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Bluefin still holding out as season turns

Yellowtail missing at Coronados

The fishing photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes is Oliver Peet from Ocean Beach! “Me and my mom go fishing a lot and this is the biggest fish I've ever caught. It's an 85 pound bluefin tuna it's about 4 feet long. I caught it on the Old Glory sportfishing boat out of H&M; Landing. It was caught on a flat fall jig, a custom rod, and a Daiwa reel. It was hard work landing the fish and the reel came off while I was reeling the fish in, my mom and the captain screwed it back in then we landed it.”
The fishing photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes is Oliver Peet from Ocean Beach! “Me and my mom go fishing a lot and this is the biggest fish I've ever caught. It's an 85 pound bluefin tuna it's about 4 feet long. I caught it on the Old Glory sportfishing boat out of H&M Landing. It was caught on a flat fall jig, a custom rod, and a Daiwa reel. It was hard work landing the fish and the reel came off while I was reeling the fish in, my mom and the captain screwed it back in then we landed it.”

Fish Pix Win Fish Tix!

Submit your best fishing photo and every 2 weeks we’ll pick our favorite and run it in this column. Winner will also receive 2 half-day passes plus rod and reel rental ($65–$75 value each) for a sport fishing trip courtesy of the San Diego Sportfishing Council.

Contest details


Dock Totals 11/13 – 11/26: 2424 anglers aboard 126 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 1571 bluefin tuna (to 140 pounds), 2 blue perch, 12 bocaccio, 360 bonito, 87 calico bass, 19 lingcod, 23 rock crab, 3,687 rockfish, 1 rock sole, 249 sand bass, 74 sand dabs, 967 sculpin, 216 sheephead, 1 Spanish jack, 1 spider crab, 124 spiny lobster (140 released), 1599 whitefish, and 5 yellowfin tuna.

Saltwater: As the season turns to a more normal winter-style fishing for San Diego anglers, bluefin tuna continue to put a strain on the gear and backs of those making it out to San Clemente Island. After the last front, the bite only got better, and the counts for the last two weeks nearly doubled from the two weeks previous. That said, this is the first time I can remember with not one yellowtail in a weekly report, much less over two weeks. Granted, not all boats report their catch, and I total only those that fish up to three-day trips, but still, not one yellowtail over a two-week period is a rarity, even in the winter.

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Yellowtail were going off at the Coronado Islands just before that first rainy front in early November, biting well on surface irons and fly-lined bait. Then, as the boats made it back out after the blow and rain, nada. The bite went away and seemed to reappear off the coast of San Quintin. Even the Ensenada fleet reports went from a solid yellowtail bite to mostly rockfish and lingcod at the end of the first week in November. The turn in conditions has been rapid this year, considering the standout late summer/fall action that saw dorado being caught in huge numbers north of the border, with some even making it as far north as the albacore grounds 60 miles off the Oregon coast in September and October.

Other than the bluefin bite off San Clemente, the pelagics have basically vanished to points south. Along with the missing yellowtail in the counts, not one dorado and only a handful of yellowfin tuna were reported caught by the short-to-mid-range fleet over the past two weeks. Inshore, the calico bite has slowed with the cooling water, while sand bass are starting to heat up off the flats off Imperial Beach. Sheephead, rockfish, and sculpin are making up the bulk of the catch for half-day boats when they aren’t targeting sand bass.

On the beach, surf anglers are finding barred surf perch willing to bite on grubs and bait, while those anglers working the cuts and rip edges with crankbaits and spoons are catching occasional legal-sized halibut. Like bluefin, halibut seem to be able to show whenever they feel like it. California halibut can be hard to figure, and as batch spawners that normally spawn between April and July in our area, they can have a two-week spawn any time of the year. Sliding up and down the beach at various depths, halibut are opportunistic feeders that can be hard to get to go on one day, and wide open the next. The edges of reefs, channels, and holes are likely spots to find halibut lying in wait.

I tend to have my best halibut days during the slower part of a dropping tide in bays and channels, and either the bottom or top of the tide when targeting them in the surf, depending on the slope and style of beach. Where there are deeper shore breaks or alongshore cuts that fill in, high tide and the following hour or two are best, and on flatter beaches with the break further out, low tides can be good as you can reach holes you cannot fish on high tides. Other than spawning, a lot of bait in the surf will draw halibut into the shallows, as is often witnessed during grunion runs. With many local species of gamefish, we have a firmer grasp on when and where they will bite and what conditions are most favorable. Though California halibut prefer feeding in shallows to around 60-feet deep, they can be caught from warm knee-deep water on out to chilly depths at 300 feet. Halibut are a much-appreciated catch for San Diego beach and bay anglers, especially when the glamour fish head back south and winter fishing sets in. As the winter sand bass bite warms up, I expect to see more halibut in the half-day counts through winter and into spring, as boats will target the flats more than the kelp edges.

