Chris' Fishing Trips
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Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866


January 24, 2015    Headlines

Winter Perch and Crabs

Chris’s Landing hasn’t been on a combination sand dab/Dungeness crab trip since Monday, but they are going over the weekend. We will update reports on Sunday but all recent trips have been very successful!

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Salty anglers still have plenty to pursue on Monterey Bay. Dungeness crab, winter sand dabs, plentiful surfperch and the occasional exotic bonita can keep boaters busy on the Bay.
Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey continues to welcome their boats back to port with limits of Dungeness crab and “buckets” of sand dabs. The reports from Chris’ this week are nearly identical. Chris Arcaleo reported Monday “Lot’s of Sanddabs & Limits (48) Dungeness crab for eight anglers on the Check Mate.” Saturday and Sunday also featured limits or near-limits of crab, and all the ‘dabs the anglers cared to keep.
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reports similar crabbing success on the Santa Cruz side of the Bay and adds, “The surfperch are on the bite here at the Harbor Beach and 26th Ave. The winds are down and there is a small swell.” Local private angler reports indicate the beaches from Rio Del Mar down to Del Monte Beach in Monterey remain very consistent for barred surf perch and the occasional striped bass. It’s a bit more hit or miss on Santa Cruz “town” beaches but on average, one out of three tries is successful, and they are big fish this year!
Stagnaro’s Sportfishing has exciting news. Skipper Ken Stagnaro announced “From January 5th thru February 5th our main vessel Velocity will be in the shipyard undergoing a complete re-powering. She will soon be powered by engines that meet the latest EPA standards in clean burning, fuel saving marine motors. Meanwhile we will have our smaller six-pack charter vessel Sea Stag Six available for charter for January.” The Velocity is a relatively new boat, and the complete re-powering will keep Stagnaro’s beautiful flagship running sweetly.
While local rivers and streams are in desperate need of water, the northern coastal rivers have had some rain recently and are coming into good shape for steelhead fishing. If you like to catch these big ocean-going trout, it is really worth the time and expense to take the trip north.
We heard from River’s Edge Fishing Guide Micah Woolworth this week, fresh from a successful trip on one of the rivers near Arcata. “The new steelhead season has had its ups and downs. The rivers were blown out for most of November to the New Year. Every day has been different. It would appear that the average day is anywhere from one to five opportunities or fish per boat. The good news is that all the fish coming to the boat are BIG! The average fish is weighing about 10-12 pounds up to the high teens. It’s still early for the new season! With 1.5-2” of rain last Friday and Saturday, the rivers should start to fish around mid-week. I expect a fresh push of winter steelhead to come with the decreasing flows.”
Locally, steelhead season lasts until March 7.  With any luck, we’ll get some rain in our area, and see some fish coming up our area streams and creeks soon. Also, remember to send in or report your steelhead and other individual species report cards to the Department of fish and Wildlife by January 31, 2015.  This is not only a legal responsibility, but assists the DFW in maintaining an accurate assessment of fish populations and system health.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing reported solid crab action with 11 limits of Dungeness on Monday 1-19 to go with bucketloads of sand dabs. They didn’t target mackerel on this date, but there are plenty of the mackerel in the bay. These are great trips to initiate a young child to the ocean as well as bringing home an extra limit of crab.

Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
The past few weeks we have been highlighting a fantastic perch bite all along the beaches of Monterey Bay. Not only are the barred surfperch and calicos here in big numbers but the quality, or size of fish is truly amazing. Perch in the two-pound class, usually a once-a-year experience for dedicated surfcasters, are being reported with regularity this season.
A few theories have been discussed regarding this sudden bounty as well as some concerns. Local ocean water temperatures have hovered a few degrees above “normal” this winter, prompting many to believe the surfperch bonanza is a result of “southern fish” migrating to our area for feed. This theory is supported by the increased numbers of “blue perch” or half-moon fish being caught near Monterey lately, along with opaleye, another fish more often found in southern California waters. The continued presence of bonita in our area also bolsters this assumption.
And, though catch rates vary day by day, and from beach to beach, there is no arguing we are seeing more perch and bigger perch this year. Ten-fish limits weighing 10 pounds, 15 pounds and even as high as 25 pounds have been tallied in this weekly fish report.  Which brings up the concern of possible overfishing. Especially as the larger perch are more likely female, and most likely gravid at this time of year.
Responsible anglers are most often dedicated conservationists as well.  No one cares more about fish than fishermen. Sadly, there are always a greedy few who will take whatever they can, sometimes within the limits and sometimes while violating Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations.  Ken Oda, a DFW environmental scientist and avid fisherman himself had this to say. “I agree (that) a conservation education reminder message to respect the resource, e.g., gently releasing fish rather than pitching them onto wet sand or belly flopping them from 20’, and keeping only what can be eaten fresh, benefits everyone as well as the resource. Keeping the males over the females could potentially help provided ocean conditions cooperate and ensure survivorship.”
During his angler surveys from 2007-2011 Oda noted many anglers especially those fishing the northern half of Monterey Bay often practiced catch and release while perch fishing. Finding the fish, hooking them up, bringing them in for a quick photo and gentle release is the height of ethical fishing.  Keeping a few to fry up that night is not only completely legal, but an awesome bonus of being an angler.
One of Oda’s DFW co-workers recently completed the Fisheries Review study for 2013.  Kristine Lesyna had this to say regarding perch abundance. “The surfperch assemblage includes seaperch and perch, and encompasses 24 species. Many of California’s marine surfperch are the target of a modest commercial fishery in central and northern California (11.6 t in 2013) and a sizable recreational fishery (exists) throughout the state. The surfperch fisheries in California are solely managed by the Department. No formal stock assessments have been completed for surfperch and the fisheries are considered data-poor; however, there is no indication that surfperch stocks are in decline based on the best available data. Although surfperch stocks do not appear to be declining, their low fecundity and mating and spawning aggregations may cause them to be more vulnerable to fishing.”
Summing up that statement would indicate that the current 10-fish bag limit is reasonable, and that practicing CPR (Catch-Photo-Release) is a responsible and rewarding practice. Get out and practice now, as the annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby is scheduled on March 14, 2015.  Information and entry can be found More info on how and where to catch the elusive surfperch can be found at, or on JD Richey’s eBook, Light Tackle Surf Perch available on Amazon or
Send your photos, comments or questions to
On Wednesday 12-31
Chris’s Landing in Monterey ended the season with a bang with limits of Dungeness crab for 14 anglers along with 21 ling cod and 1/3rd limits of rockfish on the Check Mate while the Caroline returned on New Year’s Eve with limits of rockfish and limits of ling cod for 10 anglers. They will be running sand dab/Dungeness crab combination trips from January 1st through April 3, 2015.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen  Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
HAPPY NEW YEAR! First on the list if you have not done so yet, is to secure your 2015 fishing license.
And, remember to turn in any report cards such as steelhead for the 2014 season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife makes it pretty easy to get a license online. Once you’ve transacted, the DFW will issue a temporary license for your immediate use, while your paper version is received in a week or so.
December 31st also marked the end of RCG Complex fishing in our area. Rockcod, lings and greenlings are off-limnits to boat-based anglers now, until the season opens again in May. We can still fish from the shore for these species, and a few north coast spots as well as the rocky shore of Pacific Grove are proven spots for wintertime shore fishing.
Despite windy and cold conditions, a few hardy souls got out for some last licks on the rockfish. Ken Kaysen and son Tommy, along with Jack Teresi and a couple others took their Tuf Boat to the area near Four-Mile Beach last weekend for limit-style fishing. “We caught 30 gophers, and a few lings. I had two over 20 pounds each caught on live bait,” said the younger Kaysen.
Boaters still have Dungeness crab to trap in the meantime. The crabbing is slowing down, but still a very worthwhile pursuit. Over the next month or so, many crabbers will begin to move their pots closer to the middle part of the bay, the big flat areas on the canyon edges seem to produce better later in the season.
Boaters can also look for the abundant sand dabs in the flat sandy areas, and reports from Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine indicate a good concentration of mackerel and sardines are inshore now, close to the Santa Cruz Harbor. Captiola Boat and Bait reports jacksmelt being caught from the wharf there.
Perch fishing has remained very good from nearly all beaches that ring the Monterey Bay. The central areas closer to Moss Landing seem to be producing best, but anglers are catching barred surf perch and calicos at Del Monte Beach in Monterey, as well as the Live Oak beaches in Santa Cruz. Bigger wave days and especially overcast days seem to be the best for the sometimes elusive perch. The quality of perch this year is impressive. Bob Schneider checked in with a full limit of barred perch that weighed over 10 pounds total.
Send your photos, comments or questions to

The ling cod were on the chomp over the weekend with limits to near limits of lings to 25 pounds on all five trips out of Chris’s Landing.  Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing said, “We had a great day on Saturday 12-27 with the Star of Monterey heading down to Point Sur for 62 ling cod within one hour along with limits of rockfish for 31 anglers.” Crabbing has slowed down with the Check Mate returning with around 4 crab/angler on Saturday along with limits of rockfish and 23 limits of ling cod while the Caroline picked up 2 crab/angler along with 17 limits of ling cod and limits of rockfish. Sunday’s crab counts were in the same neighborhood with the Check Mate scoring 64 Dungeness for 16 anglers along with limits of ling cod and limits of rockfish while the Caroline put in 30 ling cod to a whopping 25 pounds along with limits of rockfish and 4 crab/passenger.

