Chris' Fishing Trips
& Whale Watching

(831) 375-5951

Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866


January 27, 2017    Headlines

Crabs & Dabs

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips said, “Thursday 1-26 was the first day we have gone out for sand dab/Dungeness crab in the last 10 days, and the results weren’t very good with 17 sand dabs and 30 crab for 10 anglers. The swell was huge at between 15 and 20 feet, and the sand dabs don’t bite when there is a big swell. During our last trips, we slaughtered the sand dabs and even had limits of crab on one trip, but Tinker on the Check Mate was only able to locate 11 of 16 pots with the big swell. Last weekend brought the largest swell in recorded history in Monterey Bay at 34 feet. We will be running the combination trips depending upon both interest and the weather.”
The 13th Annual Sand Crab Classic is coming to Santa Cruz and the adjacent coastline on Saturday, March 11th, and the entries are limited to 300 participants with a registration deadline of February 12th. As of today, 185 participants are registered, leaving just over 100 places remaining.

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

It is shaping up to be a historical winter with the succession of big wave events. Especially this last storm that included the largest swell ever recorded from a Monterey Bay buoy (34 feet). The constant waves have a drastic affect on beach sand, especially combined with silt deposited in the ocean from gushing local creeks and streams.
The Santa Cruz Harbor entrance is extremely shallow right now. The daily depth sounding report Wednesday showed zero to one foot across mouth of harbor, except for a small strip on the eastern edge measured at 8-10 feet in depth. Complicating harbor access is a sandbar just outside the jetties only three to six feet deep, effectively shutting the entrance. Minus tides in the afternoons over the weekend will make the harbor entrance dangerous.
Harbor officials advise the boat launch ramp remains open but boaters should proceed with extreme caution. The dredge is working at full capacity and could have a navigable channel established within a week, two at the most. More big waves might slow that process. The National Weather Service forecast for Friday predicts a “west swell 11 to 15 feet with swell periods of 18 to 20 seconds,” and “local breakers in excess of 20 feet.”
Monterey and Moss Landing Harbors remain fully open though both locations had to deal with minor problems created by the surge effect last week’s waves created. Slip renters at all the Monterey Bay harbors would be well advised to double check their moorings and lines as this wave train continues. As the conditions suggest, fishing is rather slow right now.
Charter boats have remained at the dock for the past week, though a few crabbers are still working in deep water. Dungeness fishing seems to be better near Monterey for commercial crabbers working their secret spots in 280-320 feet of water.
The other local alternative is surfcasting. Big perch are here and the occasional striped bass should be no surprise. This week the beaches closer to the center of Monterey Bay were the best bet. Big sandbars have built up far from the beach, and there are plenty of trenches and holes to explore within easy casting distance.  Reports from the beaches below Rio Del Mar included limits of barred surfperch and at least one legal striped bass.
The two-inch "camo" sandworms are still the bait of choice for perch and stripers will grab them as well. Tie a 24-48-inch leader with a #2 or #4 hook below a sliding egg sinker and use a slow steady retrieve to find the fish. Once you find the spot where fish are biting you can cast more precisely. Another alternative is throwing smaller sized Krokodiles or KastMasters. Stripers go after shiny hardware and the bigger perch will hit them as well.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported Thursday 12-29 outstanding ling cod action as the season closes. The crab counts remain extremely low at 1 to 2 per anglers, and this portaken off on the crab front this year. The Check Mate has been using live mackerel for  13 limits of ling cod along with 1/4th limits of rockfish while the Caroline posted 25 lings, 44 Dungeness crab, and 1/4th limits of rockfish for 18 anglers.  Arcoleo said, “There have been several big female lings in the 20-pound range, and one angler released a huge 35 pounder after taking a weight.”
The Star of Monterey focused on rockfish with 20 limits and 18 lings on Thursday. Wednesday’s trip on the Check Mate resulted in 37 lings and 3/4th limits of rockfish on the Check Mate. Chris’s is running sand dab/crab trips through the winter months.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz/Sentinel
We were favored with decent weather and ocean conditions this week, making it easier to get out for rockfish and Dungeness crab on the Monterey Bay. The forecast weather gurus suggest these mild conditions will hold through next week, with only a possibility of intermittent light rain over the weekend.

Launching from the Monterey Harbor, Chris’ Fishing Trips sent out two boats on Wednesday. Anglers aboard the Check Mate caught limits of rockfish and 37 lingcod, while those who took the “combo” trip on the Caroline caught half-limits of cod, 23 lings plus 11 Dungeness crab as a bonus prize.

In Santa Cruz the story was much the same with steady fishing for inshore rockfish and plenty of lingcod on the bite. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reported, “Rockfish was a little slower due to the new swell. There were some nice fish at Natural Bridges. The crab fishing is getting better in 220 feet of water. Perch fishing has been good near Manresa.”

Ocean swells are still kicking up lots of old seaweed and seagrass, which hampers surfcasting efforts. Usually within a day or two, the weeds subside and the water cleans up. Perch fishing in general has been a little slower these past couple weeks, but we expect things to pick up as we move into the real “season” for perch, from January through April.

Steelhead hunters might do well to look northwards soon. The big rivers and coastal streams of Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt Counties will be coming into shape soon. Even closer, the American River can host some amazing steelhead action, especially with the increased water flows from Nimbus Dam releases. Famed fishing guide JD Richey commented on the January 1 steelhead season opener, ““Flows on the American went to 35,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) last week...and that should have brought some fish in!! Flows are dropping now and will be 6,000 cfs by New Year’s Day. The color is still off at the moment but we have a week for it to clear up. Could be a pretty cool opener!”

Don’t forget to renew your fishing license and send in any species report cards to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Current licenses expire after December 31st. And, Jeff Goyert reminds us to add the Santa Cruz Flyfishers Annual Fund Raising Dinner to our calendars. Scheduled for January 21, this will be a “‪wild caught salmon dinner catered by Jozseph Schultz of "India Joze" fame, ” says Goyert.

He adds, “The fly fishing club, which was established in 1977, holds this yearly event to fund wildlife habitat conservation efforts, youth outdoor programs, and local school watershed education. The dinner is being held at the Peace United Church of Christ, 900 High Street in Santa Cruz. Tickets will be available at the door starting at 5 pm; $40 for adults, $25 for kids 12 and under. For more information, visit the club website at”
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Santa Cruz reported good ling cod action over the past few days as the swell has backed off. They didn’t fish on Thursday 12-9, but Wednesday’s trip on the Check Mate produced 10 lings along with 1/4th limits of rockfish and just over 5/crab per angler for 10 passengers. Tuesday’s trip resulted in 30 lings and nearly 6 crab along with 1/4th limits of rockfish for 12 anglers. Monday’s trip was excellent with the Check Mate scoring 21 lings, limits of rockfish, and 6 crab for a light load of 8 anglers.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel: 
It really feels like winter now. Temperatures are down and the surf is up. Best of all, it’s raining again!
Of all these conditions, dedicated anglers might value the rain most of all. Besides mitigating our four-year drought, a significant rainfall year can mean good steelhead fishing and higher survival rates for the king salmon that are spawning right now in northern California rivers. Steelhead season is open in our area, but it is too early to expect any adult steelies in our local streams. Once the flows increase in Monterey Bay creeks and streams, adult steelhead will return for spawning. Anglers who hunt these beautiful ocean-going trout must remember to check the local regulations stringently. In our area, fishing is allowed only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Barbless hooks only may be used. Low-flow restrictions might be implemented by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife later this year as well.
Rockfish and Dungeness crab continue as primary targets for local fishing on the salt. Chris’ fishing trips in Monterey have been doing fairly well, reporting half-limits of rockfish and around five Dungeness crab per angler aboard the Check Mate, Caroline and Star of Monterey. Crabbers in Santa Cruz are having best results finding the Dungies in deeper this week, in 200-250 feet of water according to Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine.
For maximum angling action it’s never a bad idea to travel a bit, this time of year. Captain Jay Yokomizo on The New Huck Finn out of Emeryville is reporting full limits of rockfish, ling cod and Dungeness crab for all his clients this week.  Yokomizo is steaming through the Golden Gate and finding success off the Marin Coast.
Another option is fishing the Sacramento and American Rivers, which are getting hot right now. Famed fishing guide JD Richey transitioned from river salmon to striped bass last week, and is reporting excellent results. On Thursday this week Richey said, “The king salmon action finally has petered out and now it's time for Delta stripers! Fishing from Saturday to Tuesday has been solid, though yesterday we had to really look around until we found the Mother Lode. Once we got on ‘em, it was red hot. Still plenty of smaller fish around but some nice ones mixed in too.”
Richey has been guiding in the Sacramento area, the Trinity and Klamath Rivers or Alaska since 1998. Besides having top-shelf professional gear and decades of targeted experience, he has the knowledge to put his clients right on the fish. With luck, we will be posting a personal river striper report in the very near future.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “We are going to start targeting ling cod with live sand dabs since the rockfishing has been very slow on the local reefs. The Star of Monterey went south to Point Sur on Saturday 12-3 for limits of quality rockfish and 27 ling cod for 20 anglers, but on the local reefs on the same day, the Check Mate came up with limits of rockfish, 4 lings, and less than a crab per person on Saturday with the Caroline finding similar action with a crab per angler along with limits of rockfish. Sunday was better with limits of rockfish, 5 lings and 22 crab for 20 anglers with the Caroline posting 3/4th limits of rockfish, 4 ling, and 28 crab for 16 anglers. Crabbing has been really slow, and the commercial crab boats are also struggling. There are plenty of sardines and anchovies along the coast, and the humpback whales are sticking around. We are seeing the humpbacks every day, and the gray whales should be coming down the coast soon.” They have plenty of room on the combination trips this week

