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February 11, 2016    Headlines

Sport Crabbing Opens!

Recreational Dungeness Crab Season Opens South of Point Reyes
The Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Thursday 2-11 that the recreational season for dungeness crabs has opened for all waters south of Point Reyes. The CDPH has found safe levels of domoic adic in all tests conducted for the past several weeks of crabs south of Point Reyes including Half Moon Bay and Monterey bay.
Other tests over the past two weeks show that levels out of most northern ports are also safe but there are still a few areas including Salt Point and Ft Bragg where some crabs are testing above federal action limits of 30ppm.
The commercial dungeness crab season remains closed state wide but should reopen once all northern ports test "clean" over the next two weeks.
Party boats out of Half Moon Bay, Emeryville and Monterey are currently scheduling crab trips. 

Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported Thursday 1-29 that they have not had any trips for sand dabs and mackerel over the past several days. They will be running the sand dab trips on an intermittent basis depending upon weather and interest.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
A break in the weather and smaller swells provided Monterey Bay anglers with much-needed opportunities to hit the beach this week. Surfcasting for perch is getting better with more, and bigger fish being reported caught.
One of the best aspects of surf perching on Monterey Bay is the amount of sandy space we anglers have to enjoy. Exploring new spots or hiking a mile or two down the beach away from the parking lot guarantees not only solitude but the opportunity to find the perfect beach structure that holds feeding perch.
Marina fisherman Robert Lonsinger usually fishes towards the Monterey side of the bay, and has reaped rewards lately with a strategy of extended hikes and starting early. Lonsinger targets the bigger holes and inside troughs on beaches towards the middle of the bay. Even when the waves are big, these spots can produce well. Of course, we all shoot for the largest fish possible, and Lonsinger is no exception saying, “
I think perching has been good everywhere. (I look for) Lots of big holes and rougher water. I think only the big fish can deal with it.” On Wednesday he retained a near-limit of big barred surfperch, with the largest measuring 15 inches, pretty much the upper end of BSP size.
A new swell is forecast to move in this weekend, with waves forecast in the eight-10 foot region. Don’t let the high surf keep you from surfcasting. Take an opportunity to walk the long beaches and find some fantastic structure with big, feisty perch just waiting for you to cast. And, be extra careful of sneaker sets that can knock you off your feet.
The big swell this weekend is likely to deposit more sand in the Santa Cruz Harbor entrance. This week, the Harbor dredge operations were able to clear enough of a channel that a few boats transited the Harbor entrance. According to Port Director Lisa Ekers, the transits were not without worry.
Ekers reported “The Shana Rae and the Misty Dawn, both fairly deep-draft vessels, successfully exited the harbor this week, but watching them do it was both a nail-biter even for the most experienced boaters. These professional skippers know their vessels' capabilities and the fickleness of the ocean extremely well - even so, they only risked it at a +5 foot tide with the Harbor Patrol and Dauntless there to guide and assist if needed. Both vessels were perilously close to the east jetty and timed their escapes perfectly with the swell. The Port District is still not recommending transiting the entrance until the federal channel is restored back to safe depths, and can't guarantee that the Harbor Patrol will be available for assistance, so please - 
don't put your vessel, yourself or others at risk.”

Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Crab Update: November 21st
There is some good news on the Dungeness crab domoic acid (DA) levels results posted by the CDPH. Tests this past week show dropping DA levels out of all ports south of Ft Bragg with some ports testing "clean".
 In a nutshell federal guide lines call for a DA level of 30ppm or lower to be considered safe. They take 6 to 12 sample crabs and use both an average of all samples and the percentage of the combined tests for their final results.
The most recent tests were conducted off Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Crescent City.
Off Monterey bay tests conducted on November-12 showed an average DA level of 21ppm but 14% of the crabs still tested above the action level of 30 ppm. In comparison test in Monterey on October-31 showed an average of just 17ppm with 9% being over the action level. A slight increase with most crabs testing safe.
Half Moon Bay saw great results on the November 16th test with an average DA of just 11ppm and 0% above action level.
San Francisco also saw safe results with an average of 10.7ppm and 0% above the action level.
Off Bodega Bay they took samples in two locations on November 16th, Point Reyes and the Russian river. The six samples taken off the Russian river showed an average DA of 25.8 with 50% testing above the action limit. In comparison tests on October 31st showed an average DA of 45ppm with 83% of the crabs tests above action levels.
They also tested off Point Reyes (I believe this was a new tests site and we don't have any earlier results) and here they found an average DA out of six samples of 51pp or 66% of the crabs testing above the action level.
Fort Bragg was last tested on October 30th and showed safe levels with an average of just 6.5ppm and no crabs testing above 15ppm.
Test results from this past week off Crescent City have not been released likely due to bad weather keeping the test boat in port. The most recent tests off Crescent City, Trinidad and Eureka in late October showed DA levels averaging 66ppm with nearly 100% of the crabs testing above the action level. We expect that tests will be conducted off the North Coast ports this coming week. We will post results as soon as they are available.
With the exception of Brookings all Oregon crabs have tested well below action levels for tests conducted in October but apparently they have closed their season until further testing is done.
Shellfish warnings have been lifted off the Central coast so it looks like the toxic algae blooms that caused this have died off.  This algae sinks to the bottom and becomes mixed with the sediment. In turn it is consumed by clams and worms and other things that crabs eat and the reason it takes longer to flush out of the crabs.
The current plan (I believe under the guidelines of the CDPH) calls for testing to be conducted every two weeks until all ports test below 60ppm. Once that happens there will be weekly tests until all ports see a DA level of 30ppm or below (federal safe standard for the viscera 20ppm for the meat). Once the CDPH declares the crabs safe to eat then it will be up to the Director of Fish and Wildlife to open the season. It's a big ocean and with just limited testing being done I'm sure that the CDPH will be conservative before they declare "safe crabs".
The commercial fleet has asked for a state wide opener with a 7 seven day recreational season followed by a full opener for the commercial fleet. There will be some politics in the decision making process especially if crabs off the Central coast show safe DA levels and levels remain high on the North Coast.
All in all good news as DA levels are dropping out of most ports. If tests this coming week off the North Coast show improving DA levels we could all be dumping gear by mid December. We are doing our best to understand and report on this very important issue but are too learning about something that we (and many biologists) don't fully understand how and why this algae puts off DA.
Until the crab season reopens party and private boats are reporting great rockfish and ling action with sponsors like Rick Powers in Bodega and the Smith family in Berkeley and the Emeryville Sporting seeing big sacks and in many cases LIMITS of lings. Come out and enjoy a day on the water and support those who make this site possible. This site would not be possible without their and many other's support.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing was aware of the recent crab testing with only one of 11 traps out of Monterey Bay being high in domoic acid. He is optimistic that the season may start sometime between December 1st to Christmas Day. Ling cod action remains outstanding with 25 ling cod and 3/4th limits of rockfish on the Check Mate on Tuesday 11-10. He said, “We are filled Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but we have had around 60% cancellation rate since the crab closure. The cancellations have been filled since the excellent ling cod action continues. They have been catching live sand dabs and mackerel for the lings, and there were 10 ling cod over 20 pounds up to 27 pounds on a recent trip with the fish coming into the coast to spawn.

Now that everyone knows of the crab closure it's time to get back to basics while we await clean crab tests. The rockfish and long cod action has been solid out of all ports. We at least have fish and chips on the menu and I'm betting that crab reopens in time for Christmas Cioppino. 
Washington state reopened most but not all of their ports (after a four month closure) to crabbing about two weeks ago and hopefully we reopen here soon as well. They (Washington state) have a very transparent system where they were posting lab results of their tested crabs on a port by port basis. I will be sending a letter in asking the Department of Fish and Wildlife that we do the same here in California.
I have spoken to several party boat captains today and all are saying their customers are being very supportive. Their regular clients are all on board to chase rockfish and lings and telling them " we will be back again when the crab season reopens".
We here at USAFishing will be staying on top of the crab test results and will let readers know as soon as the crabs are safe and the season reopens.
There are some bogus rumors out there that crabs currently in the market are unsafe to eat. NOT TRUE. A few local markets and restaurants have crabs available that are coming in from out of state. These crabs have been tested and are safe. If you pick a couple of at your local market (my go to market GG in Petaluma had live and cooked crabs for 7.99 a pound last weekend) they are safe.
We will be concentrating on rockfish and ling reports in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and be ready to get out after Dungeness crabs soon!

