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Private Boater’s Report: All offshore and inshore cylinders firing for private boaters

Published: Aug 22, 2017
Fishing offshore throughout Southern California and northern Baja is still solid. There were big bluefin tuna biting out by San Clemente Island and outside of Encinitas, there were kelp-paddy yellowtail and dorado biting well at some of the offshore banks below of San Diego and there were yellowfin tuna making some showings in various offshore areas as well. Those chasing striped marlin found good action up above the West End of Catalina while fishing the regions around and between the 172 Spot and the 175 Spot.

In addition to the offshore stuff, there was outstanding fishing in other areas with bluefin tuna, yellowtail and bonito biting around the Coronado Islands and with bonito, yellows and calico bass biting in spots along the coast.


BLUEFIN MOVED IN a little tighter to the coast over the past week in some spots, and Saltwater Bass Series Tournament Director Gerry Mahieu found a few nice spots of fish, connecting with some quality 100- to 150-pound fish like this 135 that fell for a Yummee Flyer under the kite.


The bluefin out at San Clemente Island continue to hold around Desperation Reef, the 81 Fathom Spot, the 86 Fathom Spot, the 381 Spot and the area to the northwest of the 86 Fathom Spot. At times during the week there were showings of bluefin for boats working spots around the West End of San Clemente Island such as the area outside of West Cove and to the north of the West End.

Kite-trolled Yummee Flyers have been working well for the bluefin along with drifted mackerel, live squid and yo-yo’d Flat-Fall jigs. Poppers and surface iron can also be effective if you can get them to spots of breaking fish before they sound. The bluefin have been running from 40 to 300 pounds with most of the bluefin falling within the 120- to 200-pound range.

All Harbors Charters Guide Gerry Mahieu told WON the week of Aug. 14 brought somewhat of a slow down to local yellowtail and dorado paddy-fishing as a warm water bubble pushed up and out over Catalina, those that fished SBI areas did continue with the catching though. As luck would have it, those big bluefin did fill in with some incredible local fishing. Spots like the 209 / 312 and 277 produced really well with some boats catching up to 4 of these bruisers over the 100lb mark. Some of these were caught on poppers while the majority were caught on the kite and Yummee Flyer combo.

“I stayed with a school for hours all by myself, landing, losing and watching these beautiful fish do their thing,” said Mahieu. “Our best weighed in at 135 for the week. All Harbors Charters has been booked solid, providing some great fishing for those venturing out.” You can visit his site at

There continues to be a chance at finding biting dorado and yellowtail from kelp paddies found from the Catalina Channel on down to the offshore waters outside of Ensenada, and there is a chance at picking up a yellowfin throughout this expanse of water as well. The fishing up in the Catalina region has turned scratchy though, with the best of the action being found in the offshore waters outside of San Diego at spots such as the 9 Mile Bank, 182 Spot, 138 Spot, and 224 Spot.

Private boater Eric Noyes of the Reel Noyes reported about fishing kelp paddies in the area of the 385 Spot outside of Ensenada on Thursday. He said they found very good dorado fishing with action to be had on every kelp paddy they found while fishing around the 385 Spot outside of Ensenada and while working their way from the 385 back up toward San Diego. He said the paddies stopped producing once they got above 3200 latitude line outside of the 475 Knuckle.

What could be a sign of some great late-season action to come is a report from Captain Scott Meisel of the Condor out of Fisherman’s Landing who reported they were out on a weekend 2.5-day trip and found excellent fishing for dorado, yellowtail and yellowfin while fishing between 95 and 115 miles from Point Loma in the area below the Double 220 Bank and the 295 Bank. He had just finished up the second day of fishing at the time of his report and was estimating that they had between 200 and 300 mixed fish. All species were running in the 4- to 10-pound range, and they were finding action from kelp paddies, trolling strikes and sonar marks.



AFTER HAVING 6 fish come off, Lorenz Busch finally got this 150-pound bluefin to stick while fishing just 10 miles off Encinitas this past Friday, Aug. 18. Busch was soaking a live mackerel on a circle hook on 40-pound test.