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported a bit of a swell on Wednesday 11-23, but the Check Mate was able to load up with 17 limits of rockfish, 6 ling cod, and 68 crab for an average of 5/crab per angler. The Caroline put in3/4th limit of rockfish, 6 lings and 42 crab for 13 anglers. They are filled on the combination trips for the holiday weekend, but there is room starting on Monday.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Happy Thanksgiving to all the fishing families of the Monterey Bay area! Hopefully everyone enjoyed some tasty fresh Dungeness crab along with the traditional turkey dinner. Commercial crabbers are now working this part of the coast, which means there are a lot of crab traps have been deployed on the flat bottom areas between 180-300 feet of water. Sport crabbers have been doing fairly well placing pots in the 150 to 220-foot depths. While the numbers of crab per pot have been low so far this season, the quality of crab is high. The Dungies are big and firm, which makes for good eating.
Most charter operations are running crab/rockfish combination trips, and can do so until December 31, when rockfish season ends. This is a great opportunity to get out on the bay and return with a variety for your family seafood buffet. Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey have been averaging half-limits of rockfish and a few crab for each angler aboard their boats. Chris’ also counted up to 15 lingcod per trip last week. Randy’s Fishing have worked the same areas near Monterey with slightly better results, returning with full limits of rockfish and up to five crab per angler on their boats Sur Randy and Chubasco.
In Santa Cruz, the fishing seemed a bit better this week. Beth Thomas from Go Fish Santa Cruz had good news to report on Tuesday saying, “Our combo rock cod and crab charter today was with Robert and his family from Lake Tahoe. They couldn’t have picked a nicer day to fish the Monterey Bay. We fished locally and caught quality limits of a variety of rockfish and a beautiful ling cod. These fish are truly a monster looking fish from the sea, and are fun to catch but better yet to eat. Our crab pots were two short of limits. Big and beautiful. Yummy. According to Captain Jimmy Rubin ‘it doesn’t get any better than this’.” Wednesday’s trip aboard the beautiful Miss Beth also netted near-limits of Dungeness crab, but only half-limits of rockfish. Skipper Jim Rubin did report seeing a good number of bluefin tuna in the area, which might bode well for tuna fishing in the near future. As Thomas reports, “The bluefin tuna were running but that is exactly what they were doing – running. They are not biting.”
Good news on the surfcasting front. Beaches south of Seacliff are starting to get in shape due to the heavy wave action of the past few weeks. We are starting to see holes and rip currents emerge as sand is scoured from the flat summer beaches. This is very promising for perch fishing as well as hunting for the elusive Monterey Bay striped bass.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Monterey Bay:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported continued slow crabbing with the slower counts possibly due to the big swell. The Check Mate did put in 75 crab for 16 anglers along with rockfish limits and 5 ling cod while the Caroline only ended up with 12 Dungeness along with limits of rockfish and a pair of ling cod on Sunday 11-13. He said, “Crabbing has been tough as the swell has something to do with it, but it seems like there is a lack of crab out there.” They are busy throughout the week on the combination trips, but there are a few openings this coming Wednesday and Thursday.  

Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Ocean swells went from big to huge this week before dropping down to merely big again. Other conditions were pleasant, but fishing slowed markedly for most Monterey Bay anglers. This was especially true for anglers pulling pots for Dungeness crab. Dungeness season opened last Saturday. Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine reported, “The anglers who did quick soaks on the crab did not get many crabs. There was one boat who had 11 crabs in 180 feet of water.” Fraser noted crabbing got better as the week progressed especially for those working pots in 200 feet of water near the Soquel Hole.
Boats working from Monterey Harbor seemed to be doing about the same on Dungeness during opening week. Chris’ Fishing Trips and Randy’s Sportfishing counted mostly limits of rockfish on their combo trips this week but averaged only 3-5 Dungies per angler. In contrast, Jay Yokomizo on The New Huck Finn out of Emeryville took his clients out of the Golden Gate on opening day and returned with full limits of 10 rockfish and 10 Dungeness crab for all aboard. There have been some daily crab limits taken here in Monterey Bay this week, most likely by particularly savvy anglers.
Rockfishing will stay steady especially when the swell is down. From Monterey, the reefs off of Point Joe and Carmel are always a good bet, and from Santa Cruz, the usual deepwater spots near Natural Bridges, South Rock and the North Coast area will provide good rockfish and lingcod fishing. We’ve not seen any confirmed reports of bluefin tuna caught in Monterey Bay this season, though confirmed sightings are on the rise.|
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife informed us of proposed changes to the recreational groundfish regulations for next year, the 2017-2018 fishing season. The regs are becoming more liberal in terms of legal fishing depth, but more constricted in terms of take. For the Central Management Area from Pigeon Point to Point Conception the changes include opening rockfish, cabezon and greenling fishing (RCG Complex) out to 300 feet of water. Current regs allow RCG fishing only to 240 feet. The bag limit on black rockfish drops from five fish to three fish per day and lingcod drops from three fish to only two. Bocaccio, currently limited to three per day, will be opened wide. We can keep up to 10 per day as opposed to the current limit of three. Perhaps most significant is the possible lifting the eight-year ban on canary rockfish. We can now keep one canary per day “since it has now been declared rebuilt,” according to the DFW. These are proposed changes only, but the DFW typically adheres to their projections.
If you did not get a ticket to the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project Albacore Feed in Castroville November 12, do not despair. Tickets will be available at the Recreation Center front door, 11261 Crane Street, Castroville. This annual benefit features tons of prizes and special auction items in addition to the succulent albacore dinner. All proceeds go to support steelhead and salmon in the Monterey Bay area.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to


Monterey Bay:
Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported rockfish limits despite the large swell along the coast. The Check Mate returned with 21 limits of rockfish and 3 crab per angler on Thursday 11-10. Wednesday’s trip on the Star of Monterey put up 16 limits of rockfish and 4  ling cod while the Check Mate returned with 3/4th limits of rockfish, 3 lings, and  78 Dungeness crab for 13 anglers along with 3/4th limits of rockfish and 26 crab for 13 anglers on the Caroline. They have been having a hard time getting located on the crab, but once the swell backs off, it might be a different story.

