FishingFishing Reports

Yellows and Tuna Bring in the New Year

2015 started out with a bang with the first bluefin of the year being landed at 6:42 AM aboard Bob Hoose‘s “Prospector” while fishing the Cortez Bank on New Year’s Day. Later that day, the crew of the “Provider” hooked and lost a striped marlin off the backside of San Clemente Island and multiple boats had hits on yellowtail up and down the coast.

With unseasonably high water temps and good weather in the forecast, there’s no reason the bite shouldn’t continue through the weekend.

So, let’s take a look at your fishing options. If you’re looking to catch a tuna, you’re going to need to jump on a 11/2-day trip to Cortez Bank this weekend. Both the Toronado out of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach and the Tribute out of Seaforth Landing in San Diego are running trips on Friday night. The tuna bite has been scratchy and most fish are coming on long soaked baits fished on light line. So if you were getting on one of these trips, I’d recommend bringing some 15 and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. There are also some yellows biting on the bank and the blue and white yo-yo jig has been the hot ticket out there so bring your jig stick.

Another 11/2-day option is the yellowtail and rockfish bite at Colonett. Last weekend the Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing made the run down there and was treated to wide open yellowtail fishing on 18-25-pound fish and good rockfishing with lots of big lings in the mix. The yellows down there were biting the yo-yo iron full speed. With boats running to both Cortez and Colonett, I’d make sure and call the landing to confirm the trip’s destination so you’ll know what tackle to bring.

Closer to home, the coastal yellows bit again during this week’s full moon, but the fish counts didn’t reflect it because most of the sport boats were tied to the dock or fishing for other things. Down in San Diego, Captain Duane Mellor of Seasons Sportfishing put his passengers on some big yellows and a huge halibut over the weekend.

Captain Jimmy Decker reported running trips out of Dana Point on Sunday and Monday and scoring yellows on the yo-yo iron on both trips.

I fished Long Beach on Sunday with John and Travis Curry and we had the deep water outside the Horseshoe Kelp pretty much to ourselves. We got three bites on the yo-yo and John converted his bite into a quality yellowtail before a seal got on us and shut down the action. Later in the day we metered a lot of bait around hard bottom in the 110-125-foot depth range and also marked quite a few yellows but they weren’t willing to bite. Our only bites came just before the peak high tide.

The 1/2 and 3/4-day boats along the coast are focusing on the sand bass bite with a side of sculpin and perch. This is classic leadhead and frozen squid type fishing, so if you’re into that, now’s a great time to go. Private boaters have a few more options on the bass front. I fished Catalina Island on Jimmy Decker’s boat last week and the calicos were readily biting the surface iron. After leaving the island, we stopped at PV and caught some more bass on the MC Weedless Swimbait.

A few days later, I fished Izor’s Reef with Chris Oakes and we had good sand bass fishing on plastics. The fish were high in the water column and aggressively biting the Alabama Rig; on one cast I managed four fish. There are some bigger ones in the mix and we landed fish up to seven pounds.

Wherever you decide to fish this weekend, don’t make any assumptions about how the fish are going to be acting based on it being the beginning of January. All of the fish I’ve caught in the last couple weeks have been acting like it’s already springtime.

So, why not get out there and try to find the next hot bite that you won’t be able to believe is happening in the middle of winter.

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 an...