Half Moon Bay center of the universe for California salmon fishermen
By DAVE HURLEY
HALF MOON BAY – “It’s what we felt was coming,” said Sherry Ingles of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, continuing with, “When I got to the shop on Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m., the parking lot at the launch ramp was filled, and there were 50 trailers lined up along Highway 1. This is just like the old days, and at least one private boat that started trolling at 6:00 a.m. posted limits within 10 minutes. Our boats, the Queen of Hearts and six-pack Reel Screamer, have been limiting every day, and to show what an amazing season this has been so far, we have already landed over 100 salmon more than we landed the entire season last year, and we still have until October 31 to add to this total. This shouldn’t change for some time as there is a big spot of fish out there. Limits every day have been the rule for the past several days, and these have been some big fish to over 20 pounds.”
Captain Michael Cabanas of the New Captain Pete has also been getting in on the act with limits every trip including 21 limits on Sunday. Captain Tom Mattusch, formerly of Half Moon Bay’s Huli Cat, said, “I received a call from Dave Ressa who chartered the Mooch Better for a birthday trip with friends. There was an opening, was I interested? If you haven’t heard of the epic salmon bite going on now, get out from under your rock! I knew Dewey, just met Pablo his Skipper/Deckhand. The question came up, like any fishing trip – out to Deep Reef or down to Pigeon Point where the terrific bite has been. Yesterday’s word was Deep Reef, however there are jelly and some small fish. Pigeon took a while to get located, boats did well on a good grade of fish. Captain Dew and Dave opted for the Deep Reef bite, and we were not disappointed. There were lots of jelly; however, it was workable, especially with the grade of fish we were catching at 32 to 45 feet on the wire with bait on homemade wire hooks with no junk. As a reminder for newer folks, ‘junk’ refers to lures. Several fish got away, still, we had limits for passengers and crew by 11:30 a.m., then went rockfishing at the Deep Reef.
Since salmon were on board, we crimped the barbs on the shrimp flies, and didn’t use bait. The fish were marking well on the meter, and we gave it around 40 minutes for nary a rockfish bite. I’m thinking the water is still a little too cold. 4 out of 16 salmon were fin clipped, and the heads headed to the research station. For the record, 4 downriggers, Mooch Better has good gear, not necessary to bring your own. Captain Dew and Pablo initially ran 6 rods, 2 with sinker release and a 1-lb. weigh ‘way back’. With the action we were having, the two ‘waybacks’ were unnecessary. A number of City boats were down as well, the Lovely Martha, Hog Heaven and others. Locally, Riptide, Queen of Hearts were in on the action with early limits as well.”
The rockfish are biting when you have time to get into them as the Riptide posted 11 limits and 10 lings on Saturday with the Ankeny Street returning with 15 limits and a ling. Pick your species of choice and hang on right now out of Half Moon Bay.
It’s all happening in Monterey Bay – name your species and go
By ALLEN BUSHNELL
SANTA CRUZ – It’s angler’s choice all around Monterey Bay these days. All species are present and well accounted for. Anglers are enjoying bountiful catches of rockfish and lingcod, big barred surf perch, halibut big and small and consistent counts of high-grade king salmon. The only thing missing is tuna at this point. With all the bait in the bay and water temperatures warming, we may see the return of bluefin catches soon. Windy days are still a factor along the bay. When is it going to end? We are waiting for definitive summertime conditions to settle in, with calm foggy mornings gradually transitioning to 5 to 15 knot winds in the afternoons. All too often over the past three months it has blown all night, leaving the ocean a mess in the mornings.
Charter boat reports show skippers are still willing to chase king salmon. The bite is up and down, but overall, very consistent. Even the big boats from Chris’s Fishing and Whale Watching Trips in Monterey are scheduling regular salmon mooching trips. This week the Caroline and Check Mate posted bountiful scores averaging around a fish and a half per rod. Many if not most of the kings are of the larger variety weighing18-30 pounds each. Rockfish trips from Chris’s continue to post full limits of cod with an occasional ling in the mix.
Smaller six-pack boats working out of Santa Cruz can take their pick of prey, depending on yesterday’s bite and today’s weather. Go Fish Santa Cruz sent the beautiful Miss Beth out for salmon, rockfish, or dedicated halibut trips in the space of this week. Halibut are plentiful, but many are short, so back in the drink they go. Still, nearly every client aboard the flatty hunting forays are going home with at least one delicious California halibut. Their rockfishing trips are netting limits, and the two salmon forays from this week provided crew limits up to 27 pounds for the Miss Beth. Tom Dolan on the Mega-Bite went for salmon on Tuesday and reported, “Perfect weather and flat calm water today. The fall run salmon are here and there’s a lot of big fish coming up the coast now. Today our biggest was 25 pounds and the smallest was 18. Jackie, Pooja and Kim pulled them in like pros!” Rodney Armstrong from Santa Cruz Coastal hit it big on the rock fish in and around Santa Cruz. On Friday, Armstrong said, “Today was a red hot rock fish bite. We had five limits of rock fish and one 15-pound lingcod. Then we went and drifted for halibut. We landed three halibut but just one was a keeper.”
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine is always good for the general overview around the bay. Fraser reported on Saturday saying, “The salmon fishing was good on the east edge of the Soquel Hole today. The anglers had good action 40 to 100 feet down. There was bait boiling on the surface and some anglers had quick limits trolling Krippled Anchovies 40 feet down. The anglers near Mulligan Hill found some nice fish and limits as well. The halibut are still biting near Capitola. The rock fishing was good near Davenport. The weather was calm all morning.
Meanwhile, surfcasters are finding more, and bigger barred surf perch every day. Whether from the ‘in town’ beaches or the broad stretches of mid-bay, the bite can be fast and furious. There are tons of small perch biting voraciously but most outings also feature big-shouldered bruisers in the 13-to 15-inch range. Many of these perch are gravid females. Conscientious surfcasters prefer to release the pregnant perch quickly. Shock and hormones generated during the fight can cause them to expel their young prematurely. Learn how to identify male vs. female and remember every one of those babies, if spewed out in your cooler on your drive home will count against your total catch for the day. You can bring home one fish and get home with an illegal bag limit. Plus, those babies are important to keep the species strong and robust not only for next year but also future generations.