By ALLEN BUSHNELL
SANTA CRUZ – After a fairly decent salmon opener on Monterey Bay, Mother Nature decided to send some vexation to all those suffering from salmon fever. King salmon were scattered across the bay last week with scores ranging from skunks to full limits of fish of up to 30 pounds. Sadly, fishing conditions deteriorated as last week progressed. Heavy winds created wind swells up to 10 feet and made it impossible to fish. Prior to the winds, catching salmon on the Monterey Bay was quite a decent proposition. Most boats mustered one or two fish, others caught a fish per rod and even limits for some.
As this current week opened, conditions calmed down, especially in the morning. Monday’s salmon fishing was good, and each day it got better and better. Rodney Armstrong from Santa Cruz Coastal Fishing Charters counted salmon limits on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. On Tuesday he said, “Just four of us today. We were done in 20 minutes. Some of the most wide-open fishing I’ve seen. Trying to get rods out of the water because we were done and they were still biting. Had to catch and release a few.” Wednesday’s fishing was just as good if not better for Armstrong who reported, “Today was one of the best bites I’ve ever witnessed. We had the client limits of 12 fish by 7:45 a.m., and then got our crew limits (four) not too long after.” Friday’s weather was bad but the weekend made up for one lost fishing day. Armstrong got about a fish per rod on Saturday. Sunday paid off big time. The skipper recounted, “Today was great! We had whales and bait everywhere. We went six for nine with three shakers. Then three sea lions got behind us so we had to pick up our gear and get out of there. We ran like four miles away from them and started fishing again. We hooked five more and landed the last four we needed for limits.”
The salmon are still spread across the bay, with the best bite centering on Mulligan’s Hill near Moss Landing and the Soquel Hole area. Chris’s Fishing and Whale Watching Trips from Monterey is averaging more than a fish per rod while mooching, which indicates the bait and the salmon are grouping up nicely. On Friday, Chris Arcoleo reported full limits for of 28 salmon for the 14 clients aboard the Check Mate. Many anglers from Moss Landing and Santa Cruz headed north towards Davenport to find wide-open fishing in that area. JT Thomas on the Miss Beth counted quick limits while fishing somewhere “North of the Soquel Hole.” Tuesday’s report from JT said, “We are starting to feel sorry for our deckhand. JP had to clean, filet and bag fourteen kings. Yesterday it was sixteen salmon!” On Wednesday the hits just kept on coming for JT and company. “Today we landed twelve nice king salmon and lost one to a sea lion throwing back a shaker. We were back at the dock by 11:00 a.m.,” Thomas reported.
Tom Joseph who runs the speedy Four-Pack Sara Bella returned to the Santa Cruz launch from his stint working out of Half Moon Bay last week. Joseph is a very determined skipper who goes where the fish are. He reported on Sunday saying, “Tried to get back up to Davenport just not in the cards today due to swell and wind so we went to plan B to fish off Pajaro in 250 feet of water and boated 3 limits of salmon. We lost a few and released 5 shakers another good day.” Most private boaters are enjoying the limit-style fishing, many reporting a return to the docks before 9:00 a.m. with the coolers full.