Chris' Fishing Trips
& Whale Watching

(831) 375-5951

Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866


December 15, 2014    Headlines

Crab & Rockfish LIMITS

Rockfish and Dungeness crab action remained solid with the Check Mate posting 17 limits of both rockfish and crab on Sunday 12-14 along with 19 ling cod while the Caroline put in 20 limits of rockfish, 20 limits of ling cod, and 4.5 crab/angler.  Saturday’s crab counts were limited by the big swell that had dissipated to some degree by Sunday. Rockfish limits remained the rule, but the crabs were more elusive. They have cancelled Monday’s trip due to the incoming weather front, but there is plenty of room for the remainder of the week. Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing said, “Bonita have shown up in Monterey Bay, and the Caroline is watching the fish jump everywhere around the surface near the Bell Buoy.”

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
The weekly fish report is prepared a couple days before publication. By Friday morning, we will know how much an impact the season’s first major storm will have on the Monterey Bay area. Satellite images and NOAA weather reports indicate high winds, big waves and significant precipitation for our area. The marine forecast includes gale warnings in effect as well as small craft advisories for hazardous seas.  Winds may exceed 40 miles per hour with combined seas from four to 18 feet. Savvy anglers have already pulled in their crab pots prior to the storm so as not to lose them to wind, waves and currents.
The weather will calm down for the weekend. We can expect fishing to resume at a steady pace through the remainder of the month, while rockfish and lingcod season is still open. Santa Cruz area reports indicate fishing for rockies and lings is still pretty good along the Capitola reefs, and the deeper reefs off West Cliff, and north to Four-Mile and Five-Mile beaches.  Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine also reports some anglers continue to catch the more tropical bonito in 120 feet of water off Lighthouse Point in Santa Cruz. 
In Monterey, Chris’ Fishing Trips was busy this week stacking up cookie-cutter scores of limits on their crab combo trips.  The Checkmate went out every day last week till Wednesday, and reported full limits of rockfish, lingcod and Dungeness crab for each of the trips.
If the big storm lives up to the predictions, we might see some local flooding and mudslides in our area. On a positive note, rivers and streams will experience a scouring surge with the sudden increase of water volume. Perfect for establishing conditions for our anadromous steelhead trout.  Steelhead season is open in our area right now.  Most of the streams around the bay will be fishable after this weekend. Steelhead regulations are extensive and vary in details from one stream to another. A separate “Steelhead Report Card” is required to pursue these fish legally.  Be very sure to carefully check the official regulations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife before venturing out for steelhead fishing.
While not on the “endangered” list steelheading remains a delicate fishery. Catch and release is recommended even on those few rivers that allow a minimal take of hatchery steelhead. The DFW reminds us “All wild steelhead caught must be released unharmed.” Their release recommendations include these tips:

“Follow these five points to release fish unharmed:
1. Land your fish as carefully and quickly as possible.
2. Try to avoid removing the fish from the water. Underwater unhooking and release is preferred.
3. Do not squeeze the fish, or touch its eyes or gills.
4. Remove only those hooks that you can see and remove easily, otherwise clip the line near the mouth on deep hooked fish.
5. Use artificial lures (no bait) to minimize deep hooking. Barbless hooks or hooks with flattened barbs make unhooking easier and less stressful on the fish.”

There was a big swell in Monterey Bay on Sunday 12-7, and the Caroline found slow crab action and a difficulty locating the pots for only 9 crab for 18 anglers. The rockfish action was much better with 18 limits and over a ling cod per rod at 25 lings. On Saturday, the Check Mate returned with 22 limits of Dungeness crab, 38 ling cod, and limits of rockfish while the Caroline put in 20 limits of rockfish, 29 ling cod, and 29 Dungeness crab. They have plenty of room on the combination trips throughout the week.

The Check Mate out of Chris’s Landing was out on Thursday 12-4, and they returned with 17 limits of Dungeness crab, 21 ling cod, and limits of rockfish. Their combination trips are filled throughout the weekend, but they have room on the Star of Monterey for rockfish/ling cod only trips.

Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel”
The story this week is rain.  Finally, we are experiencing what most consider a regular start to winter rainy season.  Hopefully the pattern will continue, and help to bring us out of the drought conditions of the past few years.  It’s going to take a lot of rain to bring things back to “normal,” but every little bit helps.
Nowhere is this more important than our local streams and rivers, and for the anadromous fish that spawn therein.  Steelhead season opened for our area on December 1.  The San Lorenzo River has reached 500 cubic feet per second a couple times over the past week, but has yet to experience a big, scouring flow that will clean out all the algae and moss growing in the river.  Once scoured, the riverbed upstream becomes perfect habitat for steelhead spawning, with a good mix of boulders, sand and especially gravel beds. Steelhead fishing on northern rivers is doing well, especially those with bigger flows such as the Klamath and Trinity. Locally, steelhead fishing is usually better towards the end of the season.
The series of storms we are experiencing are forecast to last through the weekend, along with sometimes gusty south and southeast winds. Along with a moderate swell, this can create perfect surfcasting conditions.  Already we have received reports of good surfperch fishing from Seventh Avenue Beach on down past Moss landing.  The bigger fish and more consistent catch are closer to the central part of Monterey Bay.  Marina and Seaside have been producing barred surfperch of substantial size, and the southern beach at Moss Landing is always a productive possibility. Bring along some heavier lures, such as KastMasters, Krocodiles, and surface Pencil-Poppers just in case. Striped bass are becoming more active and it pays to be prepared if you see bait busting just past the surf line.
The nasty ocean conditions remind us to be careful when venturing out on the ocean during the winter season. The Santa Cruz Coast Guard Auxiliary will perform a safety check of any vessel upon request, and its just common sense to be confident of the mechanical and electronic components of your boat.  Anything can happen out on the ocean, especially when conditions are less than ideal.
When boaters do get in trouble, we are lucky to have a Vessel Assist craft stationed at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor. Towing and assistance contracts are available for a minimal fee, and Vessel Assist can literally be a lifesaver.  Since October 3 this year, the Vessel Assist has been owned and operated by Monte Ash who is committed to the safety of all boaters in and around our area.
On Sunday, Ash and crew were called into action for a vessel adrift.  Ash recounts “We saved a sailor and his boat from disaster earlier today.  A sailboat called 911 this morning and was put in contact with Coast Guard Station Monterey.  After assessing the situation and confirming the solo sailor was not in immediate peril, the Coast Guard contacted Vessel Assist Santa Cruz which departed Santa Cruz Harbor within 30 minutes headed toward the GPS coordinates of the 911 call.  The sailboat was located in Small Craft Advisory conditions approximately 16 miles northwest of Santa Cruz Harbor.  Almost five hours after departing, Vessel Assist returned with the damaged sailboat in tow, placing the lucky sailor safely at the dock in Santa Cruz Harbor.” 
Vessel Assist can be contact on VHF Channel 16, or locally by phone at 831-359-0702. A nationwide dispatch phone number is also available 24 hours at 800-391-4869
Send your photos, comments or questions to

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported continued excellent crabbing on the Check Mate with 18 limits of Dungeness crab along with limits of rockfish and full limits of ling cod on Sunday 11-30.  The weather was good in the morning before it started to blow around 10:00 a.m. The Star of Monterey went on a rockfish-only trip for 20 limits of ling cod and 3/4th limits of rockfish. The boats continue to jig up the small Spanish mackerel for the heavy ling cod counts. Most boats are averaging from 2 to 3 crab per angler, but the Check Mate continues to find the Mother Lode of Dungeness on all trips. The Check Mate put in 13 limits of lings and crab on Saturday to go with 1/4th limits of rockfish while the Caroline returned with 16 limits of ling cod and rockfish. They are running combination trips throughout the week with plenty of room , but the coming weekend is limited to  openings on the Star of Monterey for rockfish-only.  The weather is sketchy for the next three days with all trips cancelled on Monday.

The good action continues with the Check Mate returning with 20 limits of rockfish and crab along with limits of ling cod on Sunday 11-23 while the Star of Monterey went out on a straight bottom fishing trip for 34 limits of rockfish and ling cod locally outside of Cypress Point.  The small Spanish mackerel are the key to the high ling cod counts, and they are jigging up the bait prior to dropping down for rockfish. They have room on Tuesday and Wednesday of the current week, but they are booked on Friday and Saturday. There is limited room for this coming Sunday.


