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Private Boaters Report

Private Boater’s Report: Weather keeps door slammed on offshore waters

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Feb 12, 2019

The series of weather systems that moved through Southern California around the first part of the year is still with us well into February with the past week seeing some more Small Craft Advisories posted. We are still in the same weather pattern, and there are more storms forecasted for the upcoming week. Anglers have had to watch the forecasts closely and choose the good days between storms to do their fishing, and there has been some action to be found on the better days.

There has not been any news of bluefin tuna or kelp-paddy yellowtail being caught from local offshore waters for a couple of weeks. There have not been any boats out looking that I know, so one can only speculate about what pelagic species might still be offshore. Last reports of bluefin came from the Ridge between the 181 Spot and 182 Spot, but the most recent report from that area was of slow fishing except for there being some tiny throwback-sized yellowtail biting around some of the kelps.

The past weekend saw a few sportboats on 1.5-day trips down the Mexican coast to Punta Colonet, and they once again found very good mixed-bag fishing for yellowtail, bonito, reds, lingcod and an assortment of rockfish. Some fish counts from boats fishing on Saturday start with the Old Glory out of H&M Landing that had 24 anglers catch 120 reds, 79 rockfish, 29 bonito, 7 yellowtail and 2 lingcod. Seaforth Sport­fishing had the Tomahawk on a 1.5-day with 25 anglers scoring 90 rockfish, 70 reds, 50 bonito, 24 whitefish, 7 lingcod, 5 yellow­tail and 4 sheephead. Seaforth Sportfishing also had the Tribute on a 1.5-day with 26 anglers who caught 130 rockfish, 100 reds, 12 yellowtail, 11 whitefish and 7 bonito.

The Relentless out of H&M Landing fished a weekend 2-day trip and had 16 anglers sacking 160 reds, 150 rockfish, 5 lingcod, 1 yellowtail and 1 sheephead.

The yellowtail off Punta Colonet have been mostly the 15- to 25-pound-class. The best bet for the yellowtail has been looking for meter marks, sonar marks or spots of working birds to stop on. Once yellows are located, try yo-yo iron or sardines fished on a dropper loop rig. The heavy Salas 6X and Salas 7X sized jigs in scrambled egg color have been working best.

The Malihini out of H&M Land­ing fished the Coronado Islands on Sunday, and Captain Bill Wilkerson reported very good fishing for a mix of reds, lingcod, whitefish, sheephead and assorted rockfish. The surface fishing was scratchy, but they did have a bonito within their catch as well. The fish count on the Malihini was 25 anglers on a full day trip catching 125 reds, 75 rockfish, 44 whitefish, 3 sculpin, 2 sheephead and 1 bonito.

Good areas for the bottom fishing have been at the South Kelp Ridge in 25 to 40 fathoms of water and at the hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 35 to 50 fathoms of water. The best area for surface fishing has been along the weather side of North Island.

The Premier out of H&M Land­ing has been running week­day half-day trips into Mexican waters that usually target rockfish. On these trips, they tend to fish the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and the hard-bottom to the north and northwest of North Island. Their last trip was on Friday when they had 22 anglers on a half-day trip catching an assortment of 220 rockfish.

Anglers fishing on the United States side of the Mexico border need to keep in mind that the annual 2-month rockfish/ groundfish closure went into effect on Jan. 1. The end of the closure is approaching, but anglers seeking to fish for the rockfish/groundfish species that are covered by the closure need to go to Mexican waters to do so until the closure comes to an end on March 1.

Boats fishing coastal trips have been able to do some fishing in decent weather between systems, and the fishing along the San Diego County coast continues to provide a mix of sand bass, calico bass and sculpin as well as a few halibut. There is occasional yellowtail activity reported but not much has been biting when the schools of yellows decide to show. The areas where activity has been reported in recent weeks have been at the upper end of La Jolla, the lower end of La Jolla and the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma.

Hard bottom and structure areas have been best for the bass and sculpin with productive areas being the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the hard bottom to the north and northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the Green Tank, the Variety Kelp area below the MLPA closure area at the lower end of La Jolla, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and Box Canyon.

Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing and the Oceanside Sea Center reports continued good fishing. Cacciola reports that Oceanside Sea Center boats have done well on sculpin while fishing the Box Canyon area. What he says is often better, though, is the unseasonably-good mixed bag fishing for sand bass, calico bass, sculpin, perch and an occasional halibut, triggerfish or white seabass while fishing the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside and as well as the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines.

Fishing with strips of fresh frozen squid has been working well for the bass and sculpin. One of the best techniques has been fishing the squid strip on a bare leadhead.

As an example of the recent fishing, the Chubasco II and the Pronto fished out of the Ocean­side Sea Center on Sunday and they combined for 26 anglers getting 42 perch, 26 sculpin, 19 calico bass, 15 sand bass and 21 sand bass that were released.

There have been a few halibut biting in coastal areas. Some productive halibut spots 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.

On Friday morning, private boater Captain Bob Woodard of the Christina Lynn fished at the Imperial Beach Pipeline and found a few sand bass and sculpin biting but said it was scratchy fishing. He made a move to try for halibut outside of the Imperial Beach Pier, and it paid off when they found good fishing while drifting in 30 to 40 feet of water. Woodard said they caught three legal halibut and that they had a big fish of 12.6 pounds and two additional legal fish that each weighed in at 8 pounds.


dylankoch2DYLAN KOCH VENTURED just outside San Diego Bay to find these sandies.

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