Crab Season Delayed Due to Toxic algae bloom

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife posted the following email / news release late Tuesday 11-3 warning the public that tests this past week have confirmed that Dungeness and rock crabs are testing above action levels for domoic acid levels in both the meat and the viscera from the Oregon border to Santa Barbara.. While this is a warning from the CDPH, we expect that on Thursday  Fish and Wildlife will officially announce a closure to the sport Dungeness crab season for this coming Saturday November 7th to protect the public's health.
Tests are being preformed weekly and we could see the season reopen in a few weeks or a month or more. Most waters off the Washington coast were shut down for the past four months but most have now reopened as tests show there that the crabs there are safe to consume. As our coastal water cool and the associated algae blooms die off we too will see our local crab stocks become safe to eat.

We want to remind readers that the rockfish and ling action has been excellent out of all ports and the season is open on the central coast through December. All of our sponsors will be running rockfish / ling cod combos though the end of the year and they can all use your support until the crab season reopens.
Hopefully the crabs clean up soon and we all get to enjoy some on the table come Thanksgiving or Christmas. This writer is a huge crab fan and while I am disappointed this is the right thing for both CDPH and DF&W to do.
If anyone was to become sick from consuming unsafe crabs the resulting PR would be devastating to the commercial fishery. Be sure to support your local favorite party boat operator during this time and stay tuned for an announcement that the crab season has reopened.

Related stories

Anglers can also get updates on the California Department of Public Health shellfish Hotline at 800 553-4133

CDPH Issues Warning About Dungeness and Rock Crab Caught in Waters Along the Central and Northern California Coast

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today advised consumers not to eat Dungeness and Rock crabs caught in waters between the Oregon border and the southern Santa Barbara County line, due to the detection of dangerous levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin.
Recent test results have shown persistently high levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab and rock crab, which have been caught along the California coastline. The levels have exceeded the State's action level for the crabs' body meat as well as the viscera, commonly referred to as crab butter, and therefore pose a significant risk to the public if they are consumed.
CDPH in conjunction with other state agencies will continue its sampling efforts to monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs until the levels subside and no longer exceed the State's action level of 30 ppm in the viscera and 20 ppm in the meat. Domoic acid accumulation in seafood is a natural occurrence that is related to a "bloom" of a particular single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia. The conditions that support the growth of this plant are impossible to predict, and it is unknown when the levels found in crab will subside. The health advisory will be lifted once the levels are no longer above acceptable levels.

