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Private Boater's Report

Private Boater’s Report: 60 Mile Bank still producing bluefin, while yellowfin thin out

BY BOB VANIAN/976Bite.comPublished: Dec 06, 2017

We are well into December, and it is incredible that we still have bluefin tuna to talk about. Some days are better than others, but there are still some limit catches of bluefin tuna being reported.

The 60 Mile Bank continues to be the top bluefin zone, and Saturday saw the bluefin counts dip for a lot of the boats fishing the area. The bite bounced right back on Sunday with the Daiwa Pacific out of H&M Landing catching limits of 30 bluefin for 15 anglers while on an overnight trip and with the Chief out of H&M Landing catching 35 on day two of a 2.5-day trip.

Most of the bluefin have been in the 15- to 25-pound range, but there are still bigger bluefin to 100-plus pounds in the mix. Sardines, live squid and Flat-Fall jigs have been working for the bluefin with the sardines and squid working best.

Tom Golding of the Last Buck reported fishing the 60 Mile Bank on Saturday and finding scratchy fishing. They fished hard all day and caught a single bluefin of 18 pounds. Golding said they caught the fish at 4:00 p.m. on a sardine while drifting. In addition to drifting they tried slow-trolling sardines at times during the day.

Captain Ron Bowers of the Salt Fever fished a 2-day trip to the 60 Mile Bank on Saturday and Sunday. He reported good fishing on both days catching 18 bluefin out of 30 hook-ups. He said they were finding the bluefin action on flylined sardines and on ’dines fished with a sinker. They found action using live bait outfits with fluorocarbon leaders that ranged in size from 20- to 30-pound test. The bluefin they caught were running from 15 to 25 pounds, and Bowers said that they also hooked and lost a much larger bluefin that was estimated at 100 pounds.

Bowers was doing things a bit different than most of the boats fishing the 60 Mile Bank. He said most of the boats were either anchored, drifting or slow trolling around the 53 fathom high spot, but they drifted on meter marks and sonar marks that they found in the deep water to the southwest of the high spot while inside of the 500 fathom curve. They were all by themselves in that area, and their drifts lasted for hours. During their longest drift, they went over 3 miles and were metering fish under the boat the entire time.

There are occasional showings of bluefin reported in other areas such as the Butterfly Bank, the San Clemente Basin and the 302 Spot, but it is usually difficult to get the breaking fish being seen in those areas to settle down and bite. There are still occasional reports of yellowfin tuna around the Butterfly Bank, but their numbers have been on decline and the reports have been of scratchy yellowfin fishing in recent days. Finding porpoise or spots of breaking fish have been the best ways to catch a yellowfin.

The Coronado Islands have been good for a mix of bonito, bass and assorted rockfish, and there have also been occasional flurries of yellowtail action. There still might be a chance at catching a bluefin tuna around the Coronados as well.

The water temperature around the Coronados has been running from 62 to 64.5 degrees, and finding areas with the warmer 64.5-degree water has been a key to locating yellow­tail. Productive areas have been the weather side of North Island, the Middle Grounds, the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island and the South Kelp. The Rockpile would be another productive area if you are there on one of the days when the warmer water has pushed in from the west.

As an example of the recent fishing, the Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing ran a three-quarter day trip to the Coronados on Saturday and had 20 anglers catch 45 bonito, 13 yellowtail, 4 sheephead, 3 lingcod, 70 rockfish and 56 whitefish.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been mostly in rockfish mode. Bottomfishing has been good, but there are still some calico bass, bonito and yellowtail in the picture as well. Most of the surface fishing activity has been found fishing areas around the Point Loma Kelp Beds and the Imperial Beach Flats.

The numbers of yellowtail and bonito have been declining, but there remains a chance at finding some surface fishing action around the International Reef, the Imperial Beach Pipeline, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and Buoy #3 at Point Loma. While fishing outside of the Point Loma Kelp Beds there has been occasional bonito and yellowtail activity while fishing outside of the Dropoff, the Green Tank and Point Loma College.

Most of the surface fishing action has been reported while trolling and looking for trolling strikes, meter marks, sonar marks or spots of working birds to stop on and fish with sardines. A good depth range tends to be in 18 to 25 fathoms of water. On Wednesday there was a jumbo yellowtail caught that was estimated to be between 35 to 40 pounds. This fish was caught in a different manner and was caught in 10 fathoms of water while fishing the area a short way below the Green Tank at Point Loma. The big yellowtail bit on a sardine fished on the bottom with a dropper loop rig.

MATT NEWMAN FISHED with Jon Anderson and guide Gerry Mahieu last week on Mahieu’s Robalo and used up all the bait in the tank to load up on this quality grade tuna.

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