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Private Boater’s Report: San Clemente Island still tops for Bluefin

Published: Sep 12, 2017
Yellows and dorado scattered under paddies

Fishing offshore remains good with bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack, yellowtail and marlin all cooperating for private boaters. The fishing at the Coronado Islands is excellent for yellowtail and a mix of bonito and calico bass along with a chance at a bluefin. The San Diego County coast saw the surface fishing slip a bit, but the fishing along the coast was still producing a mix of calico bass, bonito, yellowtail and rockfish.

San Clemente Island is the current bluefin hotspot with some 25- to 100-plus-pound models and some 20- to 30-pound yellowtail biting for boats fishing in 40 to 50 fathoms off Pyramid Head. There are also some of the larger bluefin to 200 pounds biting for boats fishing to the south of the 86 Fathom Spot outside of China Point.

The bluefin have been biting best on sardines, and there have also been a few biting on Flat-Fall jigs. Boats fishing the larger bluefin in the area to the south of the 86 Fathom Spot are also seeing some bluefin action on the kite-trolled Yummee Flyers.

Early in the week, big bluefin were biting for boats fishing on the anchor at the 43 Fathom Spot. Private boater John Carroll of theHuachinango reported fishing a 2.5-day trip aboard the Islander out of Fisherman’s Landing that hit the 43 when the bluefin were hot. He said they had very good fishing on the first day of the trip, and they caught 26 big bluefin on the day. The fish ranged in size from 70 to 155 pounds and Carroll personally caught bluefin that weighed 116 and 134 pounds. Carroll was fishing with his friends Gary Mouritzen and Justen Brown, and they also caught jumbo bluefin with Justen Brown catching the jackpot fish on the trip which went 155. The bluefin were caught on sardines on the anchor at the 43. Their second day of fishing was the day the bite at the 43 dried up, and they eventually went over to San Clemente Island where they caught some smaller bluefin tuna to finish up what was a fine trip.

There has been some fair action on kelp-paddy yellowtail and dorado along with a few skipjack biting for boats fishing some of the offshore banks in the San Diego region within 30 miles or so of Point Loma. Some productive areas have been the 224 Spot, 302 Spot and the area of the Mexico Border between the end of the Ridge and the Corner. There has also been a chance at finding some dorado or yellowtail under kelp paddies found between the 43 Fathom Spot and Pyramid Head at San Clemente Island. The kelp paddy fishing has slowed in the Catalina region but there is still a chance at scratching out a dorado or yellowtail in the region of the 267 Spot, 209 Spot, 277 Spot, the Slide or the 181 Spot.

Yellowfin tuna have been scattered around in various areas. Heading into the weekend, the region of the 277 Spot off the East End of Catalina was producing some yellowfin, but that bite slowed over the weekend.

The current zones that are producing yellowfin are in the area of the Mexico border between the end of the Ridge and the Corner, the 224 Spot, the 371 Bank and the area below the 238 Spot at the Inner Bank which is located below and outside of Ensenada. The yellowfin at the 277 Spot were the nicer sized 25- to 40-pound fish, and the yellowfin biting in these other areas have been mostly in the 4- to 18-pound range.

Boats fishing for striped marlin have been finding biters while working the high spots above the West End of Catalina such as the 125, 286, 172, 175 and 17 Fathom Spot with most of the action coming from the regions of the 286 and 125. My estimation is there were 6 to 7 marlin caught and released from these areas over the weekend.

Other productive areas where there has been some scattered marlin activity around Catalina have been the Farnsworth Bank, the Palisades, the 152 Spot, the 277 Spot, the Slide, the Avalon Bank and the area 1 to 3 miles outside of Avalon. My estimation is that there were two marlin caught and released from these areas over the weekend.

Marlin fishing has been slow in the San Diego region. Captain Maurice Smith of the Dos Hermanos passed along a report from his brother, Chuck Smith of the Sea Trek IV, who fished for marlin on Saturday. Maurice said that Chuck had a marlin come up and hit a jig while trolling in the region of the 178 Spot above the upper end of the 9 Mile Bank. They got their drop back baits to the fish behind the boat but the marlin refused to cooperate. That was their only action of the day.

Private boater Fred Larson of the Squared Away was out looking for marlin in the San Diego area on Saturday. They had no luck with the marlin but did make an exotic catch in catching a shortbill spearfish. They had 2 or 3 shortbills behind the boat hitting their jigs, got one to stick, and Larson was successful in making the exotic catch.

Fred Larson’s shortbill spearfish was the second one I had news of being caught over the weekend with another being caught by a boat fishing for marlin around the East End of Catalina. Captain Maurice Smith reported he has heard news of at least a dozen shortbill spearfish being caught this season.

The fishing around the Coronado Islands has been very good for yellowtail along with a mix of bonito, calico bass and an occasional bluefin tuna. The yellowtail have been mixed-size fish that go from 4 to 20 pounds.

Current productive areas for yellowtail are the Flats, the Middle Grounds, the north end of South Island, the weather side of North Island and the lee side of North Island.

Captain Billy of Bill Fish Sportfishing and the 6-pack charter yacht Tailblazen and the 4-pack charter boat E Fish N Sea reported about fishing a ¾-day trip to the Coronados aboard the Tailblazen on Saturday. He said that they tried the Flats in the morning and had no luck with the yellowtail and caught just one bonito before heading out to the Islands.

When they went over to the Islands, Captain Billy fished the Middle Grounds and caught some bonito before having bluefin tuna through. They had action on the bluefin and caught two 15 pounders that bit sardines. Captain Billy said they had 2 other hook-ups which he thought to be bluefin that came unbuttoned and were lost.

They also had a 15-pound yellowtail hooked at the Middle Grounds, but that fish was stolen by a seal.

The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been producing a mix of yellowtail, bonito, barracuda, rockfish and calico bass. The surface fishing along the coast has been slipping a bit in recent days though as there has been a general cooling of the water and some off-color water moving around.

The Point Loma Kelp Beds are providing some mixed-bag action for bonito, calico bass, barracuda, rockfish and an occasional yellowtail. The best kelp bed areas have been the Dropoff above the Point Loma Lighthouse as well as kelp bed spots outside of the Green Tank and Point Loma College.

The fishing at the upper end of La Jolla is providing a mix of bonito, calico bass, rockfish and yellowtail. The upper end of La Jolla has been best while working the kelp stringer area of Northwest and the area of the main kelp beds outside of the Hotel.

Most of the action is coming while sitting on the anchor or while drift fishing. Private boaters might also want to try slow trolling sardines or trolling Rapalas for bonito or yellowtail.

The Ridge area outside of Del Mar is continuing to produce some bonito and yellowtail. Try looking for yellowtail meter marks to fish in 14 to 20 fathoms of water.



PRIVATE BOATER GRANT Morgan spent 26 hours on his boat after going to SCI and back at 8 knots due to an issue with his starboard engine, but he had this to show for his determination. PHOTO FROM STAYSALTYSANDIEGO on Instagram

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