Keith Semler of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey limits of rockfish along with some healthy ling counts have been the rule over the past couple of days. The Check Mate returned with 13 limits of rockfish, 31 lings, and a bonus 20-pound halibut on Wednesday 10-26 with the Star of Monterey posting 29 lings along with 28 limits of rockfish on Thursday. The Caroline scored 29 limits of rockfish and a ling on Thursday. They have an open 12:30 day trip on Saturday for $60.00/angler, and there is also room on Sunday. Semler said, “There are lots of anchovies in the bay right now.”

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel 

Monterey Bay anglers are excited about the 2016-2017 Dungeness crab season, scheduled to open next week on November 5th. A few regulations must be noted prior to going out and dropping traps.
First, traps cannot be deployed until 12:01am Saturday November 5. As of this year, all traps must be equipped with a “destruct device” also known as “rotten cotton.” Essentially, this is a hole in the crab trap sealed off only by a string that will decompose quickly. In the case of lost or abandoned traps, this allows crab and other organisms to escape the trap if not harvested or returned to the sea by fishermen in the hauling process. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife describes rotten cotton as “a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed opening in the top or upper half of the trap that is at least five inches in diameter when the device material corrodes.” Also, all crab pot buoys now must be clearly marked with the operator’s “Go-ID,” the number assigned by DFW during the licensing process.
Other Dungeness regulations remain the same as last year, DFW informs us. “The daily bag and possession limit for Dungeness crab remains at ten crabs per day with the minimum size limit of 5-3⁄4 inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from the edges of the shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).”
A weak storm front will traverse our area over the coming weekend, bringing some rain, south winds and some larger swells up to seven feet. Prior to this weather, fishing remained consistent all along the bay. Rockfish and lingcod catches stayed steady on all the usual reefy areas, with Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey reporting rockfish limits for their clients
 along with one or two lingcod and one bonus 20-pound halibut this week.
A couple surprise catches underscore the transitional aspect of fishing this time of year.
 Bayside Marine’s Todd Fraser reported a notable catch by one of his private boater clients on Sunday. “There was a nice 90-pound thresher shark caught at Five-Mile beach today.”
 We still have a few fingers of warm water close offshore, and anglers continue to look for the elusive bluefin tuna. Skipper Tom Joseph on the Sara Bella slow-trolled live sardines last week on the tuna hunt, coming home with another exotic. “Today we went looking for tuna out of Santa Cruz. Weather was not the best but we gave it a try. We ended the day with our prize fish being a 78-pound Opah. We did mark a few bluefin tuna, but could not get them to bite,” Joseph reported.

Monterey Bay:

Captain Tom Joseph was out after bluefin on Thursday 10-20. Fishing off Santa Cruz from 12 to 18 miles out he was marking scattered bluefin in singles and pairs outside the outer Canyon edges. Working his usual setup of two down riggers with stacked leaders at 50 to 150 feet with slow trolled mackerel or sardines on long leaders. Tom said the water looked great with scattered surface bait and single and small groups of bluefin marking on the meter over a wide area. They had one hookup and Marvin Chow from Prunedale landed a first on Tom's boat a 75 pound Opah. Tom said the bite was fast and hard like a bluefin but after he saw color knew they were into something special. The forecast calls for good weather on Sunday and Tom will be running again for BF. He needs another couple of anglers to join the one on the books to be able to make the trip out of Santa Cruz

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported Thursday 10-20 , “ The Check Mate went out today with 25 anglers, and they were able to jig up fresh squid on the way out to the ground. They ended up with 3/4th limits of rockfish and 46 ling cod to 20 pounds.” He added that one private boat landed 6 bluefin tuna trolling plugs 5 to 6 miles off of the area from Cypress Point and south, and their whale watching trip on Wednesday saw the bluefin jumping. The tuna have been from Cypress Point south to Point Sur and along around 6 miles off of the coastline. They are rockfishing this weekend, and there are 10 spots available for Sunday.

There are also bluefin tuna holding in the area just north of Morro Bay with the fish found in the temperature break at 62/63 degrees. These tuna are in the 50 to 90-pound range, but actually landing the fish is a trick since the catch ratio is around 1 to 3 or 1 to 4.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel 
The stormy weekend kept boats tied to the dock, while surfcasters retreated from the pounding waves along Monterey Bay beaches. As the weather settled during this week, fishing resumed despite a lingering swell.
Rockfish and lingcod fishing seems to have been unaffected by the early season storm. Reports indicate the schooling yellows, black and blue rockfish are still very willing to bite along local reefs outside Monterey and from Capitola to Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz. Forays to more remote locations near Big Sur or towards the San Mateo County line are sure to provide quicker limits of bigger fish.

Ling cod counts in particular should be rising as their spawning season approaches and more lings arrive in the shallows. For a great fishing day, start out fishing for sand dabs from 120-240 feet of water. Save the big ‘dabs for lunch and keep the small ones alive for lingcod bait. They are like candy for big lings.
The recent storm with its big northwest swell began our yearly restructuring of Monterey Bay beaches. The sand deposited during summer is scoured from the beaches in winter. This process began a bit early this year with the recent storm. The news is exciting for surfcasters as new structure takes shape on the long sandy stretches of beach that ring the bay. Pounding waves, heavy currents and outflowing rips create deep spots and trenches along the beaches, perfect habitat for hungry surf perch and striped bass. The bite for both beach species has been consistent all summer and into fall, which bodes well for surf fishing this winter.
Big fish honors go this week to local anglers Jim Salvino and Glen Wilson. The pair took a two-day trip aboard the Top Gun 80 out of San Diego late last week. Ed Burrell from Capitola Boat and Bait caught them in a pose before they processed their yellowfin tuna using the Wharf’s cleaning table. Salvino’s fish weighed in at 39 pounds and Wilson’s tipped the scales at 37. Burrell also notes local fishing is steady, with the most notable local catch being a hefty halibut caught by Bob Dice using a live mackerel near the SC3 Buoy on Wednesday.
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reminds us that Dungeness crab season is expected to open as scheduled on November 5, 2016. Fraser is still holding out hope for a possible bluefin tuna bite in our area this year. On Wednesday he reported, “There is some green mixed warm water out about 15 miles. There are schools of bait out there and some fish (bluefin) were seen slashing through the bait today. We hope to get more boats looking for bluefin soon.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Monterey Bay:
Keith Semler of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported limits of rockfish came in the past two days with 18 limits and 3 ling cod on Thursday 10-14 in tough weather conditions on the Caroline while the Check Mate returned with 17 limits and 9 lings on Wednesday. The bluefin tuna went back down after jumping the past few days, and when the boats went looking for them, but they weren’t to be found. A 91-pound bluefin tuna was hooked on a rockfishing trip out of Morro Bay, and the fisherman landed the big fish. They must be around.

Monterey/Santa Cruz by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Monterey Bay anglers enjoyed fantastic weather and sea conditions this week, but that will change soon. Our first major winter storm is fast approaching and it will persist through Monday. This is a major event according to National Weather Service forecasters, with a west swell up to 14 feet with a 16-second period and winds from the south predicted up to 25 knots.

Official NWS high surf and coastal flooding advisories are in effect for Friday, October 14. Forecasters warn of strong rip currents and large shore break waves over the weekend. The combination of big waves and onshore winds could create local flooding as well, due to “a combination of high tide and beaches in their summer sand profiles. These summer sand profiles are poor in preventing wave run-up and allow waves to reach areas further inland,” forecasters caution. It will be interesting to see how the fishing might change after this early winter storm.

The past week was very productive all around the bay. Go Fish Santa Cruz took the beautiful Miss Beth off Natural Bridges and Wilder Ranch areas on Wednesday and Thursday. Captain Jim Rubin called conditions “Drop-dead gorgeous,” and clients caught full limits of rockfish including blues, blacks and olives. Launching from Moss Landing, Kahuna Sportfishing fished the Big Sur area on Monday. Owner Carol Jones called it a “spectacular day down the coast fishing for rockfish and lingcod. Our group of 15 anglers landed limits of rockfish with some nice coppers, vermilion, a few cabezone and two around on the lingcod to 15 pounds.”