Santa Cruz Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel –
Merry Christmas!  Now it’s time to take that new rod and reel down to the beach for some wintertime surfcasting. 
Steelhead season has been open in our area since December 1.  And, we’ve had plenty of rain that has filled our local rivers and streams with a good flow. With the break in between storms, even the San Lorenzo has cleared up nicely, while the creeks have been clear for a week or so.
But, we have very few reports of steelhead caught locally. Part of the explanation is that steelheaders are a notoriously tight-lipped bunch. Conversely, there are some those who cannot help but brag when they catch the elusive ocean-going trout, and we have heard of only a few caught here and there so far this year. The primary reason for slow steelheading may be that it is just too early. Despite the December rains, steelhead fishing in the Monterey Bay area historically picks up in January and February.  These fish have their own schedule.  Hopefully we will see some significant runs in the New Year.
For now the best alternative of guaranteed action remains in the salt.  Rockfish and lingcod are still legal to catch till the end of the year, weather permitting.  Powerful swells have the tendency to put rockfish off the bite, but lings are more accommodating. Anglers who jig up live bait will have the best results ling cod fishing.  Any rocky or reef area from 40 to 120 feet of water can produce a hefty lingcod.  Hurry up, though.  December 31st marks the close of our 2014 season.
Those same waves inhibiting rockfish are creating perfect conditions for surfperch.  The beautiful long beaches that ring Monterey Bay are a percher’s paradise right now. Pounding surf has created good structure all along the shoreline.  Look for deep holes behind the shorebreak, rip currents and deeper troughs that hold feeding perch.
Many anglers prefer to use lighter gear for perch these days, throwing small grubs or plastic worms beneath a sliding sinker.  Bait works well and is usually dispatched using a pyramid sinker to dig into the sand with a dropper loop and short leader.  Chunks of shrimp or squid will get perch to bite as well as the classic sandcrab presentations.
No matter what you use, where you go or what you are fishing for, please stay safe.  Winter surf can be deceptive with sneaker sets that can easily knock you off your feet.  Rockhopping along the streambeds or climbing the steep trails down to the river provide plenty of opportunity for mishap.  Taking it slow and steady and keeping safety a priority will keep you fishing.
Send your photos, comments or questions to

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing said, “The crab were back on the bite on Tuesday 12-23 with 123 Dungeness crab for 23 anglers along with 34 ling cod and limits of rockfish. The Caroline struggled on the crab with only 16 Dungies for 16 anglers, accompanied by 10 ling cod and 1/4th limits of rockfish. They are still jigging up the Spanish mackerel for the lings and larger rockfish. They are already filled on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and nearly filled this coming Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing reported continued good rockfish and crab action with the Check Mate returning with 22 ling cod, limits of Dungeness crab, and limits of rockfish for 16 anglers on Friday 12-19. He said, “They got a late start since they weren’t able to find the bait in the morning.” They have been jigging up the small Spanish mackerel for the lings. The bonita that were present last Sunday at the Bell Buoy have disappeared. They are booked for the weekend and also on Monday and Tuesday of next week. There is limited room on Wednesday and Friday, but the weekend after Christmas is already booked out for the combination trips. The gray whales are moving back in to the area, but most of the humpbacked whales have left for Mexico. The anchovy schools are still thick around Moss Landing.

