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A few early-season yellowtail off the Coronados

Yellowtail season is wide open in La Paz

A very happy angler with a quality yellowtail caught while fishing with Tuna Fishing Company out of Ensenada de los Muertos in southern Baja.
A very happy angler with a quality yellowtail caught while fishing with Tuna Fishing Company out of Ensenada de los Muertos in southern Baja.

Dock Totals 3/5– 3/18: 1,363 anglers aboard 74 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 15 calico bass (45 released), 1 halfmoon, 2 halibut, 138 lingcod, 11 perch, 48 spiny lobster (131 released), 30 rock crab, 918 rockfish, 382 sand bass, 510 sanddab, 1 sand sole, 690 sculpin, 133 sheephead, 14 spider crab, 2,484 whitefish, and 101 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Weather was less of an issue for the fleet over the past two weeks as it was the previous month, and the number of anglers that made it out more than doubled. That said, we did not get much opportunity on trips longer than full day runs to the Coronado Islands for a shot at the yellowtail that are beginning to show there. With most of the runs being this side of the border and that rockfish is closed in U.S. waters until April 1, rockfish counts dropped while whitefish, sculpin, sand dab, and sand bass numbers shot up quite a bit.

Surf fishing has been good for barred surf perch as long as the surf has been under head-high. Sand crabs are thin and hard to find, so much of the action has been on Gulp sandworms or small 2-inch grubs fished on a Carolina rig, or basically a slider sinker with 12-to-24-inch leader. Typically, to avoid tangles in the line, the rougher the water, the shorter the leader. The fish are biting from behind the break to the whitewash in shin-deep water. A few California corbina have been caught, but it is still very early in the season for them; they will start showing more when sand crabs are more prolific in the summer/fall.

In the bays, halibut and spotted bay bas have been biting well, with the spotties holding on the deep side of the eelgrass edges near channels through most of the tide, then moving into shallower water at the tops of the higher tide swings. Small 3” swimbaits or grubs work best when casted just to the deep side of the eelgrass and let fall along the edge. If not bit on the sink, work it back in a slow hopping twitch and repeat. Halibut in the bay have been mostly hanging in 15 to 30 feet of water along the channel edges and depressions throughout the bay, though the better area is just off the main channel on the Point Loma Flats or on the other side near Zuniga Jetty.

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Yellowtail are still there at the Coronados, but as is in most years, those early-season fish can come and go from one day to the next. Still, it is nice to get a shot at quality 20 to 25-pound fish this close to home in March. If you want wide-open yellowtail fishing, the place to be this time of year is the La Paz area. Friends in Agua Amarga, a small village where most of the pangeros live who work out of Ensenada de los Muertos, are having fun catching yellowtail to 30-pounds from the beach while targeting sierra mackerel. Sierra run this time every year and are normal targets from the beach for anglers using rod and reel or handline.

Occasionally, yellowtail will cruise inside to feed on the sardinas the sierra are preying on, and then it is possible to catch a rare yellowtail from the beach. It’s not really that rare if you have the time and are in the right place. I have caught many from shore, though most have been between 5 and 10 pounds. The yellowtail they are getting off the beaches outside of La Paz this year have been averaging about 20-pounds, and the temptation to load up and make the 800-mile drive is real. Especially after the past couple months of wet, cold, windy and very un-southern California-ish weather so far in 2023. Fishing out of La Paz in the spring can be iffy if you don’t have time to wait for the calm days. North winds blowing down the Sea Of Cortez can raise wind waves in minutes and turn the glassy Vermilion Sea into a frothing wind-blown mess in the time it takes to eat a plate of tacos. Really, though, the weather down south has been pretty good, and the mix of windy days and calm days has been accommodating enough to easily get out most of the days of the week, even if just for a morning. Folks fishing from pangas are getting easy limits on most days from La Paz and north to Gonzaga, so for much of the Sea of Cortez, it is yellowtail season. From the East Cape and south to Los Cabos, and off Bahia Magdalena on the Pacific side, yellowfin tuna and wahoo are the primary targets, with San Diego long-range vessels reporting decent fishing on wahoo along with catches of yellowfin tuna to 300-pounds.

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Hot Trips:

3/5 – 10 hoop-netters aboard the Jig Strike Twilight run raised 63 spiny lobster (24 kept) and 6 rock crab.

3/9 – 27 anglers aboard the San Diego Full-Day run to the Coronado Islands caught 80 whitefish, 33 yellowtail, and 15 rockfish.

3/13 – Limits of 70 rockfish along with 10 whitefish were caught by 14 anglers aboard the Mission Belle Full-Day run into Mexican waters.

3/17 – The New Seaforth called in with 185 rockfish for 21 anglers while fishing in Mexican waters on an extended Half-Day trip.

