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Incredible Yellowtails

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Incredible Yellowtails Biting

Everybody knows that the yellowtail have been biting along the coast the last couple months. But what most don’t realize is that there are a lot more yellowtail biting than there are reports of yellowtail being caught. This is partially due to the fact that it’s the middle of January and not a lot of people are fishing, but another reason is that not a lot of boats are going out looking for fish.

I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again.

There are so many fish along our coast that it’s as easy as it’s ever going to get to go out and catch a yellowtail right now. Just how easy? Well, Matt and I took our new boat out of Long Beach on Saturday morning, with no GPS or fish finder, and within a couple of hours of leaving the dock we’d found a school of biting yellowtail.

The process was as simple as running towards the general vicinity of the 150, an area we’d caught fish in previous weeks, then looking for birds. The birds we found on the 150 weren’t acting fishy and it was blowing 20-30 knots offshore, so we headed west and kept looking. Once we got out of the wind tunnel, we started seeing more birds working and eventually found the right ones. We only caught one fish, but probably would have had a couple more shots if we didn’t spend thirty minutes getting it untangled from a lobster pot.

yellowtail west coastTrust me, we didn’t catch that fish because we’re good yellowtail fishermen, we caught it because there are so many fish out there right now that you don’t have to be a good yellowtail fisherman to catch one, or have working electronics for that matter. So, if you’re headed out this weekend, please take the chance and find your own fish. When you do you’ll be laughing about just how easy it was.

Now let’s take a look at where to take a look. There are still some fish scattered around on the coast in Ventura and also a few coming from the backside of Anacapa Island, but the fishing has been tough.

I’d keep an eye on this zone early next week as it’s been one of the more moon dependent and the full is on February 3rd.

There have been yellows on the deep-water structure in the Santa Monica Bay and there’s no reason they shouldn’t still be there. I’d look at the deep-water hard bottom off of El Segundo or the Big Reef area off Rocky Point. Just like anywhere else, look for closely grouped spots of birds picking on the surface.

Down in Long Beach the yellowtail have started to settle in on spots on the Horseshoe Kelp. So, while your best bet is to still look for bird schools on the 150, don’t hesitate to check out any suspicious bird activity on the way out there. The fish we caught on Saturday was up chasing sardines in fairly shallow water (I’d guess around 80-feet).

The fish are still around Box Canyon. Though the bite has slowed down at the time of this writing, there are plenty of spots that might be holding fish between the 150 and there. Any of the deep water hard bottom south of Newport Harbor might have fish on it, so don’t drive by any areas of active birds without taking a look.

Earlier this week at least one boat got into a surface iron bite on yellows out of Oceanside. If you’re familiar with the waters between there and San Diego, I’d take a look at any of the cod spots in the zone. You probably won’t see another boat all day but don’t let that bother you, there are fish to be caught.

Incredible Yellowtails

The yellows are biting in deep water outside La Jolla but that is going to be another crowded zone. If you’re looking for a shot at a big yellow down there without the crowds, there have been some big fish caught while fishing rockfish on the 9. The Coronado Islands are also biting, but it’s mostly smaller fish.

Sport boat anglers have several options to catch yellows. Captain Aaron Graham has been on the Long Beach fish and will be running a 3/4-day trip this Saturday on the Native Sun out of 22nd Street Landing . The Sum Fun out of Dana Wharf is online to fish the yellows around Box Canyon. Down in San Diego, the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing has been on the yellows but it has been extremely crowded.

Incredible Yellowtails

There are also lots of trips running to Colonett this weekend but the ridge has been crowded and counts were down last weekend.

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Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California and Mexican waters. Erik is also an active freelance writer and the author of the weekly column So Cal Scene, which BD publishes every Friday. In So Cal Scene, Erik keeps all of the BD readers up to date on what's biting in Southern California. Erik divides his fishing time on local boats, long-range trips and Mexico excursions. For the past eight years, Erik has been competing in the SWBA (Saltwater Bass Anglers) tournament series and has multiple tournament victories to his credit. His sponsors include Batson Enterprises / Rainshadow Rods, Robalo Boats, Tilly's Marine, Abu/Garcia, Penn Reels, Navionics, Raymarine, MC Swimbaits, Uni-Butter Fishing Scent and Bladerunner Tackle.