Keith Stemler of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported limits of ling cod amd 15 ling cod for 7 anglers on the Caroline on Thursday 10-29 in very windy conditions. The combination of the big swell and the wind made for less than ideal fishing conditions. The Star of Monterey returned with 33 limits of rockfish and 10 lings on Thursday.  Their first weekend availability for crab combination trips is December 5/6th with November 17th the first weekday.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Offshore tuna anglers are keeping a close eye on weather reports for the coming week. The weekend reports indicate winds will be building on the bluefin ground ten miles offshore, with a forecast of 15 knots and a building swell to six or seven feet. Monday’s forecast is worse, predicting winds to 25 knots. Early mornings may be fishable, but caution is advised.
The run of Bluefin tuna continued this week much as it has for the previous three. Anglers have reported zero to six tuna boated, with many more “zeros” than catches. Skipper Tom Joseph has fished nearly every day on his four-pack charter boat Sara Bella. Joseph is slow- trolling live mackerel on the surface, and using his downriggers to bracket the water column from 50 to 150 feet down.
On Tuesday, Joseph reported,
 “Friday the 23rd our party boated three blue fin from 44-53 pounds. Today’s fish came deep. It’s hit or miss, no bluefin at all on Wednesday.  Just seven sharks that cut our lines. I’ve been fishing every day almost, and we’ve got 18 bluefin tuna on the Sara Bella this month, ranging from 35-65 pounds.”
Most private boaters are taking multiple trips to the canyon areas about 10 miles offshore from Davenport before hooking up with one or two of the big powerful tuna. Captain Jack Teresi on the Nancy Leigh had three hookups Wednesday, and managed to bring one fish over the rail.  Persistence is a key in taking advantage of this unusual opportunity of big tuna relatively close to port. Old salts consider a Monterey Bay bluefin bite like this to be a “once in 25-year” event.
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine keeps track of the bluefin bite, and adds a number of tuna were caught this week off Point Pinos in Monterey.  Schools of bonito are also swinging through the Monterey Harbor area, as well as near Pajaro Beach and Natural Bridges. As with bluefin hunting, bonito anglers look for surface activity and birds or dolphins feeding that might indicate a bonito school.
A few commercial squid boats have been netting squid from Five-Mile Beach up towards Davenport. Some lucky anglers have worked this area for an occasional white sea bass, using squid or live mackerel as bait.
And, the rockcod bite remains consistently good all around the Bay.  Todd Arcaleo at Chris’ Fishing Trips reported rockcod limits for nearly every trip last week, and averaged 20 lings on each trip as well. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing in Santa Cruz reports similar results. “
Our last all-day cod trip went north. We caught limits of great quality blues and blacks, six lings up to 28 pounds and quite a few big reds and a nice cabezone.” Stagnaro’s six pack boat Sea Stag VI is available for bonito trips, and will start rockfish/Dungeness crab combo trips on opening weekend, November 7th.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Santa Cruz:
Tom Joseph on the four pack Fish On continues to post the top scores for all boats chasing bluefin inside Monterey bay. On Friday 10-23  Tom put his clients into three landed all in the 45 to 50 pound class with a couple of other missed fish. He was again working 10 to 12 miles outside of Davenport along the Monterey canyon wall and said he saw great sign and tuna marks on his meter throughout the morning. He is slowly figuring out this once in a life time fishery and today said he changed up his whole setup. We promised we would not give up any vital secrets but what he did do differently today was stack his troll jigs for the first time and he hooked fish far deeper than he has in the past. In a nutshell Tom said he saw solid fish marks at 50 feet and deeper and approached them like he was salmon trolling not tuna fishing. It paid off with three exotics in the box. Tom has room a few days this coming week but the word is out he is the hot skipper and the one with consistent BFT scores.

Santa Cruz:
Tom Joseph with Fish On Sportfishing was back out after bluefin on Wednesday 10-21. Trolling along the Canyon wall off Davenport in 900 to 1000 feet of water Tom was working over good meter marks in sloppy conditions. They hooked and landed one bluefin that dressed out at 48 pounds and missed one other good take down that was either a shark or a BF and released one blue shark. Tom said he was seeing consistent tuna marks under the boat but they just didn't seem to want to come up and play in the chop and slop. He will be back out tomorrow and has room later in the week.  

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported Sunday 10-18 little change on the rockfish front with  33 limits of rockfish and 35 ling cod on the Star of Monterey on Sunday with the Caroline returning with 21 limits and 25 lings. He said, “Live mackerel are still plentiful, and there are bonito everywhere with Captain Tinker Neece on the Check Mate putting out a troll rod on a whale watching trip, and they hooked a 15-pound bonito within minutes.” They have room on rockfish trips throughout the week. He added, “There are yellowfin tuna off of the coast here, and the skiffs are starting to find them amongst the schools of dolphins. Experienced fishermen are also posting some great scores on bluefin tuna by dropping down a live mackerel on a heavy weight to 200 feet in depth and trolling at a fast salmon troll. They have been going to school on episodes of ‘Wicked Tuna’ in order to modify their techniques.”
Those unable to hook tuna are finding solid action for bonito with up to 20 fish within an hour with quads and triples. Commercial fishermen are also cashing in on the bonito inside of the bay. By the way bonito are a top bait for dungeness crabs.

Santa Cruz

Tom Joseph had another great bluefin score on Sunday 10-10 despite the crappy weather conditions. Tom jigged but live mackrel and got the downriggers in the water by 8:AM. With the sloppy conditions there were no jumpers to help get him dialed in but he did find an area with lots of meter marks. He dropped the downriggers much deeper than he normally does and it paid off. Despite the slop and chop they hooked five and landed three going 38, 44 and 48 pounds gutted and gilled.  Tom said they had to fight a big swell and 10 to 12 knots of wind but they got the job done. Tom has room daily this week.

