Complete Guide to the 2023 Tuna Season

El Nino update, plus 350+ GPS SoCal Fishing Spots for 2023.



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The 2023 Tuna Season is upon us!

The San Diego sport fishing season of 2023 is a much-anticipated event for fishing enthusiasts and seafood lovers alike. This year is going to be the first year after the last cooling cycle, and the first year of the new predicted 4 year hot cycle. It will affect tuna and other pelagic species alike. The bluefin and yellowfin tuna, Dorado, Yellowtail, and even the baitfish, are likely to be present in greater numbers this year than last due to the warmer water temperatures.  

How El Nino 2023 will Impact Sport Fishing in San Diego

Over the next 3 to 4 seasons, as La Niña gives way, the warmer cycle starts. Warmer water temperatures are a hallmark of El Nino and will affect the populations and migration patterns of several popular species of fish, including wahoo, marlin, and sailfish.

More Varied Species - Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo are likely to show in numbers Aug, Sep, Oct.

Expect a Strong Season - Warmer water temps means more prolific bait fish activity and volume, and this is exactly the ingredients we saw five years ago that lead to one of the most epic fishing season in living memory. If I am correct, all species of fish will be caught in higher numbers this year.

Bluefin Earlier and Later - Bluefin prefer colder water than other species of tuna, and so it is likely that they will arrive early in the season, say May 1st. Then the bite will drop off somewhat mid summer, and about late October, go back into full swing. They will be further offshore also.

Of course, nature has a way of foiling all predictions of men, and in the end we will just have to wait and see. But if this season is anything like the last El Nino cycle, grab your gear and let's go!

The Most Effective Tuna Techniques for 2023

There are a variety of techniques that anglers can use to catch summer pelagic species. Here is what we recommend heading into the 2023 Socal Sport Fishing season.

Kite Fishing with Frozen Flying Fish

If what you want is bluefin, and you want a big bluefin... there is no better bait to use than a flying fish. Frozen on a toothpick and flown from a kite. By Flying it from a kite you completely remove the fishing line, and any evidence of your presence, from the view of the fish below the surface. All they see is there favorite food. Even the boat can stay far enough away that they can not even hear you coming. Also, using a large frozen flying fish with a kite will generally yield the larger than average tuna.

Flying Fish as Bait

This would be my number one pick, but it is unobtanium. About the only thing better than fishing from the kite with frozen flying fish, is to free line LIVE flying fish, but good luck trying to find it. You cant buy it, you have to make it... by first finding them, using a spotlight to bring them to the surface, and then netting them. By netting, I mean a long stick with a net. Its very hard to do, but if you can manage it, you have tuna cotton candy, and the next day fishing will be exciting. Strait to the bait tank to keep them alive.

Modern Fishing Lines and Equipment

Believe it or not, one of the biggest differences between an angler who lands a tuna and the angler who does not is his LINE, how much of it he has, what he is using as a leader, the KNOT, and the reel its all attached to. Make sure you have the latest and greatest, or at least well maintained and reliable tackle and knots that work.


Both Rapalla and Nomad trolling lures are very effective. Some of the biggest fish I ever caught, and didnt catch, were using these lures. Trolling involves dragging a lure or bait behind a boat, hoping to attract the attention of passing bluefin tuna. On the hookup, everybody not hooked up switches to live bait or surface irons, in a hurry.


Jigging involves using a weighted lure to imitate the movements of a baitfish, in an effort to trick a bluefin tuna into biting. Glow in the dark flat falls on the back side of San Clemente before dawn is a deadly strategy, and a long ride. All of our US WATERS overnight and multiday trips usually use this technique if conditions are right.

Live-bait Free Lining

The ORIGINAL way to catch tuna, no sinker, just let it swim! Live-bait involves using sardines or mackerel, to attract tuna, dorado, yellowtail, and what ever else might be lurking.

The Best Fishing Spots for Tuna 2023

The 2023 summer season is expected to bring exciting fishing opportunities for anglers looking to target tuna off the coast of San Diego. With warmer water temperatures due to the El Nino event, anglers can expect to find tuna in new and different areas. In this article, we will highlight some of the best tuna fishing spots off the coast of San Diego for the summer of 2023.

San Clemente Islands

The San Clemente Islands is, and has always been, a common staple of the San Diego Tuna fisherman. Behind these islands you can and will find trophy tuna, of the blue variety. You will also find challenging environments, and days with no luck. But if you want the biggest bluefin, here is one of the top three places you will find them. If there not here, check the Tanner, and Cortez Banks below.

