BY HUNT CONRAD
BODEGA BAY – I couldn’t sleep. I kept waking up every hour or so to look at the alarm clock. Finally, at about 3:00 a.m. I got up and the coffee was already going. It was Saturday and the long-awaited Salmon opener was finally here. After I got dressed, I checked the weather. The Bodega Offshore Observing Node, which is located just off of Bodega Head, showed that there was 18 knots of northwesterly. “Ahh $%&*.” My captain texted shortly thereafter and told me to go back to sleep, that we weren’t going. I was definitely bummed out, and I reluctantly went back to bed. I got up around 6:30 to a text telling me that my captain was headed down to work on the boat, and that we might go out and see what the weather was like on the outside. I had already planned to take the day off so onward I went.
We did end up launching the boat and as it turned out the swell was almost nonexistent. What wind we had at 12 to 14 knots just wasn’t an issue so we made our way out to 240 feet of water just off Salmon Creek. We came across huge schools of bait — so much that it blacked out the sonar screen, and we put the rods in. First fish was a silver and so was the second and the third. We finally put in a nice king of about 12 pounds and for the next 2 hours we hooked and released over 20 silver salmon before we managed our limits of beautiful king salmon from 12 to 18 pounds. The fish came from 80 to 120 feet down on the wire on Apexes and hoochies.
In hindsight, I realized that I had forgot what I already knew. If the wind and the swell add up to 22 or less, it is fishable. Anything over that and it will be uncomfortable or dangerous. The wind on Saturday was 15-plus and the swell was 4 feet totaling 19 and very doable in the 26- foot Farallon.
Other salmon reports from the sportboats were excellent both days. Rick Powers of the 62- foot New Sea Angler was gushing about, “The best salmon opener in many years.” Powers put his clients onto 27 limits of king salmon on Saturday with another 29 limits of salmon on Sunday and that went along with limits of rockfish both days along with a few lings. Powers said, “Salmon fishing was phenomenal to say the least with a 10-pound average and plenty of fish in the
teens to low 20’s. Chris Khoury from Vacaville landed a 16- and a 19-pound salmon. Michelle Velasquez a limit at 22 and 14 pounds to go with an 8-pound vermilion and a 5-pound copper rockfish.” Powers reported also going through a lot of silver salmon and heard that guys were getting tickets at the launch ramp for bringing them in. Be careful and know how to identify your fish.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds recreational anglers to be vigilant about species identification when pursuing Chinook salmon in California’s ocean fisheries. The harvest of coho (or silver) salmon is strictly pro-hibited to protect the state’s threatened or endangered coho salmon stocks. Coho salmon can be distinguished from Chinook salmon by the coloration of the gums on the lower jaw — the gums at the base of the bottom teeth on a coho salmon are gray, whereas Chinook salmon gums are all black.