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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Colonet offering rockfish and yellowtail

Mixed bottom-biters at Coronado Islands

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Jan 14, 2020

The past week of fishing provided mostly decent weather days with the late part of the week producing small craft advisories posted on Thursday. It is indeed winter and the bad weather can produce some very rough weather conditions, so anglers and skippers are reminded that they should always be sure to check the latest marine weather forecast before heading out there.

BAY BASHER CASH — Cash Troop with a quality winter sandie that ate a HookUp Baits jig.

Sportboats continue to fish Punta Colonet on 1.5-day trips that are mostly fishing on Saturdays. The high spot area outside of Punta Colonet continues to be productive and providing great mixed-bag fishing for reds, rockfish, lingcod, bonito and yellowtail. As an example of the fishing, Fisherman’s Landing had both the Tomahawk and the Pacific Queen fishing 1.5-day trips to the Punta Colonet region on Satur­day. The Pacific Queen had 33 anglers catch 170 reds, 125 rockfish, 25 yellowtail and 7 lingcod. The Tomahawk had 16 anglers catch 120 rockfish, 18 lingcod, 14 bonito and 3 yellowtail. The yellowtail and the lingcod caught on these trips have been up to 20-plus-pound models, and Fisherman’s Land­ing reports that the yellowtail caught on Saturday were ranging from 15 to 25 pounds.

Best bet for yellowtail off Colonet has been to look for sonar marks and spots of working birds. Yo-yo iron is usually the best way to go once yellowtail are located, and a sardine or mackerel on dropper loop can also be effective. Good choices for yo-yo iron included Salas 6X or 7X jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg, dorado and sardine colors.

Boats fishing for reds and other rockfish in the region of the Coronado Islands have been doing very well and have also been catching an occasional bonus lingcod. Productive areas include hard bottom areas to the north, northeast and northwest of North Island in 25 to 55 fathoms of water. Also productive has been the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank on the Mexico side of the border and fishing in the 60 to 80 fathom depths. Another productive rockfish zone around the Coronados has been spots along the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in the 20 to 40 fathom depths.

The New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has been running daily 3⁄4-day trips to target the bottom fishing around the Coronado Islands. An example of the recent fishing, on Sunday they had 27 anglers return with 165 rockfish, 45 reds and 20 whitefish.

Deep drop fishing for swordfish seems to be winding down. A few boats have given it a try in recent days without much being reported. The last report I have was on Friday afternoon when a commercial boat Cap­tain reported hooking and losing a swordfish in the region of the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank.

The main areas that have been targeted by those trying for swordies are below and outside of the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel, the Avalon Bank, the Rock Quarry at Catalina, the 152 Spot off the East End of Catalina, the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank and the nearby 178 Spot.

Skippers have been drifting the areas mentioned above in 150 to 300 fathoms of water with their baits at around 900 feet. Large frozen squid have been the best bait with live mackerel also producing occasional action.

A reminder to anglers is the annual 2-month rockfish closure on the U.S. side of the Mexico border went into effect on New Year’s Day, and the closure will remain in effect until March 1. Southern California anglers fishing in U.S. waters continue to focus their efforts on species that are still open such as sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, perch, halibut and yellow­tail. The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, perch and sculpin with an occasional bonus halibut or flurry of yellowtail action.

Productive areas for bass and sculpin have been the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom areas to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the hard bottom 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 while fishing 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 been a few halibut biting out in 30 fathoms of water outside of the Yukon shipwreck off Mission Beach and in the area of the sunken NEL Tower outside of that area. There have also been reports of some halibut biting in San Diego Bay.

Pat McDonell of Western Outdoor News and the boat Robalo fished Imperial Beach Pipeline on Tuesday morning, and he found good bass fishing at the pipeline and caught and released good numbers of sand bass and calico bass while fishing plastics around the pipeline. On the way back to Point Loma, he went out to 30 fathoms to look around for yellowtail but did not see any activity. Once back at Point Loma, he did some more bass fishing in San Diego Bay and caught and released more bass before calling it a day.

The showings of yellowtail along the San Diego County coast continue to be un­predictable, but over the past few weeks there have been some found in the area ranging from the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma on up to the upper end of La Jolla. The best area within this stretch over the past couple of weeks has been in the area below and outside of the MLPA closure zone off the lower end of La Jolla. A good depth range has been while fishing in 18 to 30 fathoms.

Captain Kelvin Nettleton of La Jolla Fishing reported finding some yellowtail action below the MLPA closure area at the lower end of La Jolla. Nettleton reported that he and a client caught three of the 20-pound class forkies by 8:30 a.m. and also said they spent the next hour or so working spots of fish that were up and down quickly and did not want to bite. At around 9:30 a.m., the fish stopped showing and they headed for home. Nettleton said that there were 4 boats fishing the same area he was working that all caught yellowtail.

Nettleton’s reported working birds were marking the spots of breaking yellowtail. One of their yellows was caught from a group of fish that had just sounded prior to their arrival and the other two were caught from a group of fish that stayed up and were still up crashing on the surface. They got bit on the surface iron in the 61-degree water.

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