Chris' Fishing Trips
& Whale Watching

(831) 375-5951

Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866


October 02, 2015    Headlines

Solid Rockfish and Ling Action!

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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