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Beat the summer heat on a twilight run

Yellowfin and bluefin moving up

A chunky calico bass caught while twilight fishing aboard the Premier out of H&M Landing.
A chunky calico bass caught while twilight fishing aboard the Premier out of H&M Landing.

Dock Totals 7/16– 7/22: 5193 anglers aboard 219 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 92 barracuda, 3087 bluefin tuna (up to 255 pounds), 90 bocaccio, 117 bonito, 1110 calico bass, 7 halibut, 9 lingcod, 6139 rockfish, 128 sand bass, 59 sanddab, 3 sand sole, 99 sculpin, 216 sheephead, 2 treefish, 4 triggerfish, 320 whitefish, 1 white seabass, 782 yellowfin tuna, and 182 yellowtail.

Saltwater: As we ease into the middle part of summer, fishing has been great for the fleet, albeit with mixed results. Yellowfin and bluefin tuna have been caught in the same area from banks near the “Corner,” which is where the international border extends west to the outer limit of Mexican waters. There, bluefin have been biting better in the dark hours while yellowfin have been caught mostly in daylight. One thing that is consistent is the depth where bluefin have been holding during the night bite. In most cases, 300 feet is the magic number, so much so that some of the boats will stop on the way out at the fifty-fathom line so anglers can drop to the bottom and mark their line at 300 feet to ensure achieving optimum depth while jigging.

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Metered tuna tend to look like an arc of marks, and the middle top of that arc has been averaging that magic number in depth. As tuna tend to focus forward and up when feeding, dropping into the school then jigging vertically up will be more productive in triggering bites. If fishing bait on a sinker rig, 300 feet is also the best depth to soak a fat sardine. As average size is getting a little smaller, the big fish are still around to well over 200 pounds, so having a quiver of three or four setups from 25-pound to 130-pound is best. If there are any gaps in your arsenal, the landings all have rental gear for every class available.

As bluefin are scattered from off of Ensenada up to between San Clemente Island and San Nicolas Island, so has been the fleet. Longer trips are heading west more often, as the normal trend is for the bluefin to move more toward the San Clemente and Cortez/Tanner bank areas by the end of summer, while yellowfin and dorado begin to fill in just to the south. Though there were no dorado in the report for the 3-day and under runs this past week, we should begin to see them as the yellowfin numbers rise. Most of the yellowfin thus far in 2023 have been caught from the Corner and south.

Yellowtail are still a little sluggish, though they are picking up around the Coronado Islands, and all signs point to an improved bite moving forward into the season. That said, the numbers caught are way down from this time last year. Nothing is ‘static’ in the sportfishing realm, change is the constant, and captains and crews have been working hard to put their anglers on the best opportunities for targeted species.

For those who wish to hit the local nearshore fishery, half-day boats are beginning their twilight runs. These trips tend to focus on the coastal kelp and flats from Imperial Beach to La Jolla; they depart at 6 pm and return by 11 pm, and run about $70. Boats out of San Diego Bay will focus on the areas from Point Loma south, while runs out of Mission Bay focus on Point Loma to off of La Jolla. Twilight runs can be a great way to get a line wet if you’re not able to get out on a day trip, and offer great nighttime views of city lights and even SeaWorld’s fireworks shows, which run nightly through July, August 1-13, 18, 19, 25, and 26, and the first four days in September. As inland temps rise, twilight fishing can be a pleasant family cool down as well.

Fishing inside San Diego and Mission Bay has been heating up as well. Spotted bay bass and halibut have been the main catches for those fishing from boats, kayaks, piers, shore, and even float tubes. With the warming water, halibut and spotties have been more found in the deeper water off eelgrass edges and along the channels. Working the docks is also productive for spotted bay bass, though most docks do not allow fishing. If you are on a small vessel and are a careful navigator, it can be done. Flipping bass lures (my favorite is a ½ to ¾-ounce skirted spinner bait usually meant for freshwater bass) along the pilings can often result in a strike by a “grumpy” bass lurking in the shade of the dock. Halibut have been hitting plastics and bait presented slow and near the bottom. With summer sun driving many to the water, fishing inside the bay, especially in float tubes or kayaks can be iffy, so be sure to remain out of traffic zones. Also, morning/evening fishing tends to be better for bites and less traffic. Especially in a kayak or tube, always wear your PFD and make sure you are visible to all traffic. They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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Rosemarie's out to show sliders have legs in Mission Beach

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A chunky calico bass caught while twilight fishing aboard the Premier out of H&M Landing.
A chunky calico bass caught while twilight fishing aboard the Premier out of H&M Landing.

