Chris' Fishing Trips
& Whale Watching

(831) 375-5951

Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866


April 18, 2014    Headlines

Salmon Hit and Miss

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported the barometric pressure dropped once again, and despite tons of anchovies and plenty of fish, the bite is still spotty on Thursday 4-17. The Check Mate returning with 15 salmon for 30 anglers while the Caroline went out with a small load of 5 fishermen with a pair of salmon. There are ‘mountains of bait’ outside of Moss Landing, and Arcoleo said, “If this was June or July, we would be slaughtering them, but the fish are pretty picky right now in April,” The whales are thick in the bay, and whale watching has been excellent. The wind has been coming on the outside, and they have been cancelling their afternoon whale watching trips due to the weather. They have some room on board on Saturday and Sunday since there were a few cancellations this week.

Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
It is almost official now. We have final information regarding our salmon season from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. In meetings with West Coast State Fisheries Departments, the PFMC crunched all the numbers and released their announcement Monday. A final approval should come from the National Marine Fisheries Service by May 1, 2014.
Seasonal regulations for our area below Pigeon Point will be as anticipated earlier this month. While details were somewhat skimpy in the announcement, it clearly stares salmon season for our area will run from April 5 to “at least” October 5 in our area.
Currently, fishing for salmon in the Monterey Bay ranges from good to very good, depending on the day. Carol Jones, owner of Kahuna Sportfishing out of Moss Landing says “
We got limits on the opener then the bite dropped off. It's coming back up now. I think a new batch of fish is coming in the bay right now. We’re averaging a fish per rod to just about a limit per rod again.” The Kahuna, skippered by Donnie Davi, has been fishing the canyon edges off Moss Landing almost exclusively since the opener.
Also concentrating on the big canyon in the middle of the bay, boats from Chris’ Fishing Trips report similar results- big scores for the opener, a bit of a lull as fish scattered due to fishing pressure and a resurgence in numbers within the past few days. “ We averaged
about fish per rod earlier in the week, upping to one and a half per rod by Wednesday,” said owner Chris Arcoleo.

On the Santa Cruz side of the bay, we are seeing more salmon caught from the Soquel Hole area. Captain Jimmy Charters has been fishing nearly every day. Jim Rubin reported good results on Wednesday. “We worked hard and were rewarded with eight nice king salmon for our six anglers. We had an open charter today, with three separate groups of people who all saw some action. We had two doubles, two triples and a single. We lost two, and also lost one to a bull sea lion.”
Skipper Tom Joseph has been launching from Santa Cruz since the opener. A beautiful little Steiger Craft, the Sara Bella is a “four-pack” operation that Joseph can trailer to whichever port is hot at the moment. Lately he’s been working away from the fleet, fishing off of Natural Bridges up towards the Three Trees area, and doing well. “
Our party hooked 18 fish today putting six in the boat to 13 pounds,” Joseph reported on Monday. Plenty of private boaters are returning to port with early limits, though a few skunks are still being reported.
Halibut fishing is heating up as well, with an increase of reports of flatties caught in the harbor area as well as Capitola. The halibut are migrating in slowly, with most reported caught in the 40-60 feet of water range. Live anchovies or anchovy-colored swimbaits are doing the trick for the big flatfis
Bushnell can also be heard on The Let's Go Fishing Radio Show Thursdays at 8 p.m. on KSCO radio 1080 AM. Send your photos, comments or questions to

Monterey Bay
After a slow weekend we saw scores uptick on
Monday 4-14. Out of Monterey Chris' had three boats out. The Caroline had 10 fish for 15 anglers, the Check Mate had 8 for 20 and the Star reported 9 for 24 anglers. Boats were fishing from Mulligan to Moss Landing working the canyon edges. A few private boats took up to three limits but overall a bit better action than we saw this weekend so hopefully that trend continues.

Santa Cruz:
Tom on the Fish On ran north to above Two Trees where he landed just one fish on Sunday. Working along the .05 line in 230 feet of water they hooked 15 fish on Monday 4-14 landing 6 to 13 pounds. Tom said his group worked hard and all their action came in flurries of two to four at a time. There was a good bite in the afternoon but a double at 3:Pm when he turned too hard into the hookups he wrapped the downrigger cable and that ended their day. Tom said the conditions look great with lots of feed but with the windy weather forecast doesn't think he can make it up here on Tuesday.