Tanner Bank

Well what can you say, its definitely a long bumpy ride out there. Its over 100 miles offshore, and behind the San Clemente Islands, by a ways. Surrounding this shallower shelf, known as the tanner bank, are depths that make your head spin. That is why the bait fish, big bluefin tuna, and hungry yellowfin all congregate here. This spot is literally in the middle of nowhere, and you will likely be the only boat on this spot, even when its busy elsewhere. Low pressure fishing. On most days, if you look in every direction you will see nothing for as far as the eye can see.

Cortez Bank

As you can see on the map to the left, and below, the Cortez Bank is a large flat high underground flat that with deep fast dropping edges. It is also outside the normal range for most small and medium size vessels, at over 100 miles offshore. Along with the considerable distance to get there, there is also rough seas that have to be planned for, and/or avoided all together. The sum of these things make this a "high value spot" with "low angler pressure". The perfect combination needed when chasing hard to find species like tuna, dorado, marline, and other palegic game fish. Lots of boat pressure is a know way to turn off a bite, but if you go here, you will most likely be the only one within sight..

Outer Banks

The Outer Banks are a number of high spots that are behind and to the south west of San Clemente Island. They go by many funny names, but they all share one thing in common, they hold big tuna. Further south than the Cortez and Tanner Banks, these spots fall both into US and Mexican waters, so check with your Captain before you go, as to which license you will need.

Mexican Waters

The 421, the 390, the 378, the 213, Airplane,  the 427 , and the Hidden Banks are all examples of great tuna spots in Mexican Waters. The most important thing to know about spots like these is that they are not within 12 miles of Mexican land. Now you may think, why is that important? Good question mi amigo, you do not need a passport, just a Mexican fishing license. You are in international waters so no passport or visa is required!

Furthermore, the fishing is unpressured, and there are many many spots very close together. This allows you to try many spots in fast succession and nail the bluefin of your choice.

Coronado Islands, Mexico

The Coronado Islands are a go to spot year round. This spot produces Yellowtail, Rockfish, Lingcod, Halibut all winter, and Tuna, Dorado, Yellowtail all summer. You can't go wrong by heading to this island. The only downside is that there are a lot of sealions, who like to eat your bait, and your catch. Once you hook up, dial the drag up and get that fish on the boat. 

One other benefit of the island is that if you fishing inside, which is most of the time, your vessel is protected from both wind and swell. On a rough day, that is a great bonus.

The 9-Mile Bank

The 9-Mile Bank is a popular fishing spot for tuna in San Diego. This underwater plateau is located 9 miles from the Point Loma Peninsula and offers a prime habitat for tuna, as well as other species of pelagic fish. The 9-Mile Bank is a great spot for anglers who are looking for an offshore fishing experience.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is quite famous for many reasons, but fishing is perhaps the greatest thing about the island. White sea bass have made a last hold out here, and if you want this species, Farnsworth bank on the back side is a great place to look. During the summer months you will also find yellowfin, bluefin, dorado, yellowtail, in the deeper waters off the backside of the island.

One of our most popular excursions is a weekender to the island. Fish all day, and stay in Avalon Harbor at night. If you want to go on this trip you must choose a six pack vessel. Up to six anglers. All meals and tackle are included on this tip. 

Here is a interactive Google Map with GPS coordinates for all the major spots in the San Diego Region.

Click on a spot within the maps for additional details.

Sustainability and the Future of Bluefin Tuna

Sustainability is a major concern when it comes to the future of bluefin tuna, as overfishing has led to declines in the population of this species. Some of the measures that are being taken to ensure the sustainability of bluefin tuna include:

Preparing Your Catch: Tips and Tricks

Once you have caught your bluefin tuna, it's important to prepare it properly in order to preserve its delicate flavor and texture. Some tips and tricks for preparing bluefin tuna include:

Captain Trevor of the Nautilus is known for making the best sushi in the fleet!

The Benefits of Eating Tuna

In addition to being a sought-after delicacy, tuna offers a variety of health benefits. Some of the benefits of eating bluefin tuna include:

Ask you Captain for Sashimi

Your Captain and crew for Sashimi can make it on the way home.

Meals and Beverages are included.

On any trip longer than 12 hours, all meals and drinks included.

Regulations and Licenses

It is important to note that there are regulations and licenses required for fishing in San Diego waters. You will need to obtain a fishing license and follow all of the rules and regulations set forth by the state of California to ensure a successful and legal fishing trip. Check with your Captain and crew if you need help or call us at 619.508.7823 with any questions you might have.



The 2023 San Diego Tuna Season is a great opportunity for anglers and seafood enthusiasts to enjoy the beauty and excitement of San Diego's abundant tuna population. With the right preparation and techniques, you can have a successful and enjoyable fishing trip. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, the 2023 San Diego Tuna Season is the perfect time to experience the thrill of catching these giant fish. Text us, call us, ask for a quote, we are always here to help!