Perhaps most exciting is the increasing number of bluefin tuna sighted within Monterey Bay. A number of reports were forwarded over the past couple weeks claiming bluefin jumpers near Point Pinos in Monterey. This week the rumors are solidifying, according to Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine. Fraser says, “There have been a few boats looking for bluefin and seeing them. The bluefin are in the same area as last year about 9-13 miles out. The anglers are having a hard time getting these fish to bite due to their spooky nature.” In 2015 we enjoyed a month or so of bluefin fishing with the tuna grounds stretching from Davenport down to just outside Santa Cruz, in 400-1400 feet of water. Hopefully the weekend storm won’t drive these fish away.

Speaking of tuna, everyone is invited to the 39th Annual Albacore Feed, a benefit dinner for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. Fresh albacore is coming from Oregon this year for the yearly dinner and raffle extravaganza. The event takes place on November 12 at the Castroville Recreation Center, 11621 Crane Street, Castroville. Tickets cost only $20 and are available at the door or via the MBSTP website

It is more of the same with out of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey with 36 limits of rockfish along with 10 lings on Sunday 9-25 on the Star of Monterey while the Caroline returned with limits of rockfish and 28 lings for 28 anglers on Saturday. They have room throughout the week, but next weekend is already filled.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey reported Thursday 9-15 the squid schools are starting to move back into Monterey Bay, and they jigged up both sand dabs and squid to help bolster their ling cod counts on Wednesday and Thursday. The Caroline went out with 20 anglers on Thursday for  limits of ling cod (30) and limits of ling cod for 10 anglers while Wednesday’s score was 35 lings and 3/4th limits of lings for 20 anglers. They have been fishing locally. The next two weekends are sold out, but they have plenty of room throughout the weekdays.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
The next few weeks are “prime time” for fishing in the Monterey Bay region. Summer crowds are gone, Days are warm, the number of low-wind days increases and multiple species remain on the bite.
Nearshore, rockfish and lingcod are being cooperative. The deeper reefs are a better bet, in order to avoid the juveniles who are hanging out in the shallows.  Most of the 80-120 foot rocky areas are holding suspended schools of nice yellows and black rockfish. Big lingcod, grumpy browns and vermilion can be found right on the bottom, but watch out for snags!
Capitola anglers are pulling in lings from Adam’s Reef and the SC3 Buoy areas. Santa Cruz anglers fishing South Rock and the West Cliff Reefs are seeing near-limits of quality rockfish as well.
Halibut fishing started slow this year, but the fall season seems to be pretty normal. The big flatties we find in 60-80 feet of water each autumn are here, and they are biting. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reported on Sunday, “There were a few halibut caught near Capitola in 70 feet of water. There was a angler bounce-ball trolling for halibut near the Cement Ship that did good. There were some halibut caught in Monterey near the Hotel.”
Salmon season is closed in our area, but a few high-liners are doing very well launching from Half Moon Bay. Captain Tom Joseph with Fish On Sportfishing has been netting limits nearly every day this week. Joseph related some details from Wednesday’s trip, fishing near Pedro Point and Pacifica Pier, “Today our party of four boated eight salmon 10-16 pounds. They hooked a total of 15 just another great day on the water. There is a good evening bite and I will be running trips for those of you that that are interested.”
Another salmon alternative is just starting to shape up. If you’ve never caught a wild king salmon with a KwikFish on a river, you have a life-altering experience ahead of you. Famed guide JD Richey is running trips on the Sacramento and American Rivers for the next couple weeks, before he moves his operation to the Klamath-Trinity area. Richey is excited about what he is seeing this week, saying “We have been waiting on the kings to show...and they are finally making their first big push right now. About a month late, we were starting to think they weren't coming at all but fishing suddenly turned on the past several days!”
November 8 is election day. Residents in the Santa Cruz Port District have the opportunity to vote for three Port Commissioners this year. This could be a critical vote and an opportunity to rebalance the Commission with officials who are also anglers. Candidate statements are located here:,2016PresidentialGeneralElection/ ContestsClosedGoingtoElection.aspx 

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey reported continued outstanding rockfish and ling cod action close to the harbor with the Check Mate scoring limits of lings along with 3/4th limits of rockfish for a small charter of 8 on Sunday 8-28. The Caroline posted 3/4th limits of rockfish and 15 lings for limits of ling cod for 29 anglers. They continue to jig up fresh squid in the morning, and Arcoleo said, “The squid is really big and fat, so they must have stayed offshore during the El Nino current as they have come in with great size.” They are sold out next weekend during the holiday, but there is plenty of room throughout the coming week for rockfish/ling cod trips.

Troy at Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey reported a great rockfish bite with 23 limits along with 35 lings on the Caroline with the Star of Monterey returning with 3/4th limits of rockfish along with 30 lings for 19 anglers on Sunday 8-21. Saturday brought out an impressive score on the Star of Monterey with 52 ling cod and 3/4th limits of rockfish for 29 anglers. Fresh squid remains the trick for the lings on a live bait rig. They have room throughout the week on their rockfish/ling cod trips.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips reported continued great ling cod action with the Check Mate returning with 25 limits of lings on Wednesday along with limits of rockfish. He said, “We have been concentrating on the lings with fresh squid since the rockfish are still not biting like they should. The Caroline took out 10 anglers on Thursday 8-18 for near limits of ling cod at 26 along with limits of rockfish. There have been several big lings in the 12 to 15-pound range. We also released 2 salmon in the past few days while rockfishing. Striped bass are still holding along the beaches, and Zmudowski State Beach has been producing stripers in the 12- to 15- pound range. There is plenty of live squid in the bay, but the white sea bass have yet to show up.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
If you could only fish Monterey Bay once per year, this coming week might be a good time to do so. Though salmon season is closed as of last Friday, fishing for other varied species has been good and is getting better. Aternoons have been windy, but morning conditions are very fishable with little swell and glassy conditions.
Ken Stagnaro from Stagnaro’s Sportfishing is stoked. With two big charter boats in Santa Cruz Harbor, Stagnaro is reporting an uptick in an already productive rockfish season. He says, “Cod fishing has really been heating up lately. Legacy returned from their seven-hour trip with limits of big cod and 48 lingcod for 19 guys. On the half-day trip Friday they had near-limits of really nice yellows, blacks and some big reds for 20 people. Look for our new nine-hour North Coast trip to begin in in late July, which will run through September.”
With the renowned Captain Jimmy Rubin at the helm, the six-pack boat Miss Beth from Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters had a great outing on Thursday.  Rubin recounts, “Today our charter went up the coast and found a it to be windy with rough waters. We came back down hill and caught some nice rock cod and lingcod. We did a couple in shore drifts and pulled in a nice halibut. Overall it was a fun and beautiful day on the Monterey Bay.”
Monterey rock fishing is much the same, with both Chris’ Fishing Trips and Randy’s Sportfishing posting scoring limits of rockfish and limits or near-limits of lingcod on most trips from Monterey Harbor. Moss Landing’s Kahuna Sportfishing is adding some spice to the fishing mix by hosting special halibut and white sea bass trips, inspired by the recent surge of spawning squid in the bay.
Anyone looking over the bay after sunset will notice numerous squid boats with their bright lights, working from Rio Del Mar down towards Moss Landing this past week.  Carl Azevedo from Bocci Boy Bait Company says there are more than 30 squid boats in the bay right now. Each of these commercial seiners can load up to 30 tons of squid per night. With the pressure of all these big net boats, the squid will likely scatter, and most of the boats will move on looking for their next big haul. The squid spawns attract big white sea bass to our area however, and we are seeing an increase in the number of tanker bass caught locally in the past couple weeks. Using a flylined live squid, or a bounce-ball setup with squid are great ways to hook these hard-fighting fish. White sea bass can weigh up to 60 pounds and are the most delicious table fare.
Live squid is also a killer bait for the increasing number of halibut getting hooked recently. Natural Bridges, the West Cliff kelp edges, the Mile Buoy area and Capitola, all in 60-70 feet of water are productive halibut hunting grounds these days.
On a final note, Captain Tom Joseph with Fish On Sportfishing took an exploratory offshore albacore trip this week. Joseph found good conditions but no albacore yet. He reported on Tuesday, “Today I went off shore to take a look to see if I could find some tuna. Weather conditions were not the best. I found good clean blue water and nice temp breaks, but no life and no tuna.”
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey reported Sunday 8-14 “It is basically the same thing around here on the ling front with Captain Tinker Neece putting his clients onto 49 ling cod on Sunday. The school rockfish are starting to bite as the water has warmed up a few degrees, and we are getting limits of rockfish for those targeting them. Live squid is still productive for the larger rockfish and the lings, and the squid boats are working up the Santa Cruz coastline above Davenport. Halibut have been showing up on the beaches, and commercial fishermen have been picking up around 10 to 15 flatfish per day. A few stripers are showing up at Manressa Beach. We took out scientists into the closed zone near Twin Rocks on a research trip, and 9 anglers caught, tagged, and released a total of 1038 rockfish, and there were some huge vermilions and coppers in the mix.” With the annual Pebble Beach Con’Cours De Elegance this weekend, they have plenty of room throughout the week and the coming weekend.