Freshwater: Trout season is heating up as usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Several County lakes have begun their seasonal stocking programs, including Lake Jennings, Santee Lakes, and Dixon Lake. So far, it seems the larger trout are coming from Santee Lakes, while Jennings is producing limits of smaller fish in the 10” to 14” range. Dixon plants normally include a good percentage of larger trout in the 2-3-pound range, but my shore fishing trip there after their first plant in mid-November did not produce much, nor did I see many fish caught. Dixon Lake can be slow to go early in the season as the trout acclimate in the deep canyon lake, but once settled in, it can produce very well. This weekend, December 2nd-4th, the Kiwanis will hold their annual trout derby at Dixon Lake. By then, and after a second plant, the trout should be biting well. Dixon will be closed November 29th-December 1st to allow the freshly-planted trout to settle in for the event.

Whether on the open ocean, beach, lake, or bay, they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

11/13 – The Premier half-day PM run with 15 anglers aboard returned to the dock with a nice mixed-bag of 57 rockfish, 17 bonito, 11 sand bass, 6 sculpin, 5 calico bass, 1 lingcod, and 1 sheephead. 17 anglers aboard the Liberty 1.5-day trip caught 33 bluefin tuna.

11/15 – The Sea Watch called in with 42 whitefish, 18 rockfish, 7 sheephead, 2 sculpin, 1 calico bass, and 1 bonito for the 26 anglers aboard their afternoon half-day run.

11/18 – 18 anglers aboard the New Lo-An 3-Day trip boated 47 bluefin tuna.

11/20 – 50 bluefin tuna were caught by the 27 anglers aboard the Legend 1.5-Day trip, while 29 anglers aboard the Pacific Islander 1.5-Day trip caught 58 bluefin tuna.

11/22 - 9 hoop-netters aboard the Alicia twilight trip kept 17 spiny lobsters along with 3 rock crab and 1 sand bass. 11 anglers aboard the Fortune 3-Day trip caught limits of 66 bluefin tuna.

11/25 – The Chubasco II fishing out of Oceanside on a ¾ Day trip with 20 anglers aboard called in with 150 rockfish, 25 whitefish, and 5 sculpin in the gunny sacks.

Fish Plants: 12/2 - Santee Lakes, lakes 4 & 6, trout (1,500)

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The fishing photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes is Oliver Peet from Ocean Beach! “Me and my mom go fishing a lot and this is the biggest fish I've ever caught. It's an 85 pound bluefin tuna it's about 4 feet long. I caught it on the Old Glory sportfishing boat out of H&M; Landing. It was caught on a flat fall jig, a custom rod, and a Daiwa reel. It was hard work landing the fish and the reel came off while I was reeling the fish in, my mom and the captain screwed it back in then we landed it.”
The fishing photo contest winner of two Half-Day passes is Oliver Peet from Ocean Beach! “Me and my mom go fishing a lot and this is the biggest fish I've ever caught. It's an 85 pound bluefin tuna it's about 4 feet long. I caught it on the Old Glory sportfishing boat out of H&M Landing. It was caught on a flat fall jig, a custom rod, and a Daiwa reel. It was hard work landing the fish and the reel came off while I was reeling the fish in, my mom and the captain screwed it back in then we landed it.”

Fish Pix Win Fish Tix!

Submit your best fishing photo and every 2 weeks we’ll pick our favorite and run it in this column. Winner will also receive 2 half-day passes plus rod and reel rental ($65–$75 value each) for a sport fishing trip courtesy of the San Diego Sportfishing Council.

Contest details


Dock Totals 11/13 – 11/26: 2424 anglers aboard 126 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 1571 bluefin tuna (to 140 pounds), 2 blue perch, 12 bocaccio, 360 bonito, 87 calico bass, 19 lingcod, 23 rock crab, 3,687 rockfish, 1 rock sole, 249 sand bass, 74 sand dabs, 967 sculpin, 216 sheephead, 1 Spanish jack, 1 spider crab, 124 spiny lobster (140 released), 1599 whitefish, and 5 yellowfin tuna.

Saltwater: As the season turns to a more normal winter-style fishing for San Diego anglers, bluefin tuna continue to put a strain on the gear and backs of those making it out to San Clemente Island. After the last front, the bite only got better, and the counts for the last two weeks nearly doubled from the two weeks previous. That said, this is the first time I can remember with not one yellowtail in a weekly report, much less over two weeks. Granted, not all boats report their catch, and I total only those that fish up to three-day trips, but still, not one yellowtail over a two-week period is a rarity, even in the winter.