The salmon bite in the south and central bay continues to slow down. Out of Chris's in Monterey the Checkmate had 6 for 23, the Star 4 for 24 and the Carline had 2 for 18 anglers. Maybe it's just a coincidence but ever since the bait boats moved in the salmon have scattered. Private boats fishing from Moss Landing to Soquel hole saw 0 to 4 fish scores. Most of the fish being hooked have been 140 + feet. Chris's has lots of space available.

Santa Cruz
Tom on the Fish On ran north to Two Trees where he ended his day on Friday. Tom said there were a few fish caught early and once the news was out the fleet moved in. He worked up the hill roughly five miles and found some action in the early afternoon. Fishing in 260 feet of water they landed 6 fish for 4 anglers. These fish were a smaller grade running 6 to 12 pounds and Tom says they were up high at 50 to 70 feet. Tom has room this week.

Santa Cruz
We received a good report late Friday 4-11 afternoon from Tom on the six-pack Fish On. Tom ran north and (not too far) and reported 5 limits to 25 pounds. He found bait, whales and dark green water and most importantly fish. Tom was not willing to provide his exact location but said they were in 230 feet of water and got all their action at 130 to 170' OTW. Again not too far is the big hint here. Good Luck!

Chris again reported a bit slower action than what was experienced earlier in the week. On Friday 4-11 the Check Mate was the Monterey highliner with 18 salmon to 16 pounds. The Star of Monterey had 11 keepers and 25 shakers for a crew of 21 and the Caroline had 6 salmon for 14 anglers. They have been working the Mulligan Hill and Soldier's Club area.
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing reported a slower bite on Thursday 4-10 with their three boats combining for 34 salmon for 57 fishermen. He said, “The fish started to go off of the bite on Wednesday afternoon, and the barometer has been dropping, likely causing the bite to slow down.” He added, “There is an unbelievable amount of anchovies in the canyon, and there have been a few hundred boats out every day in the same area,” adding, “Our boats have been staying out of the mix working around the Soldier’s Club.” They are full through the weekend and already 3/4thfull for Monday.

Santa Cruz Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
The eagerly awaited opener for ocean salmon last Saturday lived up to most of our expectations. While a few“skunks” were reported, most boats landed fish and many caught limits. Location was the key, with the canyon edges out of Moss landing providing the most fertile fishing on Monterey Bay. Salmon season opened along the entire coast below Horse Mountain on Saturday, and the best fishing is right in our backyard. Half Moon Bay Boats struck out and San Francisco skippers headed up towards Pt. Reyes to find some fish. Ports to the north such as Bodega Bay had windy conditions that kept many boats at the dock, though fish were caught in that area.
Locally the hot spot has been Moss Landing. All three boats from Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey returned with full limits Saturday by 10am on Saturday. Owner Todd Arcoleo was adamant last week that his fleet would score opener limits, and he was absolutely correct. That’s 170 fresh king salmon for the 85 anglers hosted by the Arcoleo’s on their three charter boats.
Vessels from Santa Cruz quickly keyed in on the canyon edges near Moss Landing as well. Ken Stagnaro is very excited about the good showing of salmon in the bay. “The salmon are biting! Our new six-pack the Sea Stag got limits of fish trolling down riggers. It was definitely a morning bite though. The big boat Velocity was mooching and had wide-open action early but the bite fizzled after 10 am. We had our chances early and managed to get 50 fish for 31 anglers.” Captain Jimmy Charters also trolled up limits in that area for the opener. “We landed limits for our anglers today along with two crew fish. A total of ten fish, we also lost two others. We had two doubles and landed a triple! There is a lot of bait in the bay so the fish should stick around.” said Skipper Jim Rubin last Saturday.
And thankfully, the fish have stuck around. Our Monterey Bay salmon bite has remained fairly consistent, with most fish caught off Moss Landing. Depending on the day, the concentrations of bait and salmon might be found on the north or south side of the canyon, and many fish were caught on the inside flats. Skippers need be cautious when trolling the inside, as there are still plenty of crab pots deployed in the area to catch on their gear. And, as Stagnaro mentioned, it is definitely a morning bite. The big baitballs, so obvious at dawn, seem to scatter as the morning progresses. Fish are still caught by the one’s and two’s, but the earlier the better so far this season.
A variety of bait and lures are doing the trick. Purple Haze Hoochies, Apex lures, straight bait (anchovies) and even spoons are doing the job. Trolling with flashers in pink or red seems to be the preferred method during this early season, but mooching can also produce limits, as Chris’ Fishing Trips has demonstrated so capably. And to clear up some confusion, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will determine the final specifics for salmon season in meetings over the next two weeks. April 30
th only marks the end of our “temporary”regulations, not the end of salmon season.
On a side note, it looks like it might be halibut time as well. Noted kayak angler Mike Sapp chimed in on Wednesday. He found his fish in 40 feet of water in front of the Santa Cruz Harbor. Sapp stuck the 14-pound flatty using a Big Hammer swimbait for his early-season success.
Bushnell can also be heard on The Let's Go Fishing Radio Show Thursdays at 8 p.m. on KSCO radio 1080 AM. Send your photos, comments or questions to

