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Private Boater's Report: Small vessels back at it under better conditions

BY BOB VANIAN/976BITE.comPublished: Jan 22, 2019

Forkies under the right paddies

The major news of the week was that weather systems continue to pass through Southern California bringing rain, wind and high seas. The good news is there was a bit of a break in the weather over the weekend. Some boats had a chance to get out fishing and do some looking around under improved conditions. The best news was the reports of bluefin tuna and kelp-paddy yellowtail to be found in local offshore waters.

The bluefin reports came from the area a short way to the south of the high spot at the 14 Mile Bank. There was a lot of life in the way of spots of breaking tuna, birds, bait, kelp-paddy yellowtail and porpoise in this sector, and there was even an estimated 300-plus-pound swordfish seen.

The bluefin bite was scratchy but there were some bites to be had on 50- to 80-pound fish. Sardines and mackerel were the best baits, and the bluefin bites were coming by drifting or slow trolling with those live baits in areas where breaking bluefin were showing. There was not much coverage of other areas over the weekend, but in recent weeks there have also been bluefin holding by the oil rigs in the Catalina Channel, 2 to 4 miles off the coast between the Newport Pier and Crystal Cove and 2 to 5 miles off the coast between Point San Mateo and the Carlsbad Canyon.

Some of the kelp paddies in the region ranging from the Catalina Channel on down to some of the offshore banks outside of the Coronado Islands such as the 371 Bank have been holding yellowtail in recent weeks. The weekend reports from boats fishing the bluefin in the Catalina Channel around areas like the14 Mile Bank and the 267 Spot were that there were some empty kelp paddies, some holding tiny 10 inch yellowtail and others that were holding some 5- to 6-pound yellowtail.

The Malihini out of H&M Landing fished around the Coronado Islands over the weekend, and they found good fishing for an assortment of rockfish and also found a bit of surface action on bonito and yellowtail. On Saturday, the Malihini had a full-day trip with 19 anglers sacking 128 rockfish, 2 sculpin, 1 lingcod, 1 sheephead, 1 calico bass, 1 yellowtail and 10 bonito. On Sunday, the Malihini had a full day trip with 10 anglers catch 50 rockfish, 37 reds and 1 sheephead.

Good areas for rockfish have been at the South Kelp Ridge while fishing in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island while fishing in 35 to 45 fathoms of water. Best areas for a chance at finding some surface fishing action have been the weather side of North Island and the Middle Grounds.

The Premier out of H&M Landing has been running weekday half-day trips into Mexican waters that usually target rockfish. They tend to fish the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard-bottom to the north and northwest of North Island on these trips. Their fish count for Friday was 12 anglers on a half-day trip catching 120 assorted rockfish.

Sportboats have been running 1.5-day trips to fish Punta Colonet, and they have been finding a mix of yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod, whitefish and an assortment of rockfish. Try to find meter marks, or spots of working birds to locate the yellowtail. Once yellows are located, try yo-yo iron or sardines fished on a dropper loop rig.

H&M Landing had the Old Glory fishing a 1.5-day trip on Saturday with 21 anglers getting on 12 yellowtail and 155 rockfish. Point Loma Sportfishing had the New Lo-An out on Saturday, and they were fishing their own 1.5-day trip that had 27 anglers taking home 100 rockfish, 135 reds and 18 yellowtail. Saturday’s fishing also saw Fisherman’s Landing send out the Pacific Queen on a 1.5-day with 24 anglers that caught 90 yellowtail, 90 reds and 60 rockfish.

Anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border need to keep in mind that the annual two month rockfish/ groundfish closure went into effect on January 1. Anglers looking to fish for species covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters until the closure comes to an end on March 1.

The fishing along the San Diego coast is providing a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin and has also been producing a few halibut and bonito. There has not been much happening on yellowtail, but there has been an occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for bass and sculpin.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin, and the best areas for bonito have been outside of Imperial Beach, by the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, outside of the Green Tank at Point Loma, outside of Point Loma College and outside of the upper end of La Jolla.

Pat McDonell of Western Outdoor News and the boat Robalo fished Tuesday with his friend Bill Regan aboard. McDonell said they got in a morning of fishing in good weather and reported finding what he called “very, very good” fishing for nice sized calico and sand bass. He reportedly found the bite at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and said they caught calico bass to 4-plus pounds and some sand bass that were

in the 3.5- to 4-pound range. HookUp Bait plastics were reported to be working very well in the 3/8 ounce and the 5/8 ounce sizes. Fishing a rig using 2 Hookup Baits was also mentioned as being effective for the bass.

Tuesday was McDonell’s first time using the new launch ramp facility at Shelter Island, and he said it was considerably bigger than the prior facility. He was happy about it finally being open and called it a great facility. The only negative comment was it did appear to be open to having a surge come through the entrance to the launch facility caused by wakes from boats that were passing by out in the main channel of the bay.

There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive halibut areas include the sandy-bottoms near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, off South Ponto Beach, next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower located outside of Mission Beach, next to the structure of the Yukon Shipwreck located outside of Mission Beach, San Diego Bay and the sandy bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

TALL TAIL — Stacy Richardson flipped a live sardine on straight 40-pound mono aboard the private charter vessel, Primo, and scored this speedy thresher shark. PHOTO COURTESY

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