Todd at Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey reported great ling cod action on Thursday 8-4 with the Check Mate returning with 17 limits of ling cod along with 3/4th limits of rockfish. Fresh squid remains the key for the high ling cod counts. The boats are filled through the next two weekends as well as Thursday, August 9th with room on Monday –Wednesday and Friday of next week.

 Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Monterey charter boats continue to post “cookie-cutter” reports. Fishing almost daily, the Check Mate and Caroline from Chris’ Fishing Trips are maximizing their lingcod counts, catching mostly limits of lings each day. Their secret? Live bait. Owner Chris Arcoleo knows it’s worth it to stop and get live bait each day, and his tactic is paying off in the form of multiple big lings for all his clients this year. Randy’s Sportfishing from Monterey also brought in 35 lingcod on their trips this week. More impressive was the four California halibut caught from the Sur Randy on Wednesday’s trip.
Halibut have been slow to show this year. As summer progresses, we’re starting to see a little more consistency in catches of the big flatfish from Monterey Bay. Moss Landing’s Kahuna Sportfishing even has a limited halibut trip planned for August 11. They will take a small load of only 15 anglers and fish specifically for flatties. This would be a good trip to get on, if you can.
Moving up the coast, Capitola Boat and Bait posted a few halibut reports this week of fish up to 24 pounds caught near the Mile Reef and by the SC3 buoy. Most Capitola reports featured good bags of brown and black rockfish and lingcod for the skiff renters and private boaters launching from the wharf.
Lighthouse Point and the West Cliff reefs are holding decent schools of rockfish as well. Private boaters fishing Wednesday and Thursday found a mix of browns, gophers, rosy, and china rockfish, as well as the occasional lingcod and cabezon. Be prepared with your fish I.D. charts, as we are also seeing an increase of canary rockfish, which are not legal to keep.
For bigger fish and more action-packed fishing, heading north towards Ano Nuevo is a smart move when conditions permit. Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters took the beautiful Miss Beth up to Franklin Point on Thursday for good success. Skipper Jim Rubin remarked, “The water was a little bumpy but very fishable. They caught a couple of nice lingcods and limits of big rock fish including blues, olives and blacks.”
We have some big market squid spawns off of Santa Cruz these days, as is evidenced by the numerous squid boats lighting up the nighttime sea horizons. Reports of squid have come in from Pajaro, Rio Del Mar and the Cement Ship area, as well as up the coast towards Davenport. Targeting the squid spawns can often result in catches of white sea bass, and we have received occasional reports of the big croakers in the past month or so. Once the commercial squid net boats reach their mandated quota we may very well have a good sea bass bite on the north side of the Monterey Bay. Cross your fingers.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

On Thursday 7-28
Troy at Chris’s Sport Fishing in Monterey reported continued excellent ling cod action with the Caroline posting 25 lings for 23 anglers using fresh dead squid along with limits of rockfish working the local reefs. The ling cod continue to bite while the rockfish are less interested in biting. They are filled on their rockfish trips this weekend, but starting Monday, there is plenty of room on board.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey Harbor seems to be concentrating on lingcod this year. “Yes we are,” owner Chris Arcaleo says, ”That’s why we take the time to stop and catch live bait every day.” The tactic has been working all season and this week was no different. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday saw limits of three lingcod for every angler aboard the Check Mate and Caroline. Thursday’s fishing was not quite as productive, with only 25 lings for the 23 anglers aboard the Caroline. Arcaleo also notes that halibut fishing is getting better in Monterey with “a whole bunch of boats” fishing for flatties off Del Monte Beach as of Thursday.
Launching out of Moss Landing Harbor, Kahuna Sportfishing is stacking up some impressive numbers as well. On
 Wednesday Carol Jones reported, “Great day today for anglers aboard the Kahuna. Limits of rockfish, which included over two around on the cabazon, and some of the biggest coppers I have seen. Near-limits of lingcod and a 31-pound halibut just to top off the day!
Fishing is pretty good around Santa Cruz as well.
 Capitola has been churning out halibut all week. The best approach seems to be jigging up live mackerel or jack smelt for bait. Both are working right now for big halibut. Using live squid works even better if you can find them. The next best thing is the fresh dead squid, often available at Bayside Marine. Santa Cruz Harbor resident George Isometsa fishes from his Zodiac skiff and did a long drift Monday from the Mile Buoy towards Steamer Lane. He was in 90 feet of water when his squid was snarfed by a big white sea bass. Isometsa estimates the weight at “around 30 pounds.” .
Continuing in the big fish from small boats theme, Aviv Ben-Dashan from The Kayak Connection used a live mackerel fishing near the SC3 Buoy off Capitola in his kayak last Friday. Ben-Dashan reports, “Well... never thought I would beat my personal best halibut today... guess I was wrong. Jigged up one jack mackerel, sent it down in 57 feet of water, (and) within 10 minutes my rod doubled over…. 36 pounds and 47 inches! Also according to a sailboat near us, there were two great whites that were swimming near us (within 30 feet). One eight foot and the other 12 foot. Kinda sketch, but I guess it’s part of the game.”
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reported a good number of halibut caught in 60-80 feet of water in Capitola, by the Mile Buoy and near Natural Bridges. Fraser also reports the beaches from New Brighton to Pajaro continue to provide good striper action for the surfcasters.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey  reported good rockfishing on Friday 7-1 with 21 limits of quality rockfish south near Sur along with 32 ling cod while the Caroline posted near limits of rockfish and 22 lings for 16 anglers. He said, “There was zero wind out there, but the cross swell from the west and the south created difficult conditions. The Check Mate was not able to fish at Twin Rocks due to the choppy conditions from the competing swells. The water temperature has dropped to 51 degrees, and the private boats are finding zero salmon. A few commercial boats are picking up a few, but this has been rare. Salmon season ends in this section of the coast on July 15th. They have some room on Sunday of the holiday weekend and plenty of room next week. The fresh squid has dried up, and they are jigging up sand dabs for the lings.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
It’s July. High season for sport fishing on the Monterey Bay. Winds, swells and other weather conditions have made thing a bit tough for boat-based anglers on the bay so far this year. The less-than-stellar boat-based fishing is balanced nicely by fantastic surfcasting action, with more stripers being caught up and down the coast than we have ever seen.
Capitola Boat and Bait reports multiple hookups of bigger stripers from the wharf, with the best chance for bass around sundown. Jig up small mackerel, and deploy on a Carolina rig or the “Dead Man” rig, with a leader attached via slider to the main line, and a pyramid weight to hold the main line on the bottom.
An increasing number of legal lingcod being caught by the skiffs working the local reefs outside of Capitola and up towards Pleasure Point. Halibut are also coming on the bite in Capitola in 50-70 feet of water, and by the Mile Buoy, according to Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine. Fraser also has good news on the king salmon front, “The salmon are still around in 220 feet of water near Pajaro and up by Natural Bridges. The wind has settled and the marine layer is staying around in the morning. The swell has dropped and the fishing is bound to improve!”
Monterey charter boats are providing reports of steady groundfish action in that area. The Check Mate from Chris’ Fishing Trips had a great day Wednesday, with limits of rockfish and a ling per rod for the 18 anglers aboard.
Bottom fishing near Santa Cruz remains steady as well. Go Fish Santa Cruz has Captain Jim Rubin as skipper aboard their boat Miss Beth. Vastly experienced on our local waters, Rubin’s Monday report was quite positive, with a great day of fishing despite less than ideal conditions. Go Fish Santa Cruz reported, “Our charter today was with the Lewinski Family. We fished locally in the beautiful Monterey Bay off Santa Cruz due to an ocean swell. We had limits of rockcod consisting of olives, blues, blacks and vermilion by 11:30. We had a few lingcod come unbuttoned right at the boat. They are out there and biting. Everyone had a blast and we’re ready to go out again.”
Santa Cruz Port District successfully launched our new dredge Twin Lakes on Thursday. Harbor crews will be pulling the old dredge Seabright out of the water on Thursday and the best-case scenario is the launch ramp will be reopened by Friday, July 1. The new dredge is about the same size as the old one, but being new and capable of higher engine RPM’s, should prove to be much more efficient in keeping the harbor channel clear during winter months. Further information, including plans for an “Official Christening” of the Twin Lakes is available on the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor website.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