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.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported no trips have gone out for the past two days, but they are heading out on a sand dab/Dungeness trip on Friday 3-7 and Saturday with another trip on Sunday if there is enough interest. He said, “Commercial anchovy fishermen are reporting large schools of anchovies from Capitola up the coast to New Year’s Island, but there are thousands of sea lions working the anchovies.” The marauding fur bags may prove problematic come salmon season.

Salmon Abundance Numbers Expected to Remain Solid In 2014
Fishery managers expect another solid salmon season in 2014. On Wednesday 2-26 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife held a meeting in Santa Rosa on the state of the salmon fishery. The expected "ocean abundance" for Sacramento Valley fall run chinook is 635,000. This compares to a preseason forecast in 2013 of 863000 Central Valley fall run or about 25% fewer fish.
Ocean abundance numbers for the second largest producer, the Klamath river are forecast to be roughly 300,000.
Central Valley Salmon account for as much as 90% of all king salmon that are harvested along the California coast and account for over 50% of king salmon caught along the Oregon coast. All in all this year's forecast if accurate (which is a big if) would be the second highest numbers since 2005.
Restrictions this coming season like the Monday / Tuesday closures we saw in June and July of 2013 likely won't happen this year. Returning numbers of endangered winter run salmon were nearly double last year and those closures were meant to protect winter run from over-harvest.
Ocean feed conditions have been incredibly healthy the past three years and if that trend continues they are other reasons to be optimistic. Fishery managers expect the numbers of fall run chinook on the Columbia river to blow out the record season set last year. In 2013 over 1 million kings returned to the Columbia, the highest return since Bonneville dam was constructed in the late 1930s. The previous record was roughly a half million fish. This year 1.6 million kings are expected to return to the Columbia. Fishery managers there are asking for increased bag limits and that some wild fish be allowed in the sport fishery. If ocean feed conditions remain healthy along the Northern and Central California coast some of these Columbia fish could end up on local angler's tables.
Reality Check:
Aside from the WAG presented by CDFW for next season there are other observations to go on. There were fair numbers of "shaker" salmon seen in the late fall of 2013 off the Golden Gate and Bodega bay but not huge numbers by a historical contrast. Many of these fish were under 12" and will likely not be of catchable size until later in 2014. Eureka based six packs did see lots of 18 to 24"  (two year olds) in their catches late last season and these fish will be of catchable size this spring. 
The Pacific Fishery Management Council will release season options and restrictions in March but most expect that we will see the Central coast salmon season open in early April. We will be updating readers on the options in the coming weeks. In the time being get your boat prepped and those party boat reservations made. Despite the current drought 2014 could shape up to be a fairly solid year.
I will have some incredible news about what the Golden Gate Salmon Association
has been doing behind the scenes soon. They are working hard get more Central Valley fish to ocean during the current drought. If they are successful we could see much less of an impact on the ocean abundance numbers in 2016. More on this later as the exact plan is still in the "works" but I promise you once released this news will be HUGE!.
Please support this great organization that has been so successful in protecting and enhancing our salmon fisheries. Please visit their website for information on their fishery rebuilding plan and all the enhancement projects they are currently working on.  Their next dinner is in Santa Rosa on April 4th. Tickets can be purchased here
. You will want to make reservations soon as the dinner is already 2/3s sold out. Their Sonoma dinner is sold out but there are dinners planned for Marin and a possible return to the Sacramento area later this year.

Regulations for the MLPAs are now in effect from Pt Arena to Pigeon Point. Anglers need to know which areas are affected and the regulations and the boundaries of the different zones. Please use this link and be sure to print a map for these areas to carry with you. 

Upcoming Events:
USAFishing proudly supports the many fishery and wildlife organizations that benefit anglers and hunters throughout Northern California. Does your organization have an upcoming event? Contact us at and we will gladly post the information on our reports pages.

Golden Gate Salmon Association Events Calendar

California Waterfowl Dinners and Youth Events Calendar

Be sure to check out the California Fish and Game regulations before you go. Regulations vary and you need to pay attention to bait and hook restrictions.  

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5-day plot - Wind Speed at 46042

5-day plot - Wave Height at 46042


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