Tom Joseph on the Fish On has been refining his bluefin tuna skills the past few days. From the looks of things he is starting to get dialed in and employing some southern Cal tactics to put some quality bluefin in the slush. On Tuesday 10-6 Tom reported they hooked and landed one 65 pounder.
On Monday 10-5 they hooked three and landed two going 35 and 49 pounds. Tom spent the weekend trolling fresh caught live mackerel on the surface. What he found was fish coming up on the troll rigs but they were so boat shy they would not get bit. Being a salmon captain he broke out the downriggers and some very light gear on Monday and that is when he started to find some success. Trolling closer to salmon speed (compared to jig speed) at two to three knots with his live mackerel under the surface they hooked three fish on Monday. Today Tom was again jigging up live mackerel off Soquel Hole at first light and had they salmon downrigger/ bluefin gear on a spread just 12 miles from Santa Cruz and 8 miles off the beach at the Fingers by 7AM. Tom wants to say to all readers these are tuna but the ARE NOT albacore. Albacore tactics of jigs trolled on the surface will not bring biting bluefin. While a few private boaters have hooked up using live mackerel on the drift Tom feels the key is to get in front of the jumpers and offer them a live bait under the surface. Tom is a quick study and looks continue to refine his bluefin play book in the coming days. He has lots of room and will be targeting bluefin tuna in the coming days out of Santa Cruz.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported beautiful weather and excellent rockfishing on Thursday 10-1 with the Check Mate scoring 40 ling cod and 14 limits of rockfish at the local reefs. They are jigging up live mackerel and loading up on the lings. The whales are ‘unbelievable’ and videos of the whales can be seen at Chris’s Fishing Trips You Tube sight. They also observed a sea turtle on Thursday, and this occurs around once per month. The turtle was feeding on jellyfish. He added, “The water is so clear that it is unreal.”

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
|Time flies when you’re having fun.  It is now October, usually the period when our fishing season begins to wane. Instead we’re happy to report some big news.  As in big halibut, big lingcod, big ocean salmon just up the coast and most incredibly- bluefin tuna not far offshore.
Anglers from Santa Cruz, Moss Landing and Half Moon Bay are chasing Bluefin schools about ten or twelve miles offshore from the Pigeon Point area down to mid-Monterey Bay. While the schools are big, the fish are “small,” in the 30-50-pound range.  Pacific bluefin tuna can weigh over 900 pounds when fully matured. Many of those who ventured out to the tuna waters report seeing dozens of jumpers and even some surface feeding schools. However, getting these fish to bite is not easy.
Todd Fraser from Bayside marine has been following the tuna bite closely and says “There were a few 35-50 pound bluefin caught in the same area near Davenport in 300-600 feet of water. The bluefin have been finicky possibly due to the moon or the red crabs they are eating.” Fraser reports at least one angler found success, catching a 50-pound Bluefin while flylining a live mackerel into a feeding school.  Others are trolling plugs, lures or baitfish.
A long with this amazing influx of tuna we are also seeing big schools of bonita, a close tuna relative, in the shallows.  According to Fraser, the bonita have been caught near the Soquel Hole, as well as in 90-140 feet of water off Natural Bridges. Kahuna Sportfishing in Moss Landing is waiting and hoping the tuna bite will develop over the next week or two.  Owner Carol Jones is eager to chase some tuna, but the weather and tuna feeding patterns have to cooperate.
Lingcod are still on the munch on most of the Monterey Bay reefs. As is usual for fall, the bite is deeper than summertime, from 60-120 feet of water. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish remains very productive for all Monterey Bay charter operations, with Chris’ Fishing Trips, Stagnaro’s and Randy’s Sportfishing all reporting limits or near-limits of rockfish and lingcod this week.
Halibut are becoming more scattered in the deeper waters between the reefs, along the flat sandy areas. But they are worth the search.  This week saw the “Halibut of the Year,” caught by Jim Biakanja near Four-Mile Beach. Using fresh-dead squid as bait, Biakanja pulled in a monstrous 45-pound flatty. “Forty-five pounds and six ounces, to be exact,” Biakanja quipped.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions

It’s all about rockfish and lings out of Monterey with the Check Mate out Chris’s Landing in Monterey returning with 45 ling cod for limits along with limits of rockfish on Tuesday 9-15. On Monday, the Caroline put in near limits of lings at 30 for 18 anglers along with rockfish limits.