Fish Plants: 3/23 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500), 3/26 (week of) – Wohlford, trout (2,000), 3/28 – Dixon Lake, trout (1,500), 4/3 – Jennings, trout (1,500)

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A very happy angler with a quality yellowtail caught while fishing with Tuna Fishing Company out of Ensenada de los Muertos in southern Baja.
A very happy angler with a quality yellowtail caught while fishing with Tuna Fishing Company out of Ensenada de los Muertos in southern Baja.

Dock Totals 3/5– 3/18: 1,363 anglers aboard 74 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past two weeks caught 15 calico bass (45 released), 1 halfmoon, 2 halibut, 138 lingcod, 11 perch, 48 spiny lobster (131 released), 30 rock crab, 918 rockfish, 382 sand bass, 510 sanddab, 1 sand sole, 690 sculpin, 133 sheephead, 14 spider crab, 2,484 whitefish, and 101 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Weather was less of an issue for the fleet over the past two weeks as it was the previous month, and the number of anglers that made it out more than doubled. That said, we did not get much opportunity on trips longer than full day runs to the Coronado Islands for a shot at the yellowtail that are beginning to show there. With most of the runs being this side of the border and that rockfish is closed in U.S. waters until April 1, rockfish counts dropped while whitefish, sculpin, sand dab, and sand bass numbers shot up quite a bit.

Surf fishing has been good for barred surf perch as long as the surf has been under head-high. Sand crabs are thin and hard to find, so much of the action has been on Gulp sandworms or small 2-inch grubs fished on a Carolina rig, or basically a slider sinker with 12-to-24-inch leader. Typically, to avoid tangles in the line, the rougher the water, the shorter the leader. The fish are biting from behind the break to the whitewash in shin-deep water. A few California corbina have been caught, but it is still very early in the season for them; they will start showing more when sand crabs are more prolific in the summer/fall.

In the bays, halibut and spotted bay bas have been biting well, with the spotties holding on the deep side of the eelgrass edges near channels through most of the tide, then moving into shallower water at the tops of the higher tide swings. Small 3” swimbaits or grubs work best when casted just to the deep side of the eelgrass and let fall along the edge. If not bit on the sink, work it back in a slow hopping twitch and repeat. Halibut in the bay have been mostly hanging in 15 to 30 feet of water along the channel edges and depressions throughout the bay, though the better area is just off the main channel on the Point Loma Flats or on the other side near Zuniga Jetty.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Yellowtail are still there at the Coronados, but as is in most years, those early-season fish can come and go from one day to the next. Still, it is nice to get a shot at quality 20 to 25-pound fish this close to home in March. If you want wide-open yellowtail fishing, the place to be this time of year is the La Paz area. Friends in Agua Amarga, a small village where most of the pangeros live who work out of Ensenada de los Muertos, are having fun catching yellowtail to 30-pounds from the beach while targeting sierra mackerel. Sierra run this time every year and are normal targets from the beach for anglers using rod and reel or handline.

Occasionally, yellowtail will cruise inside to feed on the sardinas the sierra are preying on, and then it is possible to catch a rare yellowtail from the beach. It’s not really that rare if you have the time and are in the right place. I have caught many from shore, though most have been between 5 and 10 pounds. The yellowtail they are getting off the beaches outside of La Paz this year have been averaging about 20-pounds, and the temptation to load up and make the 800-mile drive is real. Especially after the past couple months of wet, cold, windy and very un-southern California-ish weather so far in 2023. Fishing out of La Paz in the spring can be iffy if you don’t have time to wait for the calm days. North winds blowing down the Sea Of Cortez can raise wind waves in minutes and turn the glassy Vermilion Sea into a frothing wind-blown mess in the time it takes to eat a plate of tacos. Really, though, the weather down south has been pretty good, and the mix of windy days and calm days has been accommodating enough to easily get out most of the days of the week, even if just for a morning. Folks fishing from pangas are getting easy limits on most days from La Paz and north to Gonzaga, so for much of the Sea of Cortez, it is yellowtail season. From the East Cape and south to Los Cabos, and off Bahia Magdalena on the Pacific side, yellowfin tuna and wahoo are the primary targets, with San Diego long-range vessels reporting decent fishing on wahoo along with catches of yellowfin tuna to 300-pounds.

They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

Hot Trips:

3/5 – 10 hoop-netters aboard the Jig Strike Twilight run raised 63 spiny lobster (24 kept) and 6 rock crab.

3/9 – 27 anglers aboard the San Diego Full-Day run to the Coronado Islands caught 80 whitefish, 33 yellowtail, and 15 rockfish.

3/13 – Limits of 70 rockfish along with 10 whitefish were caught by 14 anglers aboard the Mission Belle Full-Day run into Mexican waters.

3/17 – The New Seaforth called in with 185 rockfish for 21 anglers while fishing in Mexican waters on an extended Half-Day trip.

Fish Plants: 3/23 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500), 3/26 (week of) – Wohlford, trout (2,000), 3/28 – Dixon Lake, trout (1,500), 4/3 – Jennings, trout (1,500)

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