On Thursday 6-16
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported good fishing with 15 limits of ling cod and limits of rockfish on the Check Mate. The fresh squid have disappeared, so they jigged up some live sand dabs for the lings. The weather has been rough, and they cancelled their trips on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Monterey Bay anglers enjoyed a few days of good weather and good fishing over the weekend. Conditions deteriorated during the week, however. Strong gusty winds combined with a powerful south swell called for small craft advisories up and down the coast for most of the week. Besides being uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, the swell tends to put fish off the bite. Anglers persevered, though and a few nice catches were recorded despite the poor conditions.
Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters had a great day Sunday. Captain Jim Rubin reported, “Today we fished and caught a variety of rock cod. The water was flat perfect.” Stagnaro’s Sport Fishing is sending their new boat Legacy up to the Ano Nuevo area on full day trips. Both Saturday and Sunday they did well, according to Skipper Chris Victorino. “On Saturday seven-hour trip we fished up the coast to Ano Nuevo Island, yielding 3/4 limits QUALITY rock fish and lingcod. On Sunday Legacy had 3/4 limits and lings for 25 fishing. We fished the New Years Island area. We had a mix of great quality browns, reds, coppers, and schoolie rockfish.”
In Monterey, Chris’ Fishing Trips is still going south around the Point Pinos corner and cashing in on lingcod. While counting only half-limits of rockfish for Thursday’s trip, anglers aboard the Check Mate caught full limits of lingcod (45) for their efforts. We have received few reports of halibut caught in the Monterey area, but Santa Cruz provided more than a few before the swell kicked in. Austin Sprague from Aptos hooked three and landed one off the West Cliff kelp last weekend, and Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine fielded reports of flatties caught near the Mile Buoy. One nice halibut was caught last Saturday by one of the rental skiffs fishing near the SC3 Buoy. When this south swell dies down again, we are sure to see the halibut numbers jump.
Salmon fishing remains consistent, if a bit slow. There seems to be a resident batch of fish in the bay, but they are moving around as well as staying deep. Catches were recorded near Moss Landing, Pajaro, the Soquel Hole and increasingly off Santa Cruz’ north coast from Natural Bridges to Four-Mile Beach. These are a medium grade of fish ranging from eight to 17 pounds.
Surfcasters are still doing well catching striped bass with a variety of lures. Surface poppers and HairRaisers seem to be the most productive, and the beaches south of Rio Del Mar the preferred destination. Any and all of our Monterey Bay beaches can hold barred surfperch at this time. They may be small fish, but they are a blast to catch as well as being reliable.

Keith Semler of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “We didn’t go out Wednesday with only a few people on the books, but we are heading out for the next four days with some room over the weekend for the first time in months. The Star of Monterey returned with 40 ling cod and limits of rockfish for 18 anglers on Thursday 5-26 while Tuesday’s trip on the Check Mate scored 17 limits of both lings and rockfish.” Fishing is good!

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
As always, weather is a prime factor in fishing success along the Monterey Bay. We’ve had some blustery winds starting early in the day, but anglers who get out early are getting fish in the box.
Fishing for king salmon takes top billing as usual. While not “on fire,” salmon fishing has at least been consistent across the bay, with fish scattered from Soldier’s Club near Monterey to the Davenport area north of Santa Cruz. Bayside Marine’s Todd Fraser notes salmon are following the bait saying, “Sardines and mackerel have moved into the shallow water. There are huge schools in 150 feet of water to the beach. There is a good chance of trolling up some salmon in the shallow water where the bait is.” Fraser also fielded an increasing number of reports this week of halibut caught near Lighthouse Point, the Mile Buoy and near the Pajaro Pipeline.
Rockfishing remains the best bet. Limits of rockfish are the rule for anglers fishing any of the reef areas along Monterey Bay. Capitola Boat and Bait reports full sacks of blacks, browns and gopher rockfish as well as lingcod from the nearby reefs. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing is getting their new boat Legacy into action these days.  Ken Stagnaro reports, “Legacy will be running trips to Ano Nuevo on weekends this summer. Sunday’s full day cod trip on Legacy returned with 25 ling cod and limits of excellent quality rockfish for 19 people.” Chris’s Sportfishing reported limits of rockfish for all their trips last week with up to 34 lings per day.  Randy’s posted similar reports of rockfish limits, with one ling per rod and a bonus halibut for the Sur Randy on Monday’s trip.
The Santa Cruz Harbor has important news this week. Our brand-new dredge will be arriving in a couple weeks.  Construction of the dredge will take place at the harbor launch ramp, which will be closed for a two-week period as a result. The harbor is offering a sweet deal for end-tie berthing to those anglers who will not be able to launch while construction is underway.
Port District officials announced, “Construction of the Port District's new dredge (to be named Twin Lakes) has been completed by DSC Dredge Company of Reserve, Louisiana.
 The Port District anticipates the arrival of its new dredge commencing on June 13, 2016. Staging and assembly of the new dredge will take place in the launch ramp area.  The launch ramp and adjoining parking areas will be closed for the duration of the build.
As a result of the launch ramp closure, the Port District will be offering a "Dredge Delivery" visitor berthing special to all trailerable vessels.  For only $150, berth your vessel on an end-tie for the duration of the launch ramp closure, which is currently expected to last 10 days.  If the closure is extended, your berthing is extended too for no additional cost! Launch fee and parking are included!” For additional information and berthing reservations, call
831-475-6161 or email

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

It's that time of year that this writer takes off to open our vacation home on the Kenai peninsula. We will be chasing kings & sockeye on the local rivers and will be jumping on board with Captain Steve Smith halibut and saltwater action. I will post some highlights on Face Book next week. We will be leaving the laptop at home and will return with full reports here on Sunday June 5th.
In the time being please contact our sponsors or visit their websites for current reports, information and bookings.
Until then... good fishing!
Mike Aughney

