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Private Boater's Report: Bluefin are bigger for ’17, as billed

Published: Jun 13, 2017

Long battles, many of them losing battles; yellowfin moving in on jigs and live bait under paddies

 The past week of fishing saw bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail providing offshore action and there was even a report of a dorado being caught from a kelp paddie by the 425 Bank outside of the Coronado Islands. The bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna are around in better numbers than what the fish counts might indicate as there are lots of spots of breaking fish to be seen that more often than not do not want to cooperate and bite.


A good thing about the tuna fishing for private boaters is that the bluefin started to bite better on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. It was to the point where both private boats and sportboats were trolling around with the kite trolled Yummy Flyers over the weekend. The bluefin tuna are mixed size fish and are running from 20 to 200+ pounds. The weekend saw several of the jumbo sized bluefin being caught on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. One private boater was reporting that his bluefin taped out at around 240 pounds via the fish weight measurement formula.


At midweek there were some 100- to 120-pound class bluefin biting between the 289 Spot and the area off the Slide at Catalina for boats fishing spots of breaking fish with poppers but for the most part, the best fishing was found in Mexican waters for boats fishing areas such as the 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 371 Bank and 4 to 8 miles out to the west and southwest of North Island. There were also some yellowfin tuna biting outside of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank and a few yellowfin tuna were also caught by boats fishing kelp paddies for yellowtail in the offshore waters below and outside of Ensenada. They were finding action in the region of the 450 Spot and while fishing the area inside of the Lower 500 Bank.


There are a lot of bluefin and yellowfin seen most every day but it has not been easy to get them to bite. Sportboat counts from trips that fished on Sunday, June 11, 2017 saw a bit of improvement and start with the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing that had a 3/4 day trip with 17 anglers catch 7 bluefin tuna and 3 yellowfin tuna. Fisherman's Landing had the Liberty out fishing a 3/4 day trip that returned with 7 bluefin tuna and 1 yellowfin tuna. Fisherman's Landing also had the Pacific Queen fishing an overnight trip with 30 anglers that caught 3 bluefin tuna.


The bluefin have been running from 20 to 200 pounds with most in the 20- to 35-pound range. The few yellowfin tuna that have been biting have been mostly 20 to 40 pound fish. The kelp paddie yellowtail have been running from 5 to 25 pounds. Some of the bluefin have been biting from stopping on sonar marks, meter marks and spots of breaking or puddling fish but the past couple of days have seen more and more bluefin and a few yellowfin biting on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers. A good indicator of a zone that might be holding bluefin tuna is where you might see shearwater birds or see tern birds that are diving and picking on the surface of the water. In addition to bluefin and yellowfin caught on the kite trolled Yummy Flyers there is also an occasional bluefin or yellowfin caught on a trolled cedar plug or a trolled Halco 130 jig in the purple tiger stripe color.


Private boater Craig Boegler of the Gooey Duck reported hooking an estimated 200+ pound bluefin tuna while fishing on the inside edge of the 302 Spot on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. He said they hooked the jumbo sized bluefin on a sardine that they fished around a group of working tern birds. They fought the big bluefin for 4.5 hours and never got close to getting it before it wore out the line and was lost.


Boegler caught bluefin that were in excess of 100 pounds last season and said that they got a good look at this fish when it once surfaced abeam of the boat. He estimated this fish to be well in excess of 200 pounds. He said they had the fish hooked on a Torium 16 reel and a Terez rod with 40-pound test top shot and braid. He said that the rod and reel held up well but that the fish was just too big to have much of a chance at catching it with 40-pound test. It was a heartbreak to loose such a big fish after a 4.5 hour battle but they tipped their hat in respect to the great fish that won the long battle.


There are not many reports coming from the Coronado Islands but there was a sportboat trip that recently fished the Coronados and returned with a good mixed bag catch of bonito, calico bass, yellowtail and rockfish. The best areas for surface fishing during the spring season have been the weather side of North Island, the South Kelp and the Lighthouse at the south tip of South Island.


The surface fishing along the San Diego County coast has been improving with cleaner and warmer water moving in along much of the coast. Imperial Beach has seen improved water conditions and private boater Captain Bob Woodard of the Christina Lynn reported about fishing for halibut off Imperial Beach on Sunday morning, June 11, 2017. He said they spent about 4 hours giving it a try and reported no luck with the halibut. They did catch a couple of barracuda and a couple of sand bass and caught and released a small thresher shark. After trying Imperial Beach they fished around the Zuniga Jetty near the entrance to San Diego Bay and caught and released a small halibut and a sculpin.


A lot of the fishing effort out of San Diego Bay and Mission Bay has been focused on the Point Loma Kelp Beds where there are occasional showings of yellowtail out in the 18 to 30 fathom depths for boats fishing from the Whistler Buoy on up to the Jetty Kelp outside of Mission Bay. In along the edges of the kelp, there is a nice mix of calico bass and rockfish biting along with a few barracuda. A lot of the calico bass and barracuda are short sized fish but there have also been some legal sized fish in the mix.


The water at La Jolla has cleaned up and warmed up but a lot of Skippers have been choosing to fish the Point Loma Kelp Beds over La Jolla. Look for some calico bass to be biting in the kelp beds at La Jolla and for a chance at finding yellowtail while fishing the area of Northwest outside of the upper end of La Jolla. The fishing for rockfish has been good at the 270 to the west of Mission Bay and also has been good at the ridge areas outside of Del Mar.


Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reports that they have had good fishing for a mix of calico bass, sand bass, short sized barracuda (that are released) and an assortment of bottom fish while working kelp bed areas and hard bottom spots between Carlsbad and Solana Beach. He reports much improved water conditions in the region with clean green 63 to 66 degree water.


As an example of the recent fishing, Cacciola talked about a three-quarter day trip where they had a catch of 25 keeper sized bass, 200+ short sized bass that were released along with a mix of a few sheephead and rockfish. He says they have also regularly been catching and releasing short sized white seabass and said they recently caught and released a big black seabass. Cacciola also reports seeing thresher sharks incidental to fishing for the calico bass along the edges of the kelp.


The kelp is reported to be growing on hard bottom areas out to about 50 feet of water but the kelp goes away once you are fishing much deeper. The calico bass have been biting best while fishing the kelp areas. Cacciola reports the calicos to be biting well on anchovies, 3/8 ounce size Hookup Bait plastics and B-52 buck tail jigs. The best color Hookup Bait plastic was reported to be the anchovy color and the green and yellow color combination has also been effective.


San Clemente Island has been providing good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, calico bass, bonito and rockfish. Also look for a chance at a white seabass in Pyramid Cove and West Cove. The yellowtail have been running from 10 to 30 pounds and most of the white seabass have been in the 20-pound class.


Productive areas have been while fishing along the ridge between Pyramid Cove and China Point as well as fishing off Eel Point, Purse Seine Rock, White Rock and Gold Bluff. Much of the squid activity has been at the West Cove and Pyramid Cove areas and the squid areas have also produced some yellowtail and white seabass.


Catalina Island has been producing occasional flurries of yellowtail and white seabass action along with a mix of calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish. Along the front side of the Island, productive areas have been around the Isthmus and Johnson's Rock and at spots around the middle part of the front side of the Island. Along the back side of the Island, try the stretch between China Point and Ben Weston and Freddie's Beach.


Live squid has been the best bait for the yellowtail and white seabass with the Ben Weston area producing some squid at night. Try to raise the squid boats on VHF channels 72 and 11.

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