Welcome back to the SoCal Scene! I just checked my calendar and this is my first report since the week after Fred Hall. While I’ve missed writing my weekly columns over the last twenty weeks, it’s also just been nice to go fishing without having to worry about taking pictures or keeping tabs on what’s happening up and down the coast each week. Anyway, there’s lots of good fishing going on, so let’s check out this week’s Navionics Chart to see what’s happening!
Before I get into what’s biting, I’d like to take a second to talk about what’s not biting and that is the coast. I’m not sure what exactly is happening to cause it but we’ve had a tremendous amount of coastal upwelling this year and that has caused some surprisingly cold patches of water from San Diego to Santa Barbara. A few weeks ago, I decided to fish bass along the coast in Newport and got out of the harbor to find that the water had dropped almost ten degrees overnight. While we still managed to catch a few bass, it was crazy to be fishing in 57-degree water in the middle of July. All that being said, there are still some fish to be caught along the coast but it’s been very hit and miss.
Starting up north and working down, there are some seabass and yellows biting at the Channel Islands but it’s been pretty windy up there this week. Exotics aside, it sounds like the bass and rockfish are biting pretty good up there if it’s not too windy. The ¾-day boat out of Sea Landing has had a couple of good scores on barracuda along the coast when it’s been too windy to make an island run.
Making our way down to Catalina, there have been some big yellows biting for boats fishing the backside east end. Some days are better than others but the ¾-day boats have been scoring 10 to 20 fish per day on sardines and jigs. There’s quite a bit of boat traffic in the area that’s biting so I’d advise private boaters to get up early enough to fish the zone before the sport boats show up and to leave before the gang bang occurs. There are also plenty of bass and bonito biting at the island right now.
The yellows are also biting at San Clemente Island, though the island didn’t get much coverage this week due to most guys fishing tuna.
I’ve been fishing the island at least once or twice a week for the last few months and have seen yellows every trip. There are fish scattered along the front side of the island but they move around a lot. If you’re looking for them, I’d run along the 20-fathom curve looking for bait, birds, breezers, puddlers, or spots of bonito or bass feeding on the surface. The fish are getting active when the current is running, so if you get to the island and there isn’t any, I’d go bass fishing for a few hours and then come back and look around again.
Speaking of bass fishing, it’s been as good as it gets the last few times I’ve been at the island. A hardbait or weedless swimbait fished along the up-current edge of any bed will produce bites and some of the beds are biting well enough that you can drift the entire length of the kelp and get bit the whole way.
Moving offshore, there are big bluefin biting off the backside of San Clemente Island with most of the fish being 200-pound class but some exceeding 300-pounds. It sounds like you’re pretty much going to have to use flying fish to get a bite in this zone, so you definitely won’t see me there.
There are smaller bluefin scattered all along the Clemente Ridge and up the front side of the island but they can be difficult to locate. There are also both bluefin and yellowfin scattered around the local banks but you’ll need some luck to run into them.
Speaking of luck, we were lucky enough to find a spot of bluefin off the east end of Catalina while marlin fishing, but they sank out before we could get a cast on them. The good news is that we did catch a striped marlin on a jig earlier that morning. While there haven’t been a lot caught, there have been enough seen this week to confirm that marlin season started early this year.
Finally, the boats fishing both above and below the border out of San Diego have been scoring some nice yellowfin and bluefin. The yellowfin have been running 20 to 40-pounds, with fish to 75-pounds in the mix. The bluefin in that zone are also mixed in size, with most of the fish being school-sized but enough 100-pound plus fish in the mix to keep things interesting. Well, that’s about it for this week. Get out there and catch some fish!