Private Boaters

Private Boater’s Report: Forkies wide open at Coronados

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Jul 16, 2019

Drop in water temp sends tuna to warmer areas

The past week of offshore fishing saw some changes as the water out by the Kidney Bank where the 302 Spot and 224 Spots are located cooled from 69 to 70 degrees down to 62 degrees. The Kidney Bank had been a tuna hotspot prior to the drop, but the change slowed the fishing.

By the end of the weekend, the dust had settled after the drop in the water temperature, and there were two primary areas where bluefin tuna were being located. For those looking for the jumbo bluefin, the adjacent areas that were providing good showings were in the region of the 43 Fathom Spot, the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy and the Corner with the area inside of the San Clemente Basin Weather Buoy being the best. It was not easy to get the bluefin to bite, but there were impressive showings of large bluefin, and there were a few biting fish to be found. 

privateboaterPRIVATE BOATER Joe Craig, left, of the Bad Katitude got a tip there were tuna boiling at the 43, so he headed over and picked off two bluefin on trolled cedar plugs and three yellowfin at the 181 were caught on casting lures. Also on board were Cory Sieverding and Vince Moretti.

The second area that provided bluefin action was the offshore waters outside of Ensenada while working the area about halfway between the Inner Bank (where the 238 Spot is located) and the Banda Bank. Skippers were reporting impressive showings of 40- to 100-pound class bluefin throughout this sector, and these bluefin outside of Ensenada were biting a little bit better than the 100- to 250-pound bluefin that were showing in those other areas.

Yellowfin tuna showings declined dramatically when the water cooled at the Kidney Bank, but there were a few spots in the areas where the bluefin were found. There have also been shots at kelp paddy yellowtail offshore, and the tuna areas outside of Ensenada have also produced an occasional dorado.

A popper cast to spots of foaming fish has been the best way to catch a tuna. Stick baits, ColtSnipers and surface iron have also been effective with sardines producing some of the bluefin being caught outside of Ensenada. Not much has been happening on the troll, but an occasional tuna has been caught on a cedar plug or Rapala. Trolling the jigs far behind the boat has been helpful.

Robert Serdoz of the Lucky Charm fished the bluefin out by the Corner on Saturday and reported seeing lots of spots of jumbo bluefin tuna that did not want to bite. His central area of bluefin activity was found below the Corner, 32 miles, 248 degrees from Point Loma.

Serdoz reported trying everything he could think of in the way of poppers, stickbaits and surface iron and could not get a response from a bluefin despite having his popper in the middle of a spot of foaming bluefin on more than one occasion. There were a few of the bigger bluefin biting over the weekend, but the frustration Serdoz experienced was felt by many an angler over the weekend.

The “smaller” 40- to 100-pound class in the area between the Banda Bank and the Inner Bank outside of Ensenada were biting a bit better than the big bluefin and some of the better sportboat bluefin counts for boats fishing outside of Ensenada on Sunday got up into the teens.

There continue to be a few striped marlin in the offshore fishing picture. The best report from the weekend was from a swordfish captain who saw a group of three marlin off the middle part of the lee side of San Clemente Island while fishing below the Mackerel Bank.

What has been outstanding has been the fishing for 10- to 16-pound yellowtail at the Coronado Islands. The South Kelp and South Kelp Ridge have been the hot spot areas with some of the sportboat trips posting limits of yellowtail. The fishing has been so good for yellowtail that some of the overnight trips and multi-day trips that would normally be offshore fishing for tuna have been spending some time or even the whole day fishing there.

Surface iron, yo-yo iron and flylined sardines have been working best. To complement the great yellowtail fishing, there has also been a nice mix of barracuda, bonito and calico bass biting to round out the catch.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast remains good for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, reds, rockfish, sculpin and whitefish along with an occasional flurry of barracuda action and an occasional bonus yellowtail, halibut or lingcod.

The best zone at a chance for some barracuda action has been in the area of the Whistler Buoy off Point Loma and along the edges of the Point Loma Kelp Beds. The Point Loma Kelp Beds have also been producing surface action for improving numbers of calico bass. The yellowtail fishing along the coast continues to be slow, but there has been a bit more yellowtail activity reported over the past couple of days from the upper end of La Jolla.

In addition to the Point Loma Kelp Beds, calico bass have also been active and biting in several other kelp bed areas along the San Diego County coast that include the kelp beds off the upper and the upper middle part of La Jolla, the kelp beds between Solana Beach and Carlsbad and the kelp beds by the Barn and San Onofre.

Some of the sportboat trips are focusing on rockfish, and productive 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.

The highlight report from Catalina Island is that there has been good yellowtail fishing found while fishing areas around the eastern part of the Island. Surface iron, sardines and live squid have been working for the yellows while fishing areas such as Church Rock, the East End Light, Seal Rocks, the Blue Car and the Can Dump. Squid boats have often been offering squid for sale while anchored in front of Avalon.

JOJO PEMBERTON CAUGHT this monster 19.6-pound sheephead on a Hookup Baits Red Crab on a 1-ounce head while fishing out of Dana Landing.

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