Golden Gate Salmon Association Backed Science Convinced Feds to Truck Salmon During Drought
In a huge win for salmon, sport & commercial anglers and farmers the Golden Gate Salmon association announced Monday 3-10 that a study that they paid for has convinced the US Fish and Wildlife Service to truck their baby fall run salmon from Coleman hatchery to Suisun and San Pablo bays. In addition, this science looks to have 100% of all the state hatchery fish from the Feather, American and Mokelumne hatcheries also truck past the problems (pumps) in the Delta.
Recent studies from 2007 to 2112 have shown that over 94% of Fall run salmon smolts released from Coleman never even make it too San Pablo Bay. In fact over 50% of Coleman released fish never survive the first 50 miles of their down stream migration. The Golden Gate Salmon Association paid for a study to clearly shows that trucking especially during the current drought is the ONLY WAY that we can ensure that there will be enough salmon to a have a salmon season in 2016. Without these measures we could see: No ocean sport or commercial salmon season in 2016 and possibly 2017
With these measures we could see a viable if not huge return of Fall run salmon three years from now. Longer term this could support the goal of a fall run of nearly 1 million fish returning the to the Central Valley rivers.
Please see the Golden Gate Salmon Association news release just below. I encourage all readers to support this incredible origination that has just done the impossible. Their science based approach to trucking salmon could be the biggest benefit to this fishery in decades.
Mike Aughney
eds Agree with GGSA Call to Truck Millions of Hatchery Salmon
Contingency plans respond to extreme drought condition

California’s largest salmon hatchery may end up trucking its production this year to the Delta or San Francisco Bay for release due to the extreme drought conditions. Ordinarily the Coleman National Fish Hatchery releases its fish each year into the upper Sacramento River near Redding. From there the baby salmon migrate hundreds of miles downstream to the Delta and, under favorable conditions, on to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific.
Coleman is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and raises approximately 12 million baby salmon annually to help mitigate the impacts of Shasta Dam and federal water operations in the Upper Sacramento River on native salmon stocks. After being presented with overwhelming evidence by the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA – , the USFWS has agreed to transport most, if not all, of its 12 million Coleman Hatchery juvenile salmon the bay or western delta unless expected drought conditions change markedly for the better.
The USFWS made the announcement at a meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Sacramento. The Service acknowledged the arguments GGSA has methodically advanced since December that the continued drought presents a uniquely hostile situation that threatens the survivability of Central Valley Chinook salmon, including the hatchery salmon. GGSA maintains that low, clear, hot river conditions will likely wipe out the hatchery fish if they were dumped into the river.
“GGSA worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to move these fish rather than dump them into a drought stricken river where they’d most likely perish,” said John McManus, executive director of GGSA. “We’re grateful they heard us out and gave this issue the consideration it needs. What this means is we’ll likely have a much better salmon fishing season in 2016, when these fish reach adulthood, then we would have otherwise gotten. This could mean the difference between a shutdown of the fishery in 2016 and a decent year.”
California’s state-operated hatcheries truck much of their production annually for release in the Delta or Bay and the state took a leading role to truck even more this year due to drought impacts on Central Valley rivers. State and federally raised hatchery fish could make up most of 2016’s salmon harvest and spawning escapement.
USFWS’s plans are contingent on the amount and quality of the water in the Sacramento River when the fish are ready for release in April, May and June. The Service told the PFMC meeting it would take a significant "precipitation event" to reverse the plans to truck their fish. Drought conditions are expected to dominate in the Sacramento River and its tributaries in April, May and June.
“Transporting the baby salmon in tanker trucks and releasing them into the bay or western Delta will give them a fighting chance at reaching the ocean,” said GGSA treasurer Victor Gonella.
In addition to hostile river conditions, baby salmon this year are facing the added risk of being pulled to their deaths through the Delta Cross channel, a manmade canal built to divert water to huge pumps that send it to agriculture. Normally the Cross Channel Gates would be closed to allow salmon passage at this time of year but are now being opened when possible to dilute salt water accumulation in the interior Delta caused by the drought.
“Although the drought is creating extremely hostile conditions this year, many years are low water years and the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to transport salmon whenever low water conditions exist in the future,” said GGSA secretary Dick Pool.
A member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council reports the Council will be drafting a letter to the USFWS requesting that it consider a similar approach in the future should drought conditions persist or again deteriorate to levels requiring action.
“As more and more fresh water is extracted from the Sacramento River and Delta for delivery to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness, the salmon’s migration corridor downstream and through the Bay-Delta estuary has become a deadly gauntlet,” said GGSA vice chairman Zeke Grader who is also the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Add drought and the Central Valley rivers and Delta become virtually impassable for salmon.”
GGSA was joined by member fishing groups in working to get the Coleman fish trucked. Members of Congress including Representatives Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson and John Garamendi, Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, George Miller and Mike Honda also supported the efforts.
Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually and about half that much in economic activity again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishing men and women, recreational anglers (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, fishing guides, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association ( is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, a Native American tribe, businesses, restaurants, fishing guides, environmentalists, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley rivers that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon.


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