Posted by: socalsalty | February 28, 2013

Trip Report: Coronado Islands On The San Diego

IMG_6187A few weeks back I was excited about the fact that the San Diego was going to start fishing the Coronado Islands again.  As you’ll recall, 3/4 day boats like the San Diego, Mission Belle, and Malahini were forced to go offshore last summer due to the whole Mexican fishing visa issue.    Luckily for all of us, we had a warm water year and it was dodo madness offshore.  When I saw that the San Diego was going back to fish the islands, I wondered if something had changed regarding the whole issue.  Fishing-wise, I was hopeful they might find some yellowtail out there.  The San Diego got their first yellowtail of the year yesterday (3 on the yoyo between 25-30lbs.).  In the last several days prior to my trip, they put together some consistent rockfishing counts, so I made plans to go down.

Early Saturday morning, me and my buddy John made it down to the landing around 5 to join 31 other anglers for the 5:30am departure.  The boat had frozen squid and we picked up live bait too…a mixture of sardines and anchovies.  Capt. Ryan Bostian introduced the crew…Matt and Russ on deck, and George in the galley.

Capt. Ryan at the helm of the SD

Capt. Ryan at the helm of the SD

I hadn’t been on the boat since last April when I had my epic Yellows on the Yo-Yo trip.  The crew remembered me though which was cool.  It was going to be a 2.5 hour trip out.  We were headed to some high spots southwest of the islands in about 350-400 feet of water.  On the way out, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the wheelhouse and asked Capt. Ryan about the islands.  They hadn’t had any encounters with the Mexican navy.  No issues at all.  What changed?  He didn’t know for sure, but thought that maybe it had something to do with the change in government brought about by their elections over there.  Whatever it was, I was happy to be going again.

We started to slow down and I could see the rocks that we’d be targeting on the sonar.  I went down to the deck to get ready to fish.  I didn’t bring gear for this spot as John had been tinkering in his garage in preparation for the trip.  He set me up with a custom wrapped Seeker 775 8 footer, rated 40-100.  The reel was a Shimano TLD 20 2 speed with 100 lb braid.  He tied 4 hook gagnions using 100 lb mono on the main line, 80 to the 7/0 circle hooks.  We used 3 lb of lead.  Capt. Ryan told the anglers to setup on the starboard side for the drift.  Most were using 12 or 16 oz. of lead.   John’s plan was to be straight up and down on the leading edge of the drift as we setup on the opposite side of the boat.  It didn’t prove to be a huge advantage in terms of fish caught, but while the rest of the anglers were elbow to elbow, we could stretch out comfortably.

The idea with the heavy setups is to let one fish bite, and leave him down to thrash around and attract some friends.  Once the rod was really heavy, drop the reel into second gear and wind up the haul.  No 4 bangers for me, but a couple hat tricks 🙂  The morning drifts were productive, but a lot more bocaccio than reds.  After lunch though, Capt. Ryan found some spots kicking out the big reds and it was game on.  It wasn’t long before the boat was limited out.

We topped off the day going shallower (about 180 ft) to target sheephead, and whitefish.  I switched out to my regular 30 lb rig (Shimano Terez 80MH and Avet MXJ) and tied a double dropper with 2/0 J hooks and 10 oz. of lead.  One whitefish, some smaller rockfish, and the aforementioned pinkie sheephead to end the day for me.  For the day, the boat had 3 lings to go with limits of rockfish all around.

Sunday, John’s friend Jim and another friend of ours, Katie, joined us on the water.  The crew changed slightly with Rene and Matt on deck, and Chris manning the grill.  Fishing-wise, Sunday went almost exactly the same as Saturday.  33 anglers, limits of rockfish, a few lings and several whitefish.  The main difference was the wind kicked up the second day.  The drifts went much faster…almost 1 knot at points.  Capt. Ryan was able to find the reds quicker though.  There was one spot in particular that we went back to drift several times and each time if you were down as we went over the bumps, you were rewarded with some nice fish.  I had pinned on some large pink/white Gulp grubs and was having a good run with them catching several large reds.  John decided to go 4 ‘dines though and was rewarded with a 7-8 lb. ling.  For the latter part of the day, we anchored up instead of drifting, but the results were mostly the same, several nice whitefish.

Overall, it was a great weekend…nice weather, good friends, and good fishing.  Best of all it was good to know that the Coronados are back and open for business!

The Coronado Islands are open for fishing!

The Coronado Islands are open for fishing!

Note On The Boat

I can’t say enough how much I like this boat.  It’s a spacious, stable fishing platform.  It has an upper deck with lots of seating area.  There’s a lot of space to stow your gear.  There’s a large, comfortable galley.  It has a refrigerated, saltwater hold that keeps your fish in fantastic shape.  The amenities are a level above most local boats.  The crew is also very helpful and attentive.  Capt. Ryan should be commended for running a first class operation.  Thank you San Diego for a great fishing weekend.

Refrigerated saltwater hold

Refrigerated saltwater hold

Chris in the big galley

Chris in the big galley



  1. Why not leave these poor wildlife alone near these protected Islands. My God!

    • I don’t think you understand what we do. I’d encourage you to come out sometime. If you did, you’d know that we respect the fish and where they live. You’d understand that what we do is very sustainable. Please email me directly if you’d like to join me on the water – Joe

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