Sponsored
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Yellowtail were going off at the Coronado Islands just before that first rainy front in early November, biting well on surface irons and fly-lined bait. Then, as the boats made it back out after the blow and rain, nada. The bite went away and seemed to reappear off the coast of San Quintin. Even the Ensenada fleet reports went from a solid yellowtail bite to mostly rockfish and lingcod at the end of the first week in November. The turn in conditions has been rapid this year, considering the standout late summer/fall action that saw dorado being caught in huge numbers north of the border, with some even making it as far north as the albacore grounds 60 miles off the Oregon coast in September and October.

Other than the bluefin bite off San Clemente, the pelagics have basically vanished to points south. Along with the missing yellowtail in the counts, not one dorado and only a handful of yellowfin tuna were reported caught by the short-to-mid-range fleet over the past two weeks. Inshore, the calico bite has slowed with the cooling water, while sand bass are starting to heat up off the flats off Imperial Beach. Sheephead, rockfish, and sculpin are making up the bulk of the catch for half-day boats when they aren’t targeting sand bass.

On the beach, surf anglers are finding barred surf perch willing to bite on grubs and bait, while those anglers working the cuts and rip edges with crankbaits and spoons are catching occasional legal-sized halibut. Like bluefin, halibut seem to be able to show whenever they feel like it. California halibut can be hard to figure, and as batch spawners that normally spawn between April and July in our area, they can have a two-week spawn any time of the year. Sliding up and down the beach at various depths, halibut are opportunistic feeders that can be hard to get to go on one day, and wide open the next. The edges of reefs, channels, and holes are likely spots to find halibut lying in wait.

I tend to have my best halibut days during the slower part of a dropping tide in bays and channels, and either the bottom or top of the tide when targeting them in the surf, depending on the slope and style of beach. Where there are deeper shore breaks or alongshore cuts that fill in, high tide and the following hour or two are best, and on flatter beaches with the break further out, low tides can be good as you can reach holes you cannot fish on high tides. Other than spawning, a lot of bait in the surf will draw halibut into the shallows, as is often witnessed during grunion runs. With many local species of gamefish, we have a firmer grasp on when and where they will bite and what conditions are most favorable. Though California halibut prefer feeding in shallows to around 60-feet deep, they can be caught from warm knee-deep water on out to chilly depths at 300 feet. Halibut are a much-appreciated catch for San Diego beach and bay anglers, especially when the glamour fish head back south and winter fishing sets in. As the winter sand bass bite warms up, I expect to see more halibut in the half-day counts through winter and into spring, as boats will target the flats more than the kelp edges.

Freshwater: Trout season is heating up as usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Several County lakes have begun their seasonal stocking programs, including Lake Jennings, Santee Lakes, and Dixon Lake. So far, it seems the larger trout are coming from Santee Lakes, while Jennings is producing limits of smaller fish in the 10” to 14” range. Dixon plants normally include a good percentage of larger trout in the 2-3-pound range, but my shore fishing trip there after their first plant in mid-November did not produce much, nor did I see many fish caught. Dixon Lake can be slow to go early in the season as the trout acclimate in the deep canyon lake, but once settled in, it can produce very well. This weekend, December 2nd-4th, the Kiwanis will hold their annual trout derby at Dixon Lake. By then, and after a second plant, the trout should be biting well. Dixon will be closed November 29th-December 1st to allow the freshly-planted trout to settle in for the event.

Whether on the open ocean, beach, lake, or bay, they’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Notable catches:

11/13 – The Premier half-day PM run with 15 anglers aboard returned to the dock with a nice mixed-bag of 57 rockfish, 17 bonito, 11 sand bass, 6 sculpin, 5 calico bass, 1 lingcod, and 1 sheephead. 17 anglers aboard the Liberty 1.5-day trip caught 33 bluefin tuna.

11/15 – The Sea Watch called in with 42 whitefish, 18 rockfish, 7 sheephead, 2 sculpin, 1 calico bass, and 1 bonito for the 26 anglers aboard their afternoon half-day run.

11/18 – 18 anglers aboard the New Lo-An 3-Day trip boated 47 bluefin tuna.

11/20 – 50 bluefin tuna were caught by the 27 anglers aboard the Legend 1.5-Day trip, while 29 anglers aboard the Pacific Islander 1.5-Day trip caught 58 bluefin tuna.

11/22 - 9 hoop-netters aboard the Alicia twilight trip kept 17 spiny lobsters along with 3 rock crab and 1 sand bass. 11 anglers aboard the Fortune 3-Day trip caught limits of 66 bluefin tuna.

11/25 – The Chubasco II fishing out of Oceanside on a ¾ Day trip with 20 anglers aboard called in with 150 rockfish, 25 whitefish, and 5 sculpin in the gunny sacks.

Fish Plants: 12/2 - Santee Lakes, lakes 4 & 6, trout (1,500)

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