It’s more of the same in Monterey with Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reporting, “The Caroline put in 10 limits of rockfish and crab along with 10 ling cod on Thursday 11-20.” The crab are holding up in spite of the huge commercial hauls. They are filled through the weekend and throughout most of the holiday week with the exception of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
These late November days may be cold and dreary, the swell might be up and the afternoons windy, but there is still plenty of fishing action to be had in the greater Monterey Bay region. The late fall harvest remains strong and steady. Tops on the fishing list as we head towards Thanksgiving are the Dungeness crab. Commercial crab season started up next week, and it may seem like our area has been carpet-bombed with crab pots. Plenty of big firm crab are crawling however, and sport anglers can still find some open space to set their line of pots.
Many crabbers began the season working the north coast area.  As Dungeness season progresses, we will see more pots moving to the south and east, towards Soquel and Pajaro Holes.  The canyon edges in 180-200 feet of water are classic productive winter crabbing areas.  So far, experienced local crabbers are reporting mostly limits of Dungies, though there have also been reports of thievery, with crab pots coming up empty and unlatched. This is a criminal offense, but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is hard-pressed to enforce the regulations.
Charter boat operations in the Bay continue to offer “combo” trips for Dungeness and rockfish.  Pull the pots first thing in the morning, and spend the next few hours catching rockfish.  Stagnaro’s Sportfishing reported limits from their combo trip last weekend. Ken Stagnaro comments “The Sea Stag Six produced limits of Dungeness crab and cod for everyone. Crabbing has been wide open! Velocity is still running half-day cod trips most days and we are getting close to bag limits if not full limits of fish on most days. We have been getting top quality blue rockfish mainly, with a few lings coming aboard each trip.” Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey also reports limits of rockfish, lingcod and Dungeness crab on each of their trips since the weekend.
We are finding the rockfish and lings a little deeper these days, with the best scores coming from the 80-120 feet of water reefs, and the biggest fish being brought in from the unpopulated coastlines near Big Sur, or north towards Ano Nuevo.  As a bonus, abundant bait has brought Bonito into the Santa Cruz area.  Bonito are like tiny tuna, or turbo-charged mackerel. Frank Ealy at Capitola Boat and Bait reports “They are spread out all along the Pleasure Point area, and even right in front of the Harbor. Look for the feeding birds in about 120 feet of water.  Throw any small shiny lure at them.  Some of the guys are catching them on bait, we have a lot of anchovy fry in the area right now.” The Bonito are very fun to catch on light tackle, and can be quite tasty as well.
Send your reports and fishing photos to Bushnell at  

It’s still happening out of Monterey with 17 limits of rockfish, near limits at 30 ling cod, and 17 limits of crab on the Check Mate on Tuesday 11-18. On Monday, the Check Mate returned with 20 limits of rockfish, limits of ling cod, and limits of crab while the Caroline posted 14 limits of rockfish, limits of crab, and 3/4th limits of rockfish. The boats from Chris’s Landing have limited room through the remainder of the week.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey continued incredible crab action, but the lings and rockfish were less cooperative on Wednesday. After posting limits of everything on Tuesday, the boats returned with limits of rockfish, 23 lings and 23 limits of crab on the Check Mate, limits of rockfish, 30 ling cod, and 15 limits of crab on the Caroline. They are sold out through the weekend, but there is plenty of room during the following weekdays.

