Chris' Fishing Trips
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Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866


March 30, 2015    Headlines

Winter Perch and Crabs


Ocean salmon season opens this coming Saturday, and the three boats out of Chris’s Landing in Monterey are already booked for opening day. The water temperature is turning cooler, but it is still 5 degrees higher than normal in the mid-50 degree range.
Sunday 3-29 Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “I wasn’t optimistic for last year’s opener of salmon season, but we found spectacular action with early limits of big fish on opening day and at the first of the season. I feel similar to last year as I just don’t know what to expect, but there has been some krill showing up for the first time this year and along with the recently-arriving squid, things are looking up a bit.” The Risso dolphin schools have been chasing the squid up into the beaches in Monterey Bay, and there have been humpbacked whales feeding on anchovies near Mulligan Hill.

The Check Mate, the Star of Monterey, and the Caroline will start somewhere off of the edge of the Monterey Canyon searching for anchovies and bait before dropping down their lines. All of the large party boats out of Monterey mooch for salmon throughout the season, and mooching allows the boats to target deep water where the fish have been hanging in the past few years due to the increase in ocean temperatures. However, Arcoleo said, “The water has turned cooler and it is a green color, changing from the blue water than existed for most of the winter months.” Rockfish season starts during the week on Wednesday, but high winds predicted to 30 to 40 mph will either keep the boats tied up or close to the harbor. The addition of live squid may allow for jigging up live bait in order to attract ling cod and the larger species of bottomfish from the local reefs that haven’t seen gear for the past 90 days.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported Friday 3-20, “We are getting ready for rockfish season on April 1st, and we haven’t been out for sand dabs and crab in the past few days. We have some room on the rockfish opener, and there is some room on April 6th for salmon, but the first two days of ocean salmon season are totally booked.” The northwest wind has been blowing every day, and the water has cooled to 55 degree with a nice green color. He said, “It isn’t the brown color that we like, but it has turned from blue to green. The bait has moved in with the wind to the area around Mulligan Hill, and the humpback whales are thick in the area, loading up on the small anchovies.”

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
A sellout crowd of 300 anglers participated in the 2015 Sand Crab Classic Perch Tournament, the biggest turnout in 11 years. This derby is getting bigger and better every year, and qualifies as the largest surfcasting tournament on the west coast. As usual, all proceeds beyond derby costs go to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project to support MBSTP education, hatchery and habitat restoration efforts. 
Anglers fished from Pacifica down to Carmel. Despite a recent slowdown for surfcasting perch, a number of impressive fish were weighed in. Top honors this year went to Grand Master Joe Voss. Voss came all the way from Ventura in his first try at the Derby. He arrived Friday and scouted locations Friday night. Voss found a couple good holes at Salinas River State Beach to which he returned before sunrise Saturday. Using bloodworms, he nailed a 15 1/2" Barred Surf Perch which proved to be the biggest fish for this year's Derby. He left Saturday night for his home down south. He'll be back.
Other winners included Grace Volz, who captured the Grand Master Trophy last year, coming in #1 for Women's Barred Surf Perch with a fat 10 1/2-inch BSP. AJ Foster won first place in the Seaperch Division with a 15-inch striped perch. Michael Calura took the Men’s Barred Perch category with a fish measuring 15 inches. The Women’s Seaperch trophy was captured by Judy Foster with a striped perch nearly 14 inches long. In the Junior Divisions, Caleb Arroyo won the sea perch trophy with a 13-5/8 inch striped perch and Madison Jauregi captured the Junior Barred Perch trophy with her 12 -inch fish.
Second and third-place trophies and prizes were awarded in all categories. Full results and photos of all trophy winners can be viewed at
Now it’s time to tune up our tackle and spruce up the boats, as the beginning of April this year features twin openings of both salmon and rockfish seasons. Next week’s report will discuss details and strategies for pursuing both these popular species in the Monterey Bay.


Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported the sand dabs are holding up their end of the bargain, but the crab counts have fallen off since consistent limits of a few weeks back. The Check Mate went out on Friday 3-13, Saturday 3-14, and Sunday 3-15 with a total of 107 crab for 43 anglers over the three days along with bucketloads of sand dabs. With the rockfish season opening on April 1st, Chris’s is fielding heavy interest for the start of the season.

The 11th Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Tournament:
Allen Bushnell, co-director of the event with Captain Mike Baxter, reported the largest turnout in 11 years with over 300 participants fishing from Pacifica south to Carmel. He said, “Despite a recent slowdown for surfcasting perch, a number of impressive fish were weighed with top honors going to Joe Voss who came all the way from Ventura for his first try at the Derby.  Joe arrived Friday and scouted locations Friday night.  He found a couple good holes at Salinas River State Beach to which he returned before sunrise Saturday.  Using bloodworms, Voss nailed a 15 1/2" Barred Surf Perch which proved to be the biggest for this year's Derby. Voss left Saturday night for his home down south.  He'll be back next year.”
A repeat winner was Grace Volz who captured the Grand Master Trophy in 2014 with the number one fish in the Women’s Barred Surf Perch category at 10.5 inches while Caleb Arroy won the Junior Sea Perch Division with a 13.625-inch striped perch and Madison Jauregi capturing the Junior Barred Surf Perch trophy at 12.25-inches.
All proceeds from the event are donated to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Steelhead Project.

