1 sculpin, 1 lingcod and 127 rockfish.


Point Loma Sportfishing had the Daily Double fishing a half day trip with 12 anglers that caught 2 whitefish, 3 sheephead, 40 rockfish and 2 calico bass.


Fisherman's Landing had the Dolphin fishing a morning half day trip with 21 anglers that caught 43 rockfish and 1 lingcod. On their afternoon trip they had 21 anglers catch 11 sheephead, 8 sculpin, 7 sand bass, 98 rockfish and 9 calico bass.


Some of the better areas for rockfish in the San Diego region are hard bottom spots outside of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, hard bottom areas outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma, the 270 out to the west of Mission Bay, La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia and Box Canyon.


Prior to the rockfish opener there was good mixed bag fishing for sand bass, calico bass, sculpin and a few halibut. Some of the better areas for the bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard bottom areas to the north of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, hard bottom areas to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, hard bottom areas outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma and hard bottom areas outside of La Jolla. Also productive have been hard bottom spots outside of Leucadia and Box Canyon along with the structure of the Anderson Pipeline, Buccaneer Pipeline and the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor.


There have been a few big halibut to 40+ pounds biting at the patches of sandy bottom areas found below and outside of the Point Loma Lighthouse. Other productive areas for a chance at halibut have been the patches of sandy bottom outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck, the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the sunken NEL tower, the sandy bottom outside of Ponto Beach, the sandy bottom adjacent to the structure of the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside Harbor, and the sandy bottom off the Golf Ball area above Oceanside Harbor. Going further north, a couple of additional productive halibut zones have been the sandy bottom off San Onofre and the sandy bottom outside of the San Clemente Pier.


Yellowtail have been showing out in the 20 to 35 fathom depths in the area outside of Pacific Beach and La Jolla but it has been hard to get them to bite. A few yellows have been caught though and they are mostly the large 20- to 30 pound fish. Look for meter marks, sonar marks and spots of breaking fish showing under working birds. When seen under the birds the spots of yellows usually have been fast moving fish and have been hard to get to before they sound. The best bet has been fishing with yo-yoed iron. There has also been occasional yellowtail action on surface iron and on sardines that are fished on dropper loop rigs.


The fishing around the Coronado Islands has been good for yellowtail and an assortment of rockfish. The yellows have been mostly 6- to 10-pound fish that have been biting from meter marks, sonar marks and spots of fish found up on the surface under working birds. Similar to the fish found under the working birds at La Jolla, the yellows found under the working birds around the Coronados have been up and down quickly and difficult to get to before they sound. Yo-yoed iron has worked best for the yellows which have also been biting on surface iron, flylined sardines and sardines that are fished on a dropper loop rig.


The best area for the yellowtail around the Coronados has been while fishing to the southwest of the high spot at the Rockpile. The water temperature in the area has been running 59 to 60 degrees.


On Thursday, March 1, 2018 the Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a three-quarter day trip with 15 anglers catch 34 yellowtail and 75 rockfish. The Liberty out of Fisherman's Landing had a full day trip with 15 anglers catch 15 yellowtail and 75 rockfish. The San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had a full day trip with 12 anglers catch 43 yellowtail, 17 reds and 60 rockfish.


The best bottom fishing areas around the Coronado Islands have been in the region of the Rockpile and at hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island. A good depth range in the areas around North Island has been while fishing in 40 to 50 fathoms of water. Another productive rockfish zone has been at the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank while fishing on the Mexico side of the border.


Last reports from offshore waters were from last week when there were some yellowtail biting under kelp paddies found from the Inner Bank region located below and outside of Ensenada on down to the area of the Lower 500 Bank. A couple of weeks ago there were also bluefin biting at the area outside of the Boot that is located below and outside of Punta Colnett but I have no reports about bluefin being caught from that zone since that time. The weather has been unsettled lately and maybe some more boats will give the offshore fishing another try with better weather.


Boats fishing the High Spot area in closer to the coast off Punta Colnett have been catching good numbers of reds and assorted rockfish along with a few lingcod. There have also been occasional flurries of action on yellowtail and bonito.


The last trips I know of fishing the High Spot region off Punta Colnett were on Saturday, February 24, 2018 and the fish counts start with the Chief out of H&M Landing that fished a 1.5 day trip with 29 anglers that caught limits of rockfish which was 290 rockfish. The Relentless out of H&M Landing fished a 1.5 day trip with 21 anglers catch limits of rockfish which was 210 rockfish. The Old Glory out of H&M Landing fished a 1.5 day trip with 14 anglers that caught 70 reds, 60 rockfish and 10 bonito. The Pacific Queen out of Fisherman's Landing fished a 1.5 day trip with 18 anglers that caught 175 rockfish and 5 lingcod.


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It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where significant catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at www.976bite.com . Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.


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