Bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail, barracuda and Calico bass provide anglers with lots of options


SAN DIEGO—The calendar tells us that summer arrived on June 20 and the beginning of summer has been offering saltwater anglers lots of fine choices that include bluefin, yellowfin, yellowtail, barracuda, bonito and calico bass. There is good fun fishing to target be it offshore, at the Islands or along the coast.

The offshore fishing grounds ranging from the waters off San Diego on down to the waters outside of San Martin Island have been producing 20 to 200-plus pound bluefin tuna and 12- to 60-pound yellowfin tuna to go with some 10- to 20-pound yellowtail and a few dorado. The better days of fishing have been highlighted by near limit to limit numbers of bluefin tuna but the bite has been off from those levels the past couple of days.

The best areas in recent days have been while fishing the region to the southwest of the 43 Fathom Spot, the area of the 1000 fathom trench located between the San Salvador Knoll and the 390 Bank, the Lower Hidden Bank, the Upper 500 Bank, the 385 Spot outside of Ensenada, the offshore waters outside of Punta Colnett and the offshore waters outside of San Martin Island. More local offshore banks within 30 miles or so of Point Loma such as the 182 Spot, 9 Mile Bank, 224 Spot, 302 Spot, 425 Bank and 371 Bank are producing fair fishing with an occasional tuna being caught along with a few yellowtail that have been biting around some of the kelp paddies.

Bluefin tuna have been biting on kite fished drifted frozen flying fish, kite trolled Yummy Flyers, flylined and sinker fished sardines and Flat Fall jigs. Meter marks and sonar marks lead to most of the bluefin action with yellowfin being caught from meter marks, sonar marks, kelp paddies, porpoise schools and trolling strikes. Flylined sardines have been best for the yellowfin with Rapalas, cedar plugs and feathers also bringing the occasional yellowfin trolling strikes.

The offshore yellowtail have been biting around kelp paddies and have been surprisingly nice sized fish with a good percentage being up in the 15- to 20-pound range. Most of the dorado have been found around kelp paddies and have been in the 5- to 12-pound range.

Los Coronado Islands have been a hotspot and have been providing very good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, calico bass, barracuda, bonito and rockfish.  Some of the better sportboat catches have included near limit to limit catches of yellowtail. The best zone has been fishing spots inside of South Island in an area ranging from the Ribbon Kelp in the lee of South Island on down to the South Kelp and the South Kelp Ridge below South Island. Today there are reports of yellowtail biting at the Rockpile as well.

The yellowtail around Los Coronado Islands have been 12- to 25-pound fish and have been biting on flylined sardines, sardines fished on a dropper loop rig, slow trolled sardines, surface iron and yo-yo iron. Slow trolled sardines and flylined drifted sardines tend to be working best for private boaters.


Private boater John Carroll of Huachinango fished a recent morning trip to Los Coronado Islands and reported finding very good mixed bag fishing for yellowtail, calico bass and barracuda while fishing the Ribbon Kelp in the lee of South Island and at the 5 Minute Kelp that is located below and inside of the south tip of South Island. Carroll had 2 friends aboard who were novice anglers and they fished until noon, had lots of action and caught 4 yellowtail along with a good number of barracuda and calico bass. Carroll was busy assisting his friends during the trip and he had a great time in helping his guests and seeing them catch their first ever yellowtail. He said that the yellowtail bite was good enough to where 3 experienced anglers could have caught their limits of yellowtail in a couple of hours of fishing.

The yellowtail they boated were 12- to 16-pound fish and he said they had some lost hookups on fish that were up more than 20 pounds. They were getting bit while slow trolling sardines using size 1 hooks and fluorocarbon leaders that were as heavy as 30-pound test.

Private boater Bill Parker of Cabo fished a recent trip to Los Coronado Islands and reported that he and a friend caught 7 of the 18 to 25-pound yellowtail before saying enough was enough and leaving the biting yellowtail to go fish for calico bass. Parker reported finding the hot yellowtail action while fishing the 5 Minute Kelp area located below and inside of the south tip of South Island.

The yellows were biting for them on slow trolled sardines and Parker said they got bit best while slow trolling into the wind at a very slow idle speed. They increased the number of yellowtail bites they were getting once they dropped down to using 20- or 25-pound test fluorocarbon leaders and size 2 or size 4 live bait hooks.

Parker said after leaving the hot yellowtail bite they found very good calico bass fishing. Parker and his friend caught and released several large calicos while fishing sardines at spots around South Island and the Middle Grounds.

The fishing along the San Diego area coast has been very good for a mix of calico bass, barracuda and rockfish along with an occasional bonus halibut, white sea bass or yellowtail.

One of the best areas for the coastal fishing is at the Point Loma Kelp Beds which have been producing good numbers of calico bass along with some flurries of barracuda action and an occasional yellowtail or white sea bass. There have been calicos and barracuda biting right along the edges of the kelp beds but the best barracuda action has been found by locating spots of working tern birds outside of the kelp beds.

The kelp bed calico bass and barracuda action has been found over a large area at spots ranging from the Point Loma Lighthouse kelp all the way up to the kelp off Hill Street at Sunset Cliffs. A key to finding the best kelp bed fishing has been to locate kelp bed areas where you find the cleanest and warmest water combined with a downhill current flow. Some of the best areas have been the Point Loma Lighthouse, the 5 Tanks, Green Tank and Point Loma College.

Look for the barracuda under working tern birds out in the 12 to 30 fathom depths in an area ranging from the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma on up to Hill Street at Sunset Cliffs. The showings of barracuda under the tern birds have been hit or miss but when located, sardines and surface iron have been working well.

The fishing at La Jolla has improved and has been providing a mix of calico bass, barracuda and rockfish. There have been occasional schools of yellowtail found up working on the surface outside of Torrey Pines and there has also been a chance at catching a white seabass incidental to trying for a yellowtail.

Imperial Beach has been producing an occasional halibut for boats drifting areas outside of the Imperial Beach Pier in the 40- to 80-foot depths. Boats fishing outside of Mission Beach have also been catching an occasional halibut while drifting the sandy bottom around the structure of the sunken NEL Tower or the structure of the Yukon shipwreck.

The late early summer season is here and anglers have a lot of good options to choose from be it targeting tuna, yellowtail and dorado offshore or yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, calico bass and halibut at the local Islands or along the coast. I hope and pray that you continue to stay healthy, safe and sound. Keep on fishing and please be safe!  I hope to see you out on the water sometime soon.

Bob Vanian is the voice, writer and researcher of the San Diego-based internet fish report service called 976-Bite which can be found at Vanian also provides anglers with a personal fish report service over the telephone at 619-226-8218. He always welcomes your fish reports at that same phone number or at