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Private Boater’s Report: Tuna counts not representative of offshore biomass

Published: Jun 20, 2017
The past week of fishing saw bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail once again providing offshore action. The bluefin and yellowfin have been around in better numbers than what the fish counts might indicate as there have been lots of spots of breaking and breezing fish seen that more often than not do not want to cooperate and bite.

The bluefin are mixed in size and are running from 20- to 200-plus pounds. The bluefin numbers dropped over the weekend with a good number of fish being seen on Saturday but with lesser numbers of fish being seen on Sunday. Bluefin have been biting on kite-trolled Yummy Flyers, sardines, mackerel, cedar plugs, Rapalas and Halco 130s. but divers have done the best with their spear guns. The bluefin have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breaking, breezing or puddling fish. A good indicator of a zone that might be holding bluefin is where you might see shearwater birds or tern birds that are diving and picking on the surface of the water.


The yellowfin tuna have for the most part been running from 15 to 40 pounds, but there are reports of some 40- to 70-pound yellowfin being seen in some of the spots of breaking fish. Cedar plugs have been working best for yellowfin which have also been biting sardines, Rapalas and Halco 130s. The yellowfin have been found by locating sonar marks, meter marks, porpoise schools and spots of breaking, puddling or breezing fish.


The yellowtail have been biting on sardines fished around kelp paddies and have been running from 5 to 25 pounds.


There are a lot of bluefin and yellowfin seen most every day, but it has not been easy to get them to bite. The most-recent sportboat counts are from trips that fished on what was kind of a down day on Sunday, June 18. The Liberty out of Fisherman’s Landing was fishing a ¾-day trip with 12 anglers that caught 2 yellowfin. Point Loma Sportfishing had the Mission Belle out fishing a three-quarter day trip with 13 anglers that caught 1 yellowfin tuna. Seaforth Sportfishing had a ¾-day trip on the San Diego that had 27 anglers catch 1 yellowfin tuna.


The expanse of areas where the bluefin and yellowfin have been spotted has been widespread. Tuna have been reported seen around the 14 Mile Bank, 277 Spot, 209 Spot, 181 Spot, 289 Spot, 8 to 12 miles off the coast between San Onofre and Carlsbad, the La Jolla Canyon, the 9 Mile Bank, the 182 Spot, 43 Fathom Spot, the Corner, the 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank and out 4 to 8 miles westerly from North Island. The best action has been found in the southerly portion of this expanse while working the regions of the 302 Spot, 371 Bank and out 4 to 8 miles westerly from North Island.


Private boater Tom Golding of the Last Buck reported fishing on Saturday, June 17, 2017 and catching a 20-pound yellowfin tuna. It was their only tuna bite on the day and came on a popper cast to a spot of breezing fish that they found at 7:30 a.m. while fishing around the 302 Spot at 22 miles 223 degrees from Point Loma. Golding said they saw 3 other spots of tuna during the day but could not get them to bite. He said they also stopped on a lot of nice looking kelp paddies that were empty except for one paddy that was holding a few small yellowtail that did not want to bite.


Private boater Mike Seymour of the Sea Section reported fishing on Friday, June 16, 2017 and reported seeing a lot of spots of breaking yellowfin tuna and a swordfish while working the region of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank. While fishing out to the west of North Island he reported finding a kelp paddie that produced a couple of 6-pound yellowtail. The rest of their day was spent working the area from the 224 Spot on out to the Corner with a kite trolled Yummy Flyer trying for bluefin. The report from the 224 Spot area out to the Corner was that things were quiet out that way. Seymour reported that the two 6-pound yellowtail made their day in that they were caught by his special guests from the east coast. The yellows were caught by Seymour’s son-in-law, Mike Elliston and Elliston’s wife, Yasinia.


Reports coming from the Coronado Islands are of some fun mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, bonito, barracuda and calico bass. Much of the fishing is being done while sitting on the anchor and productive areas have been the Ribbon Kelp, the north end of South Island, the area inside of the Middle Grounds rocks and the Middle Grounds proper. Sardines and iron have been working well for the fish at the Coronados. Good choices for iron for the yellowtail and barracuda are Tady 45’s and Salas 7X lights in blue and white, sardine and mint colors. Try Megabait and Laser Minnow style iron for the bonito.


