Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: Widespread bluefin activity offsets scratchy yellowtail bite

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Apr 23, 2019

The past week of fishing was once again highlighted by catches of yellowtail and bluefin tuna with yellows biting around the Coronado Islands and bluefin to 130-plus pounds cooperating in the region around and above the Lower 500 Bank below and outside of Ensenada. Recent weather brought several breezy and bumpy days with milder systems continuing to pass through Southern California.

The bluefin fishing has been excellent and a lot of limits are being posted aboard sportboats. H&M Landing had the Relentless, Legend, Old Glory and Poseidon all fishing 1.5- or 1.75-day trips on Saturday, and they all returned with limits of bluefin tuna.

The past couple of days have seen a small westerly movement to the area providing the best bluefin action and most are being caught in the region of the Lower 500 Bank and around the inside of the 1140 Finger. This area has you fishing between 78 and 95 miles, 163 to 165 degrees from Point Loma.

The bluefin stops have been coming from sonar marks or meter marks as well as spots of breezing fish. Breezing fish have had the tendency to show during the afternoon hours. Sardines have been working best either flylined or fished from a kite. Flat-Fall jigs have also been producing some action. There have been a few offshore yellowtail in the mix which have been caught around kelp paddies.

The bluefin have ranged in size from 25- to 130-plus pounds with most in the 40- to 80-pound range. It is a good idea to be prepared with live bait rods that have fluorocarbon leaders ranging from 40- to 100-pound-test so you can readily adjust your tackle selection to how picky the fish might be and how large the fish are.

Not much has been reported about bluefin in waters more local to San Diego during the past week, but in recent weeks, there have been occasional reports of bluefin being found outside of the Coronado Islands in the region between the Coronados and the 425 Bank and also between the Coronados and the 302 Spot.

The yellowtail fishing around the Coronado Islands has been very good at times, but for the most part, it has not been at the near-limit-to-limit pace of last week when some of the counts went over the 200 mark. As an example of the more recent fishing, counts of yellowtail for sportboats fishing full day trips on Easter Sunday ranged from 23 to 52 per boat and also included a mix of bonito and assorted rockfish.

The best zone for yellowtail seems to be moving around from day to day with the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the 5 Minute Kelp, the South Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge being productive areas over the past couple of days.

Most of the yellowtail have been in the 10- to 15-pound class, and stops have been coming from stopping on sonar marks and the occasional spot of fish up on the surface. Looking for bird life can help in getting onto a spot where a meter mark might be likely to be found with the use of a traditional fathometer.

Once located, the yellows have been biting on a variety of jigs and on sardines. If the school of fish stays deep, use yo-yo iron or a sardine on a dropper loop. If a deep-running school of fish responds to the chum and comes to the surface, try surface iron, fly-lined sardines or a ’dine fished with a small sinker. Some yellowtail have also been biting for private boaters trolling X-Rap Rapalas.

Good yo-yo jig choices would include Salas 6X, Salas 6X Jr., Salas 7X and Tady 4/0 jigs in blue and white, scrambled egg and sardine colors. Good surface iron choices include Tady 45 and Salas 7X lights in blue and white, mint and sardine colors.

Most of the bonito that have been biting around the Coronados have been caught incidental to yellowtail fishing. Some of the better zones for rockfish around the Coronados are at hard-bottom areas to the north and northwest of North Island in 35 to 50 fathoms. Another productive zone has been the South Kelp Ridge below South Island in 25 to 40 fathoms of water.

Captain Bob Woodard of the Christina Lynn fished the Coronado Islands at midweek when the yellowtail were playing hard to get. He reported catching one yellow along with a mix of bonito and lots of rockfish. Woodard said they spent part of the day doing some pre-fishing for the upcoming Southwestern Yacht Club’s 49th Annual Bottom Fishing Tournament to be held on May 4, 2019. The tournament is open to the public, and all proceeds go to benefit Elderhelp in San Diego. For more info, visit

Woodard said their best area for surface fishing the South Kelp Ridge below South Island where there were bonito biting along with some signs of yellowtail activity. The one yellowtail they caught was off the back side of South Island, and the fish bit on a trolled plug.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for a mix of bass, sculpin, whitefish, reds and an assortment of rockfish. The past few days have also seen slightly improved surface fishing activity for a chance at scratching out few bonito or a yellowtail. There also continues to be an occasional bonus halibut or lingcod in the mix as well.

The best zone for a shot at a bonito or yellowtail has been the region of the Whistler Buoy outside of Point Loma. There have been occasional spots of breaking fish reported, but most of the action has come while sitting on the anchor or drifting. Private boaters have also seen some action on slow-trolled sardines.

There has also been a chance at scratching out a yellowtail while fishing outside of the upper end of La Jolla. There was also a report of yellowtail being seen up crashing on the surface within the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla.

The occasional coastal yellowtail action has come in a variety of ways that include fishing on the anchor, drifting, slow trolling, meter marks, sonar marks or spots of working birds. Once yellowtail are located, surface iron or yo-yo iron tends to do the trick. Sardines and mackerel have also been productive when slow trolled, flylined or fished on a dropper loop.

Productive rockfish areas off the San Diego County coast include the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, hard-bottom areas in the region of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the Green Tank, The 270 to the west of Mission Bay, the upper end of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, South Carlsbad and Box Canyon.

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 Point Loma Pipeline, 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, and the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside.

There have been a few halibut biting at productive areas including the sandy bottom near the Aliso Pipeline off South Laguna Beach, the area outside of the Oceanside Pier, the sandy bottoms off South Ponto Beach, next to the structure of the sunken NEL Tower, next to the structure of the Yukon Ship­wreck, San Diego Bay and while fishing sandy bottom areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier.

Up at Catalina, there has been some squid to be caught night outside of Ben Weston and off the V’s. Cat has been producing an occasional white seabass or yellowtail, but it continues to be scratchy fishing. Areas where occasional white seabass or yellowtail activity has been reported are fishing outside of the V’s and Salta Verde as well as off the area between Ribbon Rock and the West End. There was also a report of some bonito biting along the front side of the Island above Avalon.

Not much news from San Clemente Island during the week but there has been an occasional yellowtail biting at hard bottom areas off Pyramid Cove as well as along the front side of the Island while fishing in the White Rock area.

daylightbiteDAYLIGHT BITE — Mohit Ghose with the 53-pound grey ghost he caught aboard the Options at Catalina around noon recently. It was only his second saltwater trip! We’ll be looking for more of these noon biscuits during the WON Catalina Island Jackpot, June 7-9.

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