Juvenile grouper from the courtesy dock at the Molino Viejo, San Quintin.
Dec 17 – Dec 20: 709 anglers aboard 37 boats out of San Diego landings this past week (4 days) caught 246 bluefin tuna, 398 yellowtail, 54 calico bass, 16 sand bass, 1694 rockfish, 9 lingcod, 6 bonito, 61 whitefish, 101 sheephead, 45 sanddab, 3 halibut, and 5 spiny lobster.
Saltwater: Given the holiday season, it’s a bit short, as is the count, but it seems about equivalent to the first four days during the week previous. Those that made it out on the briny with one of San Diego’s finest (one of the vessels in the world’s largest live-bait sportfishing fleet) caught their share of targeted species. That’s the story. Yellowtail and bluefin tuna continue to prowl north of the border in the mid- and upper-water column near offshore high spots up toward San Clemente Island, while down low and tight to the bottom on near and offshore banks the rockfish, lingcod, and sheephead (along with good numbers of whitefish) continue to bite well.
Calico and sand bass are both doable in their winter realms if you can catch the current right, but the big seasonal swings make planning a bass excursion an important part of chance of success. Try for the ebbing swings at the top or bottom, and pick days that aren’t a large range. Fortunately, for those wanting to score some winter bass in the bay or kelp, there are offsetting days to the big tide swings with several hours of slack. That should bode well for those targeting halibut in the bay and sandy stretches between the inshore reefs outside of the jetties.
Here in San Quintin, those big high tides get the juvenile grouper going, and if you think firing up some spotties and sandies to 3 or 4 pounds is fun, try dock fishing some juvenile broomtail and gulf groupers. True, protected in the U.S., but here just 180 miles south of the South Bay there’s a north bay full of them. I have caught several dozen juvenile gulf and broomtail grouper to 6 pounds while bass fishing, and though my conservationist gene usually releases the fish, I have kept a few. It’s legal here, and by the way I know several people that have been catching and keeping every one they catch and the fish are still thick. Thus, I justify a sumptuous grouper filet wrapped in greens and baked dinner every so often. Happy holidays!
Top boats of the week:
Dec 17 – 28 anglers caught their limit of 56 bluefin tuna aboard a Pacific Queen 1.5 day trip.
Dec 18 – The New Lo-An called in with 32 yellowtail and limits of 44 bluefin tuna for the 22 anglers aboard their 1.5 day trip.
Dec 19 – The Sea Watch’s 13 anglers aboard a ½-day run caught a good mix, with 4 sand bass, 58 rockfish, 12 whitefish, and 7 sheephead in the gunnysacks upon their return to the dock. Again, the Pacific Queen strikes – their count: 15 anglers, 54 yellowtail, and limits of 30 bluefin tuna in the hold on an overnight run.
Dec 20 – 22 anglers aboard the Condor overnight run caught limits of 44 bluefin tuna.
Dec 28 - Poway, trout (1500)
Dec 29 – Santee Lakes, trout (TBD)