Keith Stemler of Chris’s Landing in Monterey said, “We had three separate pods of orcas out in the  bay on Thursday 5-12 and there were between 30 and 40 of the killer whales overall in addition to numerous humpback whales gorging on the abundant krill. The Check Mate went out with only 4 anglers on Thursday as six passengers decided not to call or show, and they were rewarded with limits of rockfish and ling cod. Wednesday’s trip on the Check Mate resulted in 14 limits of ling cod along with 1/4th limits of rockfish. They are filled through the weekend, but there is plenty of room next week.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Fishing is getting more consistent on Monterey Bay for most of our varied species. With luck, the uptick this week will continue.
Inshore water temps are still unusually cool, remaining in the mid-50’s. That is very low for this time of year. Typically, the water warms in spring to the high 50’s and even low 60’s, which encourages rockfish to feed and also brings halibut closer to the beach. Despite the cold water we are seeing better fishing for both these species.
Anglers trolling hoochies or squid in 60-80 feet of water are starting to hook up halibut. We received reports of big flatties caught from Capitola, in front of the Santa Cruz Harbor and even off the pocket beaches along the north coast this week. Drifting live or dead bait for halibut in those 60-70 foot depths over a sandy bottom would also be a recipe for success in the coming weeks. We would also expect to see the flatties moving into to increasingly shallow water as the next few weeks progress. There is plenty of bait available all around the bay, mostly Spanish mackerel and sardines. Both work very well for catching halibut, rockfish or lingcod.
Salmon fishing has picked up considerably this week. Sunday was a good day for most anglers that fished near the Soquel Hole and Moss Landing canyons. A good bite also developed just off Natural Bridges in 200 feet of water. The salmon are feeding on krill, sardines and the occasional anchovy. Further reports indicate salmon were caught between Four-Mile Beach and Davenport by anglers trolling deep. The fish were mostly near the bottom this week. Hopefully this big scattered school will stick around and continue to provide salmon actin for the anglers of Monterey Bay.
Surfcasters are still having a field day with the striped bass bite. Beaches all around the bay are producing good-sized stripers as well as the smaller schoolie bass. Central bay beaches remain the most consistent for stripers, but they can pop up anywhere. This week’s reports included good numbers caught in Sand City as well as from the Capitola Wharf area. Many anglers are fishing for stripers at night. Best bet seems to be timing the bass fishing for an incoming high tide. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine advises HairRaisers and KastMasters as the best lures for stripers, but topwater poppers, Krokodiles and the Daiwa SP Minnow are working to fool the big bass as well.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey said, “We cancelled on Thursday 4-28 due to the weather, but Captain Tinker on the Check Mate put his clients onto 16 limits of ling cod by 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, and they tried for rockfish after this will minimal success. The water is cold after the recent winds, but there is krill everywhere. The boats on the other side are picking up some salmon, and the fish are coming up higher in the water column from 150 feet down. They were as deep as 400 feet previously, and they will continue to move up with the northwest wind pushing in. Schools of thousands of striped bass are moving up and down the beaches, and most of these fish are undersized with the occasional bass to 20 inches or so. The schools have been coming by the wharf.” Chris’s is taking a salmon trip on Friday, and they are filled through the weekend on all trips, but there is plenty of room next week.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Once again, weather played the leading role in the story of Monterey Bay fishing this week. A large swell didn’t help things, but mostly it was the extreme winds that kept anglers at the dock and the fish hunkered down.
Prior to the weekend windstorm, salmon anglers found a few fish here and there, mostly in the deep canyon areas. The Soquel Hole produced averages of zero to five fish per boat, and a few boats caught fish near Pajaro and off of Moss Landing. In general, the salmon bite is slow. It is well worth a few trips though, to get a fish or two for the table or the smoker. Most salmon reported caught this year are wild fish, and this early in the season is the best time to get them. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced sport salmon fishing in our area will close on July 15 this year, due to low return counts and disappointing ocean salmon abundance reports.
Big waves tend to keep halibut scattered in deeper waters. We received no reports of halibut caught this week. High winds also have the effect of lowering water temperature, another negative factor for halibut fishing. With a few weeks of calmer waters and lower winds we can expect halibut to move in to shallower waters and begin to congregate in the near shore flat sandy areas. 
Rockfishng and lingcod are still on the bite however, and it will only get better from here on out for this staple fishery in Monterey Bay. Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey reported limits of rockfish and up to 30 lingcod per trip for multiple days on multiple boats last week. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine tracks the private boaters operating from the Santa Cruz harbor and says, “
. The rock fishing was good near Natural Bridges in 80-100 feet of water. There were some nice lingcod caught at South Rock.”
Surfcasters are still doing very well all around the bay for surfperch as well as striped bass. Most of the bass caught are “schoolie-sized,” measuring under 18 inches but we are seeing an increasing number of legal fish caught as the season progresses. The stripers might be found on any beach, with reports of fish caught from Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz, and Del Monte Beach in Monterey over the past few weeks. The best areas are more central beaches on Monterey Bay, from Rio Del Mar down to Sand City. Local angler
Ryse Jauregui sent in a photo of a legal striper he caught south of Rio Del Mar on his first surfcasting trip this year. “First day fishing for them. First one of the season. You got to get out there (they are) starting to get bigger. All I've been using is a pencil popper. I'm three for three right now,” Jauregui reports. Surface poppers, SP Minnow, Krokodile and KastMaster lures have all been successful for catching these stripers in the surf. GULP baits rigged for perch are hooking a few as well as the classic live sandcrab presentation.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Keith Semler at Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported their boats have been catching live bait before heading to the reefs, and they have been able to jig up a combination of live mackerel or sand dabs. The passengers have been focusing on the lings, and the Check Mate returned with 3/4th limits of rockfish in addition to 37 lings for 14 passengers on Thursday 4-21. Wednesday’s score was even more ling-centric with 37 lings and 1/3rd limits of rockfish for 20 anglers on the Check Mate. They are filled over the weekend, but the weather on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday may change some plans.

Monterey/Santa Cruz Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel 
The winds came down this week, which made for decent fishing conditions along the shores of the Monterey Bay. The ocean is still on the cool side, so we have yet to see halibut show up in any numbers.  But, fishing for rockcod and lings is good and getting better on local reefs and the more remote locations.
After a very slow start, king salmon season is starting to pick up.   Depending on the day, some anglers are catching their limits while others are still getting skunked. Veteran salmon anglers have been catching kings with some consistency.  Leroy Cross, fishing from his boat the Triple Cross reported 11 salmon caught for 12 hookups last week. Anglers on the Miss Beth from Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters enjoyed a fine day of king salmon fishing Sunday, bringing home seven beautiful salmon for four anglers aboard.
Todd Fraser from Bayside Marine was one of those lucky anglers and says, “We fished the Soquel Hole all day in flat calm water. The salmon were biting Blue Kajikis down deep all day long.”  Fraser also notes anglers found success during the week using UV Krippled Anchovies and Chartreuse FBRs . Straight bait and commercial-type spoons are also working on the salmon.  Early mornings may find these fish near the surface in the 50-75-foot range, but by late morning most are deep, down to 250 feet. The Pacific Fisheries Management Council announced last week that salmon season in our area will close after July 15 this year, so book your trip while you still can.
Inshore fishing is improving, though we have yet to see much in the way of halibut action.  It’s still early in the season.  Rising water temperatures and a break in the swell action will bring the big flatfish in.  There is plenty of bait on the inside.  Right now, humpback whales can be sighted feeding on big schools of mixed mackerel and sardines, both of which are halibut candy.
In Santa Cruz, South Rock, Natural Bridges and the reefs near Wilder’s Ranch have been consistently producing nice sacks of rockfish and lingcod. In the Monterey area, the bottomfish are still holding in the deeper water. The area of scattered reef outside Del Monte Beach in 70 feet of water was fairly productive for anglers using shrimp fly jigs and swimbaits on Wednesday.
Bigger boats that can make the trip south towards Big Sur are going to find more and bigger fish as well as a more consistent bite. The same conditions can be found north of Santa Cruz by Franklin Point, though reports from Davenport and the Scott’s Creek area indicate a scarcity of rockfish right now.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to


Keith Semler at Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported continued excellent rockfishing in the local reefs with the Check Mate coming in with 3/4th limits of rockfish along with 30 ling cod for 25 anglers on Sunday 4-17 along with the Star of Monterey posting 10 lings in addition to 32 limits. On Saturday, the Caroline returned with 22 limits of rockfish and 15 lings with the Star scoring a whopping 56 ling cod and 30 limits of rockfish. They are running rockfish trips throughout the week.