Keith at Chris’s Landing reported limits of rockfish and 8 lings for the Caroline on Thursday 9-10 for 15 anglers to go with 23 limits of rockfish and 8 lings on the Star of Monterey. The water temperature in Carmel Bay has dropped to 57 degrees, but it is still warm at 63.1 degrees near Moss Landing.  Whale watching continues to be incredible, and Keith is posting new videos to their youtube station on a daily basis.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
A persistent mixed swell continues to affect Monterey Bay fishing, especially in the inshore areas.
Despite less than ideal conditions, a number of good catches were reported this week, and the weekend weather looks to be more benign.
Topping the list was a nice white sea bass caught by Tony Fischer that weighed in on the Bayside Marine scale at nearly 20 pounds. Fischer also caught a barracuda on his outing, making his local trip rather exotic.
Bayside owner Todd Fraser reported on general fishing conditions for Santa Cruz saying “The rock fishing started to get better now that the swell has dropped. The anglers found some nice rockfish and lingcod near Four-Mile and Natural Bridges. Halibut fishing should start to get better this week. Sea bass are still being caught near the Mile Buoy and Capitola in 60-90 feet of water. The sea bass are feeding on mackerel and there are some barracuda in the mix.
Monterey has been affected less by the two-weeks of long-period swells. Kayak angler Ken Chitwood was fishing 60 feet of water off Del Monte Beach Sunday when he hooked up with a monster halibut that taped out over 40 inches and weighed 34 pounds and some change. Quite a feat from a 15-foot plastic boat! Other anglers have reported a sporadic halibut bite in that area, using live bait, frozen anchovies or trolling hoochies behind a dodger.
Big Ken Chitwood with a big 34-pound California halibut.
Surfcasters who put in their time are finding barred surfperch up to 14 inches, and striped bass up to 20 pounds. The perch are hitting on GULP sandworms as well as the classic motor oil red flake grubs. Stripers seem to prefer the Daiwa SP Minnow lately, though the usual pencil poppers especially in red and white are always a good bet for surfline stripers. These striper schools move quickly, following bait balls. The best beaches seem to be those on either side of Moss landing, up to Manresa, and down to Sand City. Best time for fishing them is dawn or dusk, or even nighttime fishing when the moon is out.
Tropical conditions in Santa Cruz provided great results for Tony Fischer, with his white sea bass and a barracuda Sunday.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to<

Same situation out of Monterey – The Caroline stayed local for 17 limits of rockfish and 28 ling cod although the wind has been blowing hard. Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing said, “There are tons of anchovies here, and there are so many whales and anchovies in the bay. “ They posted a short video of the incredible whale watching at their Youtube Channel at It’s really impressive. They are filled through the weekend for rockfishing trips.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
A combination of long-period northwest and south swells has persisted all week, and slowed Monterey bay fishing to some extent.  Deeper waters are still producing well, and we are seeing an increasing number of ‘exotics” in our local waters.
Local Angler Travis Blymer reported a 36-inch barracuda washed up on the beach near Pleasure Point mid-week.  While not unknown for Santa Cruz or Monterey, these fish cruise through only occasionally in warm water years such as we are experiencing currently. A surfcaster working the beach near Franklin Point also reported catching a small yellowtail jack pulled in from the surfline. Not knowing what it was, he released the fish successfully.
“Cod fishing remains excellent,” says Ken Stagnaro from Stagnaro’s Sportfishing in Santa Cruz. From the charter boat Velocity, Stagnaro reports “limits of nice blues and yellows with a few big reds and lings coming in daily.” Despite the mixed swells this week Stagnaro has found decent fishing near south rock and the deeper reefs (80-120 feet of water) along West Cliff and outside of Wilder Ranch. This is a typical fall pattern with more fish on the deeper reefs, more “schoolie” type fish and occasional “big boy.” 
Swimbaits and jigs such as MegaBait diamond jigs can be very effective for the big reds and lingcod on these deeper reefs this time of year. The Monterey and Moss Landing boats from Chris’ Fishing Trips, Randy’s and Kahuna Sportfishing are also finding limit-style fishing for rock code south of Point Pinos, with a similar mix of schoolie rockfish, larger bottom fish, and the occasional lingcod. No halibut were reported caught since the swell started this week, but a few white seabass up to 60 pounds were caught near Capitola during the days of the full moon last week.
It’s getting late in the season for salmon fishing, but the diligent angler still has a chance. At Santa Cruz Harbor, the jetty anglers have been picking up a few fish every day, using Mad River pink worms.  Half Moon Bay reports indicate schools of salmon are still moving through that area with catches occurring just outside the harbor, and up to Pacifica, near Linda Mar Beach and off the Devil’s slide area.
Salmon fishing was best this week off the Marin Coast, where anglers cashed in on mild sea conditions, massive amounts of bait and schools of salmon fattening up before making their run into the San Francisco Bay and on up to their river spawning grounds. Captain Jay Yokomizo took a select group out on The New Huck Finn Tuesday to the Duxbury Reef area. Six fishermen aboard put their limits in the boat by 11 am.  The fish hot, and an equal number came off the hook before netting. Yokomizo was trolling with two-pound balls, and cable-baited anchovies for the steady bite.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to


