Captain Steve Mitchell

May 23, 2017    Headlines

Halibut Bite Breaks Open

The Bays:

By Dave Hurley
The south bay, central bay, and San Pablo Bay have been the highlight of the Bay Area's saltwater action for the past week, and this week is ending with spectacular halibut fishing in the central bay along with amazing sturgeon action in San Pablo Bay.  Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley couldn’t do any better than 8 limits plus a bonus crew fish on the boat on Thursday 5-18 as they only had 8 passengers.
Ed Liu at Bay Tackle in El Cerrito confirmed the outstanding halibut fishing in the central bay on the Berkeley Flats and near the barges close to the Bay Bridge. George Liu, owner of Bay Tackle, took out a few novice fishermen to the Berkeley Flats this week, and there were too many missed opportunities to end up with two legal fish at 10 and 15 pounds. Ed said, “There are a few party boats who really have the drift figured out, and the fish are there, but you have to use the right technique and drift. Shore anglers are scoring both halibut and striped bass with Slab Zone swimbaits, bucktail jigs, Kastmasters, or 5/8th oz. Krocodiles. Some of the fishermen are replacing the treble hooks on the Krocodiles with a Siwash hook and using either a bucktail or mylar. The 25 to 30 mph winds have been a deterrent, but as the winds are dying down, casting from the shoreline is much easier.”
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael called with an ‘epic’ sturgeon report this afternoon. He said, “Ross Peterson went out with a friend on Wednesday with 6 dozen live mud shrimp and 3 dozen live ghost shrimp, and they anchored near the Pumphouse from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They released 12 legal striped bass, 10 shaker sturgeon, 4 slot-limit sturgeon, and an oversized estimated at 120 pounds before running out of bait. Peterson has been treated to some incredible action this spring as when we went out on our first trip for only two hours, we hooked 8 sturgeon and landed 6. His next trip was a five-hour tour, and he and a friend hooked 10 sturgeon and 12 legal striped bass. This is just fabulous fishing, and even that the tides were mediocre, it hasn’t seemed to make much difference. The weather has been the limiting factor, but it is expected to be nice on Friday and even nicer on Saturday. We are stocking up with live ghost shrimp for the weekend with a supply of live mud shrimp to arrive before next weekend’s huge 1.6 – 1.7 feet minus tides. We also have plenty of shiners, and Tommy Glaser was out trolling frozen herring today, and he wished he had shiners as he landed a limit of halibut to 8 pounds along with releasing 5 shakers. If he had live bait, the halibut could very possibly have been larger. Captain Gordie Hough on the Morningstar was out for sturgeon on Wednesday, and his 13 anglers ended up with 9 striped bass, three slot-limit sturgeon, and 7 shaker sturgeon.
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported sturgeon action has slowed down as the diamondbacks are moving out of the river into San Pablo Bay and beyond. Striped bass fishing has been best with bait, but the river is clearing up. Trollers are working from the Imola Bridge to Kennedy Park, and the water is clearing up enough to start plugging for stripers.

Halibut fishing has been solid with the Happy Hooker, now run by Chris and Jonathan Smith, posting a fish per rod on Saturday with 21 halibut and 3 striped bass for 24 anglers. Sunday’s Mother’s Day 5-14 score was a bit less with 12 halibut and a pair of stripers working the south bay. They have open loads this coming Thursday through Sunday.
The New Huck Finn out of Emeryville found great action on Mother’s Day with 19 halibut to a whopping 36 pounds along with a 5-pound striped bass working in front of the harbor.

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