The surface fishing along the San Diego County coast has been good with lots of calico bass biting along with a sprinkling of barracuda, bonito and an occasional yellowtail. Kelp bed areas have been the best with spots at the Point Loma Kelp Beds, the La Jolla Kelp beds, the kelp beds between Del Mar and Carlsbad and the kelp at San Onofre and the Barn all producing good numbers of calico bass. The La Jolla and Point Loma Kelp Bed areas have been best for the additional mixture of a chance at some barracuda, bonito or yellowtail action. Sardines and anchovies have been working well for bait.


Private boater Mike Seymour of the Sea Section reported fishing the Point Loma Kelp Beds on Saturday and finding excellent fishing for calico bass. He said they caught and released about 50 legal sized calicos that ranged in size to 18 inches. Seymour found this action while fishing in 60 to 65 feet of water by the kelp outside of the Green Tank and said that most every bait cast into the water got a bite from a calico bass.


Private boater Bill Parker of the Cabo fished out of Oceanside on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 and reported about the trip. He said they got some great anchovies for bait at Oceanside and that he ran up toward San Onofre and fished a kelp bed area located about 1 mile below San Onofre. Parker reported wide open calico bass fishing on fish that ranged from 8 to 18 inches and said that every bait that they put in the water resulted in a calico bass bite.


After getting their fill of catching and releasing calico bass, Parker ran off the coast looking for signs of tuna and found an area where he saw a few schools of breaking bluefin tuna about 9 miles outside of San Onofre. Those tuna did not want to bite but they added some extra excitement to the day.


Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports very good calico bass action while fishing kelp bed areas between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. He reports that they have been regularly catching between 5 percent and 10 percent keeper sized calico bass with the rest being short sized fish that must be released. Most of their catch has been made up of calico bass and on a recent trip they also picked up a warm water exotic in catching a triggerfish.


Cacciola reports that they have been fishing with great bait from Oceanside Harbor in recent weeks and said reported regularly having strong 4- to 4.5-inch anchovies in their bait supply. The calico bass have been biting very well on the anchovies and he says the calicos have also been biting well on 3⁄8-ounce Hookup Bait plastics in the anchovy and the anchovy sparkle colors (gray and black.) The water has been green but has been warm and was 69 degrees on the day of his report.


San Clemente Island has been providing some yellowtail and white seabass action to go along with a nice mix of calico bass, bonito and rockfish. The yellowtail have been running from 10 to 30 pounds and most of the white seabass have been in the 20-pound class.


The best yellowtail and white seabass areas have been along the back side of the Island. Much of the squid activity at San Clemente


Island has been at the West Cove and Runway areas and this is a zone that has been producing the best yellowtail and white seabass action. Boats have also been fishing for white seabass and yellowtail at spots outside of Northwest Harbor and along the ridge areas between China Point and Pyramid Cove. Along the front side of the Island there has been more of a mixed bag catch of calico bass, bonito, barracuda and yellowtail for boats working spots such as Gold Bluff, White Rock and Purse Seine Rock.


Catalina Island has been producing occasional flurries of yellowtail and white seabass action along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish. One of the best yellowtail areas has been while fishing off Salta Verde and there have been a few white seabass biting in this zone as well. Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and white seabass. Look for more of a mixed bag catch of the barracuda, bonito, calico bass and yellowtail while fishing spots along the middle part of the front side of the Island.


There continues to be squid to be caught for bait at night at San Clemente Island at West Cove. There has also been a chance at finding some squid in Pyramid Cove. The best zone for squid catching has been at Catalina while fishing off Ben Weston. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.




PRIVATE BOATER Mike Hanson and his son, Sean, were fishing aboard their boat Mako My Day when Sean connected with a personal-best yellowtail on the backside squid grounds. Sean fought the 35 pounder for 10 minutes on 25-pound test, and he had already popped a 26-pound yellow earlier that day. Dad had to “settle” for a 12-pound halibut.

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