The wind kept the party boats close to the harbor as Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “We stayed down at Carmel Bay on Sunday 8-30 as the wind came up in the afternoon blowing up 30 knots by the time the boats were back in the harbor. The Check Mate returned with 26 limits and 20 ling cod while the Caroline had 22 limits of rockfish and 20 lings.” On Saturday, the ling counts dropped off to an average around a dozen per trip, but rockfish limits were the rule for all three boats.

Arcoleo added, “There are so many whales in the bay that two whales have even come into the harbor where the boats are and feeding on the inside of the rockwall. The anchovies are en masse in the marina, and I just spent the last hour watching the anchovies and blue mackerel swim around the dock with the whales in the harbor.” The BBC has been filming  a feature the past three weeks, and Arcoleo gave them footage of a pod of orcas catching a harbor seal and feeding it to a baby orca. The feature is called “Big Blue Live ,” and Big Blue Live will air live on PBS 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 with another live feed to the West Coast from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. A week before the PBS broadcast, the BBC will air its live broadcast and be streaming online. the epicenter for north coast anglers. In an emphatic confirmation of our weird warm water year one lucky fisherman pulled in a yellowtail jack this week, a fish that is semi-tropical and typically does not travel much further north than the Channel Islands near Santa Barbara.
Rockfishing trips off the wild coasts of Big Sur and North Santa Cruz are of the guaranteed limit variety. We are seeing more of the schooling type of rockfish such as blues and yellows as fall approaches, though the bigger hardhead bottom fish are willingly taking bait and swimbait or iron lures as well. Big vermilion are not unusual, but be careful in your fish I.D., as the canary rockfish get big as well, and it’s easy to confuse the two. Canaries are illegal to keep.
The charter boats are all reporting limits, as they have all summer. Chris’ Fishing Trips and Randy’s Sportfishing from Monterey continue to work the reefs off Point Pinos and Point Joe. Chris’ reported full bags of rockcod and averaged two lings per rod on all their trips last week. Randy’s presented similar reports with full rockfish limits of blues, blacks and reds, “a few lingcod” and a bonus blue whale sighting on their Sunday trip.
We have been waiting all summer for the halibut to come into shallow water. Looks like they ain’t gonna do that this year. Weird. Halibut counts are up this week, and most if not all were found in 50-70 feet of water. From Manresa to Capitola, to Lighthouse Point and the sandy areas off the north coast, anglers are hooking and catching nice halibut in the 15-30-pound class. Live bait still works best, but swimbaits will do the trick and frozen squid always is a good bet for the big flatfish.
Salmon fishing was pretty much nil for Monterey Bay this week. A few kings are still being caught by diligent anglers on the Santa Cruz Harbor west jetty who are using Mad River pink worms on the incoming or high tides. Half Moon Bay is still hosting a decent salmon bite. Our man on the spot, Captain Tom Joseph from Fish On Sportfishing had three salmon trips last week. Friday they got a double hookup on their first drop, and ended with a fish per rod for the day. Sunday was slow with only one fish for the boat. On Tuesday, things picked up again for Joseph as he relates “
Today our charter boated four salmon and a couple came off.”
The coming weekend could go either way. Weather reports indicate a northwest swell of two to four feet and wind waves outside of the bay up to two feet, with wind forecast from five to 15 knots. The mornings should be very fishable, but keep an eye on the horizon and be ready to run for cover when the wind starts to pick up. As always, have safe and be fun.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to


5-day plot - Wind Speed at 46042



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