Written By Bob Vanian
The big news are the big bluefin tuna which have started biting better the past couple of days. On Thursday evening, July 13, 2017, I talked with a private boater who had boated 3 large bluefin tuna that weighed 204 pounds, 112 pounds and 72 pounds as calculated by the fish weight measurement formula. He reported that it was a late bite for them and that they had all their action on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers after 3 p.m.
Another private boater reported hooking a big bluefin on a kite trolled Yummy Flyer at dusk on Thursday evening and put it aboard at around 9:30 p.m. This fish was reported to weigh and 240 pounds. There was a second hand radio report this morning of a 308-pound bluefin being caught on Thursday as well.
The big bluefin are biting out in the same area again today, Friday, July 14, 2017. On Skipper is reporting having caught 4 good sized bluefin on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers so far today and is still fishing. This action on big bluefin is centered in the area of the 43 Fathom Spot with other bluefin activity also being reported in the areas of the Corner, the 224 Spot and the 302 Spot. The bluefin have certainly bit best on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers and there has also been an occasional bluefin caught on a cedar plug, Rapala or Halco #130.
Yellowfin tuna are also in the picture and have been running in the 20- to 70-pound range with most in the 30 to 45 pound class. As has been the case with the bluefin, it can often be difficult to get the yellowfin to bite. One of the better yellowfin zones has been in the Catalina region for boats fishing the areas of the 14 Mile Bank, the area to the south of the Steamer Lane, the 277 Spot, the 209 Spot and the 312 Spot. This morning there was also a report of a boat that picked up a couple of yellowfin tuna while fishing a short way to the west of the 267 Spot outside of Dana Point. In the San Diego region, the best areas for a chance at yellowfin tuna have been the 224 Spot, the 302 Spot, the 230 Spot and the Corner.
Most of the yellowfin action has come via stopping alongside of spots of breaking fish and then baiting the yellowfin with casting jigs such as surface iron, Colt Snipers and Flat Falls. There have also been a few trolling strikes to be found while trolling areas with breaking fish or porpoise and there have been a few blind strikes to be found as well.
There have been yellowtail and dorado holding under kelp paddies in the same areas where tuna are being located but it has more often than not been difficult to get the yellowtail and dorado to bite. Further south, boats fishing on long 1 day or on 1.5 day trips out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay have been finding good kelp paddie yellowtail fishing and have also been picking up a few dorado and yellowfin tuna while fishing 75 to 100 miles from Point Loma in the regions of the Lower 500 Bank and the 1140 Finger. The yellowtail being caught in the regions of the 1140 Finger and Lower 500 Bank have been mixed size fish that have been going to 20 pounds.
Boats fishing around the Coronado Islands have been finding good mixed bag fishing for barracuda, yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass. Some of the better trips during the week have returned with limits of yellowtail.
Some sportboat counts from Thursday, July 13, 2017 start with the Liberty out of Fisherman's Landing that had a 3/4 day trip with 20 anglers catch 45 yellowtail, 6 bonito, 1 lingcod, 2 calico bass and 15 barracuda. The Mission Belle out of Point Loma Sportfishing had a 3/4 day trip with 19 anglers catch 68 yellowtail, 13 calico bass, 5 bonito, and 5 barracuda. Seaforth Sportfishing had the San Diego fishing a 3/4 day trip with 29 anglers that caught 32 bonito, 111 yellowtail and 16 barracuda.
The best areas have been the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the South Kelp, the Flats ranging from inside of the Middle Grounds down to inside of the upper part of South Island and while fishing up and down the weather side of North Island.
Most of the action has been coming from stopping on meter marks or sonar marks and action has also been coming while drifting after a trolling strike. Sardines and surface iron are effective for the yellowtail and barracuda. Good jig choices would be Salas 7X lights and Tady 45's in blue and white, sardine and mint colors. Try sardines, anchovies and Megabait/Laser Minnow style jigs for the bonito. The calico bass have been biting best on sardines.
Private boater, Captain Bob Woodard Jr. of the Dropback reported fishing the Coronados on Thursday, July 13, 2017 and catching limits of yellowtail and catching 12 calico bass, most of which were released. Woodard reporting finding his best yellowtail fishing while fishing a short way below and outside of the largest Middle Grounds island. He said they were getting strikes on trolled Rapalas and then drifting and fishing with sardines, surface iron and Dart jigs. Bob said that the larger 8- to 12-pound yellowtail were biting on iron and that the smaller 5- to 6-pound yellowtail were biting the sardines. He said it took longer for them to get a bite with the iron but reported that the payoff was a nicer sized yellowtail.
Woodard also reported excellent calico bass fishing at the Middle Grounds. He said that they released most of the 12 calicos that they caught and that they had 4 calicos that were very nice sized 5- to 7-pound fish.
The surface fishing along the San Diego County Coast has been good for calico bass and rockfish and has also been producing occasional action for bonito, barracuda and yellowtail.
Productive kelp bed areas for calico bass include the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the Jetty Kelp in front of Mission Bay, La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Leucadia, Carlsbad, Yellowtail Kelp, the Barn Kelp and the kelp at San Onofre. A lot of the calico bass being caught continue to be short sized fish that must be released but there have also been some improving numbers of keeper sized fish in the mix. Also look for occasional flurries of yellowtail, bonito and barracuda action in these same kelp bed areas.
Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports "excellent" calico bass fishing while working kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Del Mar. He reports an improved percentage of keeper sized calicos on recent trips and on his most recent trip he estimated that one out of every ten calicos was a keeper sized fish. He had 8 kids and 6 adults fishing that were mostly new to saltwater angling and said that they caught 30 keeper sized calicos and 270 short sized calicos that were released. In addition to the calico bass, Cacciola reports seeing and hooking an occasional yellowtail and says that they regularly see thresher sharks around as well. They also have been catching and releasing quite a few short white seabass and says they seem to hook a big black seabass on most of their trips. He said the last black seabass they hooked was lost in the kelp but says they have been catching and successfully releasing black seabass that have gone to 225 pounds.
The water has been very warm and on their most recent trip they were fishing in 76 degree water. The water color has been an off color green during the morning hours but tends to clean up to a blue green color when the current switches around and runs downhill during the afternoon. Anchovies have been the best bait for the calico bass and Hookup Bait plastics have also been effective in either the 1/2 ounce or 3/8 ounce size. Good color Hookup Baits have been anchovy, sardine and chartreuse.
San Clemente Island has been providing good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, calico bass, bonito and rockfish. The yellowtail have been nice sized fish that have been running from 10 to 30 pounds. Some of the best areas have been fishing spots around and about the Northwest Harbor region and up the front side of the Island in the Gold Bluff and White Rock areas.
Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and most of the squid is being brought over to San Clemente Island from the Salta Verde area at Catalina. At San Clemente Island, places to try and locate some squid to catch for bait might be West Cove and Pyramid Cove.
Catalina Island has been producing flurries of yellowtail action along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish. Along the back side of the Island productive areas have been while fishing off Orange Rocks and Salta Verde. Other productive areas have been Church Rock, the East End Light, Little Gibraltar and Toyon Bay.
Salta Verde and Ben Weston have been areas to catch squid for bait at night. Squid boats have at times been offering squid for sale while anchored up near Avalon. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.
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It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where significant catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at www.976bite.com . Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.