Private boater Howard L. of Morgan Hill has been experiencing pot theft out of his 8 pots out of Moss Landing with several other private boaters reporting the same phenomenon of only a few large crab, many rock crab, and loose floats on the surface. He said, “I do not believe the Bayside report or yours when it is said that there are full boats and multiple limits coming from it, I do not see it, the other boats we talk to do not see it. It is plain and simple… There is an organized theft operation going on out there by more than one boat.” So that is a private boater’s perspective of what is going on in Monterey Bay.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Saltwater fishing is still going strong in the Monterey Bay Region.  Add Dungeness crab into the mix, and local anglers and visitors are doing very well indeed.
Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey Harbor keeps multiple boats going even in this slower season.  And, they are doing very well. Relatively light loads of 15-20 anglers aboard the Check Mate, Caroline and the Star of Monterey are averaging about half-limits of rockfish for each trip, and they are bringing home full limits of tasty Dungeness crab. Kahuna Sportfishing from Moss landing took a load down to Big Sur on Sunday and returned with raving reports. Owner Carol Jones reports “Lingcod are still biting like mad dogs. On Sunday we scored limits of ling cod and rock fish including 13 Cabezon!”
Perch fishing is improving for surfcasters working the long stretch of beaches from Seaside up to Pajaro Dunes area.  As we progress into winter, finding these feisty little game fish will become easier, and their size will increase.  Right now, the motor oil red or gold-flaked grubs are working well, as are the GULP Camo Sandworms. If you are getting nibbles but not bringing fish in with the sandworms, try using half or even one third of the worm for better hookups.
On the north side of the Bay, Capitola and Santa Cruz fishing remains steady. Rockfish and lingcod are available on the deeper reefs and Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine reports a resurgence of halibut up the coast and more. “The winds are down and there is only a small swell. Anglers are finding nice mackerel and anchovies in front of the harbor. The crab fishing continues to be great in 150-210 feet of water straight out and up the coast. Rockfish are still on the bite from the Lighthouse to Franklin Point. There have been a few halibut caught near Wilder Beach and 5 Mile. The sea bass fishing is still hit and miss but some anglers are getting lucky. The best bet has been to chase the bait balls down and drift some Squid or drop a Glow jig.”
Ed Burrell at Capitola Boat and Bait has been chasing white sea bass as well.  “They can be anywhere from South Rock down to La Selva Beach. Mark Gera from Capitola Boat and Bait caught a 56-pounder the other day using a swimbait in 50 feet of water below Capitola.” Burrell said. “I’ve hooked up mostly by trolling something small and flashy, like a Lazer Minnow or an Apex lure, at five or six knots.”
Burrell also reports anglers are having a blast using light gear to catch speedy little Bonito which are like a cross between a mackerel and a tuna. They are also pretty tasty.  The Bonito have been reported off South Rock, the SC3 Buoy, and near the Cement Ship. They will hit on Kastmasters or any small silver lure and are tons of fun with light spinning gear. Bonito are very rare for this area, so get them while you can, if you can
Send your reports and fishing photos to Bushnell at  

The beat goes on in Monterey with the boats from Chris’s Landing returning with the Check Mate 24 limits of rockfish, 24 limits of ling cod, and 24 limits of Dungeness crab on Wednesday, and the Caroline posting 14 limits of lings and crab with limits of rockfish. The Star of Monterey put in 9 limits of rockfish and 9 limits of ling cod on a rockfish-only trip.
The action remained hot on Thursday 11-6 with 24 limits of rockfish, 27 ling cod, and limits of crab on the Caroline while the Check Mate put in 17 limits of ling cod and limits of rockfish.  They are sold out through the weekend, but there is room the following week.
he continued presence of white sea bass in the area.  Burrell hooked two bass on Wednesday, both in the 25-30 pound range, using a Laser Minnow lure. While the exact location of his catch is unknown, he usually does pretty well just east of Capitola, as well as near the SC3 Buoy in 70 feet of water closer to Pleasure Point. And, Todd Fraser at Bayside describes “huge schools of mackerel and a few bonito from 140-220 feet of water from the Lighthouse to 5 Mile Beach.   That could be fun on light tackle, for sure.

The rockfish and crab action remains tremendous with the Check Mate returning with 25 limits of Dungeness crab, 25 ling cod, and 3/4th limits of rockfish while the Caroline found 13 limits of Dungeness crab, 14 lings, and 3/4th limits of rockfish on Tuesday 11-4. Limits of crab have been taken on all trips since the opener, and the pots have been so stuffed after an overnight soak that one pot actually broke at the seams. The crab are averaging between 1.5 and 2-pounds, and they are heavy and full of meat. Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing said, “It is unbelievable, and we captured this action on video and it is truly impressive.” They are filled on all trips until Monday. You can see the video of Tuesday’s action on Chris’s Fishing Trips Facebook Page or at the following link

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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