Year of the trophy kings off Sonoma with intermittent seabass

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GHOSTS LURKING OFF SONOMA — Mike Krieger of Sausalito poses with a 78-pound white seabass he caught on a private boat out of Bodega Bay. This is the second large white seabass on that boat in the past two weeks.
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BY HUNT CONRAD

BODEGA BAY – Three years ago out of Bodega Bay, all we were catching were 20- to 22-inch salmon. In fact, it was hard to catch a legal 22-inch salmon at the time. You might have to go through 10 fish before you’d get a legal one. Well guess what… they are all grown up now!

When asked about the fantastic size of the salmon being caught, Rick Powers, skipper of the New Sea Angler said, “I haven’t seen big fish like this in 10 to 15 years. We certainly haven’t seen any in the last 3 to 4 years.” Powers ought to know a little about what he is talking about. Just last Sunday, Marcus Yoo from Cupertino caught a legitimate 40-pound salmon while mooching. Earlier in the week, Eric Larson from Roseville landed a 35-pound salmon, with James Barker from Pismo Beach landing a 32-pound salmon mooching on the New Sea Angler. These are big salmon. But I will say that not everyone is getting them. There were maybe 200 private boats out on Saturday and venturing a guess, the average was maybe a fish per boat at best. The south wind makes it tough, and in the vernacular of fishermen, “Wind from the south, fish close their mouth.” In addition, as already stated, the fish are big and there aren’t a lot of anglers experienced enough to catch these bruisers. A 20-pound test rig that is a couple of years old isn’t going to cut it. Minimum brand new 25-pound premium line is the starting point for monofilament, and average boat skills won’t get it done either. The ocean conditions have been tough and with the south wind and north swell it is very difficult to handle the boat with a big fish in a lot of traffic in those conditions. Having a a good net man on the boat is also a big advantage. These big fish will rip 100 yards of line testing any weakness, and then slug it out near the bottom and then when they get close, they seem to know exactly where the prop is or that rod that wasn’t cleared is a or the down rigger ball that is seemingly harmless flopping in the water. That is their job…To survive and many do! For every two that are hooked, maybe there is one that is landed.

The other big fish in the area that has made a recent appearance as of late is “the Ghost”, aka white seabass. There were two that I heard of that were caught out of Bodega Bay last week. Mike Krieger of Sausalito brought one to Bodega Tackle that weighed in at 78 pounds and Karl and Otto Kobler of Santa Rosa brought another huge one estimated at 70 pounds since the weight was not confirmed as of press time. Both huge fish were landed mooching. And then there is the phenomenal rock fishing right now as Powers is reporting limits on every trip along with 4 to 6 quality lingcod. If you want to catch a lot of fish and a fish of a lifetime, now is the time to come to Bodega Bay!

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The salmon bite out of Fort Bragg slowed down over the past few days as clear water has moved into the region, but Captain Tim Gillespie of All Aboard Adventures said, “Rockfishing is wide open with 25 limits taken during one long drift on Saturday with one angler leaving with a 50-pound sack of rockfish including 5 quillbacks, 3 vermilion, a copper, and a 4-pound olive. The rockfish bit throughout the entire length of the drift.”

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