|We are fast approaching the end of October, and the offshore fishing picture remains stable and strong as there are bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, yellowtail, skipjack and striped marlin biting. Water temperatures remain in the 69.5- to 70.5- degree range in most areas, and the warm-water species have been content to remain in local waters with the current water conditions.
The bluefin bite at San Clemente Island dropped off last week but it rallied some over the weekend with better numbers of the larger 100-pound and bigger fish being seen and caught. The bite is not up to the level of 2 to 3 weeks ago, but the chance of catching a big bluefin has improved over the fishing present a week ago. The best area for a chance at one of the 100-plus pound bluefin is in the region of the 86 Fathom Spot, and the bluefin have been caught on kite-trolled Yummee Flyers, Flat-Fall jigs and sardines. There have also been a few of the 20- to 35-pound bluefin biting with some yellowtail for boats fishing at Desperation Reef and outside of Lost Point.
Guide Gerry Mahieu found a lot of big bluefin mixed in with footballs but the wind wouldn’t to cooperate for the kite, but he found excellent conditions for calico fishing and caught plenty of 3 pounders on weedless plastics and Daiwa hardbaits.
The Tanner Bank has been providing some very good fishing for 20- to 30-pound yellowtail. Tom Golding of the Last Buck fished there and said the three anglers aboard caught 11 yellowtail over 25 pounds. These big yellows were often hard to keep away from the rocks when hooked, and they lost several hookups that way. Golding reported catching their fish on Sumo 6X yo-yo jigs and said the dorado pattern were working best. The yellowtail showed little interest live bait. The best action was reported to have been found while fishing in 130 feet of water to the north of the high spot at the Tanner Bank.
Yellowfin tuna have been biting in areas ranging from the Mackerel Bank inside of San Clemente Island on down to the offshore banks below and outside of Ensenada. In more northern waters, the bite has been scratchy, but there have been a few yellowfin biting for boats fishing spots such as the Mackerel Bank, the 277, the 267, the 209 and the 312 Spot.
The best of the yellowfin fishing has been in the San Diego region where there have been some limit catches reported along with a mix of dorado, yellowtail and skipjack. Productive areas have been the 224, 302, 371, 425 Bank, 475 Knuckle, Upper Hidden Bank, 385 Spot, 400 Spot and 238 Spot. Kelp paddies, spots of breezing fish, trolling strikes, porpoise schools, meter marks and sonar marks have all been leading to yellowfin tuna. Cedar plugs, feathers, Rapalas and Halcos have been working on the troll. The yellowfin are mostly 6- to 15-pound fish with some 20- to 60-pound class yellowfin caught while fishing around porpoise.
Captain Bob Woodard Jr. of the Dropback was out fishing aboard boat Legasea, and they found a wide-open dorado bite on a kelp paddie 2.5 miles west of the 224 Spot. Woodard said the dorado were running from 10 to 14 pounds, and they were easily able to catch their limits before leaving biting fish to move on. They found the hot dorado paddy at about 25 miles, 235 degrees from Point Loma.
Captain Brandon Killian of the 6-pack charter yacht Prime Time with Prime Time Sportfishing fished an overnight trip to the 238 Spot and reported finding excellent kelp-paddie fishing for yellowfin tuna, dorado and yellowtail. He said they easily limited out and left biting fish to head for home. The 238 Spot is located 65 miles, 166 degrees from Point Loma.
Striped marlin have been biting in the Catalina region and above. There were what I estimate to be 2 or 3 marlin caught and released over the weekend by boats fishing around the East End in the area between the 125 and the 277 Spot. The best fishing was up off the West End of Catalina for boats working around the 125, 175 and 172 Spot. The marlin fishing in the San Diego region has been scratchy with an occasional encounter being reported incidental to fishing for tuna at spots such as the 425 Bank, 302 Spot, 371 Bank and 475 Knuckle.
The fishing at the Coronado Islands turned very good with a mix of big bonito, nice-sized yellowtail and 18 to 35 pound bluefin tuna biting. The best area for a mix of all three species has been the Rockpile with action also being reported at areas such as Tuna Rock, the tuna pens inside of South Island, the north end of South Island, the Middle Grounds and the Keyhole area at the south end of North Island.
Craig Boegler of the Gooey Duck fished at the Coronados on Thursday and reported finding excellent fishing on big bonito, big yellowtail and 18- to 20-pound bluefin. The bonito ranged in size from 4 to 9 pounds, and the bluefin they boated went 18 to 20 pounds, and there were some bigger bluefin that were hooked and lost. The yellowtail were also nice-sized fish and were running from 11 to 20 pounds. They caught and released a lot of bonito while fishing at the north end of South Island and kept a few in the cooler. The area where they found the best fishing was at the Rockpile where bonito, yellowtail and bluefin were biting on slow-trolled sardines. In addition to lots of bonito, they also caught 3 bluefin and 15 yellowtail. In addition to the three bluefin that they boated, they lost 10 additional bluefin to fish that bit through the 25- to 40-pound-test line they were using before they could get them to the boat. Boegler called it an epic day of fishing that will not be forgotten.
Captain Bob Fletcher of the Fletch was out fishing the Coronados with Captain Louie Zimm on Sunday aboard Zimm’s boat Shearwater. Fletcher said they had a fun day of fishing and caught lots of big bonito which they released along with three bluefin tuna and a nice-sized yellowtail.
Fletcher said they started their day of fishing at the Rockpile where they found 70-degree, blue water. In the early morning there was very little current flow, and the big bonito were biting but there was not much else going on. The current started to pick up at around 8 a.m., and he said that the fishing for bluefin and yellowtail sparked with the increased current. They were slow trolling sardines and picked up a couple 18-pound bluefin. They also lost a third bluefin to a pulled hook. In addition to the two bluefin, they also caught a nice-sized yellowtail that bit while they were drifting with sardines. They worked the Rockpile area until 11:30 a.m. when the bite slowed.
Their next move was to the South Kelp Ridge and the 5 Minute Kelp areas below South Island where they found the fishing to be slow. They also tried slow trolling at the Tuna Rock area in the lee of South Island where they found some bonito biting and also caught the biggest fish of the trip in what Fletcher was estimating to be a 22- to 23-pound bluefin tuna. Fletcher said they were thrilled with their catch and that they headed for home early in the day!
The highlight fishing along the San Diego area coast has been for yellowtail and bonito which have been biting well for boats fishing a short way above the Mexico border at the Imperial Beach Flats. Kelp paddies, trolling strikes, spots of breezing fish, sonar marks and meter marks have all been leading to action. Slow-trolled sardines have also been working well for private boaters.
Private boater Al Church of the Someday Is Now reported fishing the Imperial Beach Flats on Friday and having a good day of fishing in catching limits of big bonito and 6 yellowtail. Church said they were locating fish by getting trolling strikes and from stopping on kelp paddies and called it good, fun fishing.
SMALL BOAT GUIDE Gerry Mahieu oves fall fishing for its great weather paired with minimal boat traffic to go along with plenty of fish still around. Here he is with a chunky San Clemente Island calico that fell for a Daiwa hardbait.
MONDO BUG! — Young Riley Shaw hauled up this lobster nearly his size in Long Beach on opening night the season after swearing that the pot was stuck on the bottom.