Monterey/Santa Cruz

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported the Dungeness crab action has slowed down in the past week, and the Check Mate returned with 3 crab apiece for 11 anglers on Sunday 3-8 along with plenty of sand dabs and around 100 mackerel. The mackerel bite has slowed down since the start of the week when there were anglers lining up along the public wharf for bucketloads of the fish. Chris’s will be running the combination trips throughout the week. With the strong possibility of rockfish season opening below Pigeon Point on April 1st, Arcoleo is booking rockfish/ling cod trip during April, contingent upon the decision of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.  Out of Santa Cruz, the 11th Annual Sand Crab Perch Derby, a fundraiser for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Steelhead Project, will take place this coming Saturday March 14th. Information available at  


Todd Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported continued fantastic sand dab, mackerel, and Dungeness crab action with 12 anglers on the Check Mate returning with heavy buckets of fish and 5 crab/apiece on Thursday 2-27. They have openings on Sunday, but Saturday’s trips are sold out.


Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel”

Fishing in the greater Monterey Bay remained steady this week.  If not necessarily the most exciting, we at least are enjoying consistency.
Tops on the list are surfperch. Any of the beaches stretching from Santa Cruz down to Monterey can produce limits of barred surfperch on any given day. Fish move, and conditions such as tide, swell and water clarity can all affect the bite so the hot spot yesterday could be slow today.  Be prepared to move to a diffent location if your first number of casts are not productive. If you are dedicated, you can find the surfperch almost every day. Target the deeper pockets of water just behind the surfline, and especially any visible rips or side-shore currents for best results.
For boaters, sand dabs are most prolific this time of year.  Sure, they are small, rarely exceeding 16 inches but if you bring home 20 or 30 of the diminutive sole, it’s gourmet dinner time for the neighborhood. Sanddabs are famous as a high-priced delicacy being light, mild and scrumptious when prepared correctly. Dungeness crab are still on the crawl as well.  While fewer crab are caught this time of year, and they trend a bit smaller, they are firmly on most diners’ favorites list.  Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey are concentrating on their hugely succesful Crab ‘n Dab combo trips for the time being, and posting big numbers weekly.  Last week saw the Check Mate bring home near-limits of Dungeness along with “buckets” of sanddab and mackerel for their weekend trips, and full limits (60) of crab on Wednesday’s go-out.
Great news from the Pacific Fsheries Management Council was released this week regarding 2014 salmon escapement numbers in the Sacramento and Klamath River systems.  The PFMC reported “
about 212,000 adult salmon returned to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries in 2014. About 10,000 adults returned to the San Joaquin, Mokelumne, Consumnes and other Central Valley rivers.” This exceeds the fishery management goal of 122,000 fish and all but guarantees another April salmon opener this year. The “jack count” of 2-year old fish was promising as well, more than 24% higher than last year’s numbers. PFMC projections estimate over 800,000 adult salmon are  in the ocean now prior to the 2015 season.
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reminds us that salmon season’s opening day will not be finalized until fisheries meetings in March are concluded. “
We hope to see Salmon open on April 4 and possibly a April Rock fish opener,”  Fraser said this week.
Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby entries can be obtained at Fraser’s Bayside Marine tackle shop at the Santa Cruz Harbor, and will remain available online for one more week at The annual tourney benefits the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout project and is the largest surfcasting contest on the West Coast.
Send your photos, comments or questions to

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported 11 limits of Dungeness crab, plenty of sand dabs, and loads of mackerel on Wednesday’s 2-18 trip on the Check Mate. They are heading back out again on the combination trips on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  


Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Mild weather and king tides this week have made for superior perch fishing along the beaches of Monterey Bay. This winter’s west and northwest swells have created well-defined structure on the sandy beaches, especially those below Rio Del Mar.
It has been an exceptional year for barred surfperch along the beaches, and the good fishing should last for the next couple months at least. While most anglers agree the hours just prior to and just after high tide is the best time for perching, some anglers have reported good catches of barred perch in the 14-15-inch range even at low tide. Plenty of surfcasters are out practicing for the Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby, which is scheduled for March 14th.  Entries are still available for the annual perch derby, which benefits the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. For more information and online derby entries, go to  Entry forms are also available at Bayside Marine in the Santa Cruz Harbor.
Fly fishing enthusiasts can check out the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show this weekend at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.  The show runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday and features tackle, gear and accessories as well as casting and fly-tying demonstrations by such notables as Hal Janssen, Wendy Gunn, Dan Blanton, Jay Murakashi Nick Curcione and Gary Borger.
Meanwhile, we still have plenty going on right here on Monterey Bay.  Dungeness crab is slowing down a bit, but crabbers who work for it are still getting limits or near limits from their pots in 220-300 feet of water.  The sand dab and mackerel bite remains hot and heavy from the port of Monterey, with Chris’ Fishing Trips reporting  “Lots of sanddab, lots of mackerel,” and about limits of Dungeness for their weekend party boat trips aboard the Check Mate.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Though rainfall totals were not as heavy as predicted last week, the weekend’s precipitation was a very welco

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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