Dock Totals 7/16– 7/22: 5193 anglers aboard 219 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 92 barracuda, 3087 bluefin tuna (up to 255 pounds), 90 bocaccio, 117 bonito, 1110 calico bass, 7 halibut, 9 lingcod, 6139 rockfish, 128 sand bass, 59 sanddab, 3 sand sole, 99 sculpin, 216 sheephead, 2 treefish, 4 triggerfish, 320 whitefish, 1 white seabass, 782 yellowfin tuna, and 182 yellowtail.

Saltwater: As we ease into the middle part of summer, fishing has been great for the fleet, albeit with mixed results. Yellowfin and bluefin tuna have been caught in the same area from banks near the “Corner,” which is where the international border extends west to the outer limit of Mexican waters. There, bluefin have been biting better in the dark hours while yellowfin have been caught mostly in daylight. One thing that is consistent is the depth where bluefin have been holding during the night bite. In most cases, 300 feet is the magic number, so much so that some of the boats will stop on the way out at the fifty-fathom line so anglers can drop to the bottom and mark their line at 300 feet to ensure achieving optimum depth while jigging.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Metered tuna tend to look like an arc of marks, and the middle top of that arc has been averaging that magic number in depth. As tuna tend to focus forward and up when feeding, dropping into the school then jigging vertically up will be more productive in triggering bites. If fishing bait on a sinker rig, 300 feet is also the best depth to soak a fat sardine. As average size is getting a little smaller, the big fish are still around to well over 200 pounds, so having a quiver of three or four setups from 25-pound to 130-pound is best. If there are any gaps in your arsenal, the landings all have rental gear for every class available.

As bluefin are scattered from off of Ensenada up to between San Clemente Island and San Nicolas Island, so has been the fleet. Longer trips are heading west more often, as the normal trend is for the bluefin to move more toward the San Clemente and Cortez/Tanner bank areas by the end of summer, while yellowfin and dorado begin to fill in just to the south. Though there were no dorado in the report for the 3-day and under runs this past week, we should begin to see them as the yellowfin numbers rise. Most of the yellowfin thus far in 2023 have been caught from the Corner and south.

Yellowtail are still a little sluggish, though they are picking up around the Coronado Islands, and all signs point to an improved bite moving forward into the season. That said, the numbers caught are way down from this time last year. Nothing is ‘static’ in the sportfishing realm, change is the constant, and captains and crews have been working hard to put their anglers on the best opportunities for targeted species.

For those who wish to hit the local nearshore fishery, half-day boats are beginning their twilight runs. These trips tend to focus on the coastal kelp and flats from Imperial Beach to La Jolla; they depart at 6 pm and return by 11 pm, and run about $70. Boats out of San Diego Bay will focus on the areas from Point Loma south, while runs out of Mission Bay focus on Point Loma to off of La Jolla. Twilight runs can be a great way to get a line wet if you’re not able to get out on a day trip, and offer great nighttime views of city lights and even SeaWorld’s fireworks shows, which run nightly through July, August 1-13, 18, 19, 25, and 26, and the first four days in September. As inland temps rise, twilight fishing can be a pleasant family cool down as well.

Fishing inside San Diego and Mission Bay has been heating up as well. Spotted bay bass and halibut have been the main catches for those fishing from boats, kayaks, piers, shore, and even float tubes. With the warming water, halibut and spotties have been more found in the deeper water off eelgrass edges and along the channels. Working the docks is also productive for spotted bay bass, though most docks do not allow fishing. If you are on a small vessel and are a careful navigator, it can be done. Flipping bass lures (my favorite is a ½ to ¾-ounce skirted spinner bait usually meant for freshwater bass) along the pilings can often result in a strike by a “grumpy” bass lurking in the shade of the dock. Halibut have been hitting plastics and bait presented slow and near the bottom. With summer sun driving many to the water, fishing inside the bay, especially in float tubes or kayaks can be iffy, so be sure to remain out of traffic zones. Also, morning/evening fishing tends to be better for bites and less traffic. Especially in a kayak or tube, always wear your PFD and make sure you are visible to all traffic. They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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