The striped marlin fishing picked up over the weekend with some good action being found by boats fishing the regions around and between the 175 and the 172 above the West End of Catalina. My estimate is that there were 8 marlin caught and released by boats that were fishing that sector over the weekend. There was also a bit of marlin activity outside of Ben Weston, at the Avalon Bank, between the Coronados and the Kidney Bank and at the 9 Mile Bank.

Private boater Ray Millman of the Go the Distance reported catching and releasing a marlin while fishing a short way below the 371 Bank. He said the fish bit a Coggins blue and pink jig. The fish was caught and released by 18-year-old Austin Wakefield who was on his first offshore fishing trip.

The fishing at the Coronado Islands has been excellent with most of the recent ¾-day sportboat trips returning with catches that include near limits to limits of yellowtail. There is also a good mix of bonito, bluefin and calico bass biting. Most of the yellowtail are in the 5- to 10-pound class with some bigger fish that go to 20 pounds. The bluefin have been running from 10 to 40 pounds and the bonito are mixed-sized fish to 10 pounds.

WON staff writer Jim Niemiec, fished aboard California Dawn on Thursday, Aug. 17, and reported stopping on a single kelp about 40 miles southwest of Point Loma for full boat limits of small- to medium-sized dorado, some of which were completely full of eggs. Niemiec reported great conditions and very good water, but also a lack of tuna presence in the area.

The Flats area outside of the Bull Ring is a good yellowtail zone, and there are yellowtail and bluefin biting for boats fishing spots around and below the south tip of South Island such as the Lighthouse, the 5-Minute Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge. Other productive yellowtail areas have been the weather side of North Island, the north end of South Island and the Ribbon Kelp inside of South Island.

Private boater John Carroll of the Huachinango fished the Coronados on Sunday and reported good action on bluefin tuna and yellowtail. They found a mix of yellowtail and bluefin biting at the South Kelp Ridge. They also found good yellowtail action while fishing at the north end of South Island. The yellowtail they were catching at the South Kelp Ridge and at the north end of South Island were the 5- to 8-pound fish. Their highlight came from the Ribbon Kelp in the lee of South Island where they found good action on the larger-sized yellowtail to 20 pounds.

Private boater Captain Bob Woodard of the Christina Lynn reported about fishing the Coronados on Thursday. He said they had a fun day of fishing in catching and keeping 15 of the 10- to 12-pound yellowtail and catching and releasing about 25 of the 5- to 6-pound forkies. In addition to the yellowtail action they also caught a halibut and a bluefin tuna.

They had four bluefin hookups but three of the four were lost to the seals. The bluefin they caught was an 8-pound fish and one of the bluefin that was lost was a considerably larger 40-pound fish. Woodard reported they found their best action while fishing within a mile of the south tip of South Island while at the Lighthouse and at the 5-Minute Kelp.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good for calico bass and has also been producing good action for bonito and yellowtail. Kelp bed areas have been the best for the calicos with the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the La Jolla Kelp beds, the kelp beds between Del Mar and Leucadia and the Barn Kelp, San Onofre and Point San Mateo producing good numbers of calico bass. The best area for the yellowtail and bonito has been while fishing the Flats above the Mexico Border off Imperial Beach. There has also been improved bonito and yellowtail activity at La Jolla, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad, the Barn, San Onofre and Point San Mateo.

The bonito and yellowtail fishing at the Flats off Imperial Beach has been producing near-limit to limit numbers of both species, and the action has been found in a variety of ways. Skippers have been locating fish by getting trolling strikes, sonar marks, meter marks or by stopping on spots of breezing fish. Once located, they have been drifting on the spots of fish and anglers have been catching the bonito and yellowtail on sardines and surface iron.

Captain Billy of the 6-pack charter yacht All Paid, the 6-pack charter yacht Tailblazen and the 4-pack charter boat E Fish N Sea fished an extended half-day trip aboard All Paid on Saturday and reported excellent action on bonito and yellowtail while fishing along the Mexico border outside of Imperial Beach. He said they caught about 20 yellowtail that were in the 5- to 8-pound range along with lots of bonito. He said the bonito were in two size groups with one group being in the 4-pound class and the other being up in the 8-pound class.

Captain Billy reported they were getting trolling strikes and that they would stop and drift and catch baitfish after getting one. He said the bait in San Diego Bay was great and that they were fishing with healthy bright-green 4- to 6-inch sardines.

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