Moss Landing:
Private boater report by Howard L. of Morgan Hill
decided to try Sunday because a long time fishing friend was really busy with contract work last week and next week. We dropped 5 crab pots north of Moss Landing and proceeded north towards Soquel Hole. We stopped about 4-5 miles south in a large fleet and began trolling. Right around the high tide change over, we had several bites and got an 11 or 12# fish onboard. We had several serious hook ups during the morning, a leader broke off and some mangled anchovies that were trolled.
 We saw a few fish caught and boated near us but had no other strong hook ups. The weather was great for fishing. At one time Roger counted 104 boats in the fleet. We did see an occasional fish show up on sonar, however the one we boated did not show on sonar. Usually they were pretty deep. The radio chatter had several boaters fishing at 250 to 300 get very large fish biting. we were getting out of the water at 1300. The boat next to us at the dock was able to land 4 fish. Some reported as many as 6 fish.
Our fish was great on the BBQ tonight! “

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel 
Ocean fishing conditions in the past week have ranged from pure flat glass to grumbling chop with heavy winds. Towards the end of this week, another large northwest swell rolled in as well. Despite the uncertain conditions, fishing has been consistent across a variety of local species.
Top on the list of course, are king salmon.  Sport anglers are getting the bite dialed in now that we are two weeks into the season. It is still somewhat slow. The Soquel Hole area has been most productive across the week with anglers catching fish on both the east and west canyon edges.  Most boats boats are averaging 0-4 salmon with the occasional report of up to six fish. The Pajaro and Moss Landing canyon anglers are also hooking up in about the same ratio. Mulligan’s Hill and Soldier’s Club on the Monterey side of Moss Landing provided reports of salmon success a couple days last week.
Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine advises, “The fish are being caught shallow in the morning and around 150-220 feet down in the mid-morning. The bite has been the best early in the morning and slowing down in the afternoon.” Straight bait, hoochies behind a flasher or salmon spoons all have been successful this week in fooling the big kings.
We received no reports of halibut caught this week, but rockfish and lingcod are definitely on the bite.  This time of year, one need not travel very far to find good concentrations of bottomfish. In Santa Cruz, fishing the Mile Buoy area or South Rock reef almost guarantees a nice bag of fish for dinner. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing is spreading the joy while operating two big charter boats out of the Santa Cruz harbor.  Owner Ken Stagnaro says, “Cod fishing has been very solid. The full day trips have been getting their limits with quite a few lingcod. A half-day cod trips have been getting half limits to three-quarter limits on most trips. This summer our new boat the Legacy will be featuring weekly trips to Franklin Point.”
Chris Fishing Trips in Monterey posted limits of rockfish for all their trips this week with lingcod scores ranging from one to three per angler.  Randy’s Sportfishing has similar reports from their boat The Chubasco- limits of rockfish and up to 15 lings per trip.
Perch fishing from the beaches remains strong.  Incoming and high tides are the best to fish for the barred surfperch.  We are seeing a heartening number of small striped bass in the mix as well, with a few keeper stripers that measure over 18 inches. Unconfirmed reports indicate a few stripers of the bruiser variety were hooked and landed this week, in the 11-18-pound range. Pencil poppers, HairRaisers or swimbaits can attract the near shore striped bass, and they have been right up on the beach.. In the “exotics” category, Ed Burrell from Capitola Boat and Bait reported a barred sand bass caught from a Capitola reef this week.  Angler Brian Rodriguez used cut anchovy bait for this rare fish.  A common game fish below Point Conception, the barred sand bass is rarely seen in Monterey Bay.  Perhaps this is an indicator of more exotics on their way for summertime fishing? We can only hope so.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Monterey Bay Salmon Opener:

Opening day was slooooow for salmon anglers in Monterey bay. On Saturday 4-2 Tom on the Fish On reported that there were a 15 to maybe 20 fish caught in the whole of the Bay. Tom who is a salmon "grinder" said they never got a solid hookup. Fishing around Soquel Hole in the morning Tom said he heard  "three boats that had one, two that put out radio reports of two and  the rest were like us looking for that first fish that never came". Tom said that other than five or so fish taken at Soquel Hole in 240 feet a few other fish landed off Pajaro and Moss landing along the edge of the Canyon there were maybe 25salmon landed in total. Back in Santa Cruz harbor Tom said the DFW fish counter had just checked in 5 fish through 3:PM. Tom is going to move up to Half Moon Bay where he will be running salmon trips and then salmon rockfish combos beginning April 15th. 

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported a slowdown on crabbing with an average of 5/6 Dungeness per angler on Saturday 3-26. They will be crabbing until the end of the week, pulling the pots before the rockfish opener on Friday. The water temperature has dropped to 59 degrees, and with the northwest winds coming in, some darker water is showing up in the bay along with more krill. He said, “There are plenty of sardines along the beaches from Monterey on up in 15 to 20 fathoms of water, and small striped bass are bunched up in large schools along the beaches.” They are sold out for Friday’s rockfish opener along with both weekend days with the salmon opener on April 2nd.

I went out on Wednesday 3-16 with Captain Tinker Neece of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey, and he ran a great trip composed of the Wednesday regulars. After loading up with sand dabs taken from the depths at 340 feet, we pulled the pots for 20 limits of crab with the need to measure only a few of the Monterey:
Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Landing in Monterey reported a slowdown on crabbing with an average of 5/6 Dungeness per angler on Saturday 3-26. They will be crabbing until the end of the week, pulling the pots before the rockfish opener on Friday. The water temperature has dropped to 59 degrees, and with the northwest winds coming in, some darker water is showing up in the bay along with more krill. He said, “There are plenty of sardines along the beaches from Monterey on up in 15 to 20 fathoms of water, and small striped bass are bunched up in large schools along the beaches.” They are sold out for Friday’s rockfish opener along with both weekend days with the salmon opener on April 2nd. 200 Dungeness. The weather was absolutely spectacular, and it was an outstanding experience. Where else can you get off of the boat, have your crabs cooked, and have the choice of several restaurants within a few feet of the shop. Nowhere in California. They have room throughout the weekend, and they are already filled for the salmon opener on April 2nd. Rockfishing starts on April 1st, and owner Chris Arcoleo is contemplating keeping the crab pots in the water for combination trips. The limiting factor will be all of the boat traffic from the salmon boats.

Santa Cruz/ Monterey Report by Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Over 300 surfcasters, family and friends gathered last Saturday at Portuguese Hall for the 12th Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby.  This is the biggest tourney on the West Coast for the smallest saltwater gamefish.
Conditions were tough for the competitors this year, with rain, wind and heavy surf in most locations.  As expected, there were more than a few “skunks” in the mix.  But as usual, a good number of hefty perch were brought to the weigh-in station by the one p.m. deadline. For the second year in a row, the Grand Master trophy was captured by a barred surf perch. The Derby features parallel divisions for the classic BSP surfperch, and the sometimes larger “sea” perch such as black, striped and rubberlips.
Chris Tran from San Jose has attended all 12 of these yearly events.  This year was his turn to shine, as no one brought in a fish as big as his two-pound six-ounce BSP.  The fish measured 15 inches, and was caught from a popular southern Santa Cruz County beach.  Tran also reported a number of small striped bass caught in the area, and managed to bring in a legal striper himself.
Other top scores on the leaderboard were Richard Gilliam with a 13” BSP for first place in the Flyrod Division; Larry Grossi with a 14-inch perch winning Senior BSP Division; Trish McGrath with a 13 -inch striped perch in the Women’s Seaperch; Samara Cortazzo 13-inch black perch for Junior Seaperch, and her sister Camille Cortazzo placing first in the Junior BSP Division with a 14 7/16- inch barred surf perch.
Perch Fishing from the beach should continue to be productive all spring and into summer. It is always a great alternative for an easy fishing trip.  No boats, motors or expensive equipment needed.  Just hit the beach with a spinning rod and find your spot. Keep trying and you will catch them. 
As noted above, a good number of small striped bass were caught from various locations around the bay on Saturday.  Since then we’ve received reports of stripers from the shore at numerous locations, including Santa Cruz’s West Cliff area, and Monterey’s Del Monte Beach. Most stripers caught Saturday were on bait or artificials while perch fishing.  Since then, anglers specifically targeting these bigger fish report success with shrimp bait, SP Minnow jigs and Krokodile lures.
Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey went out on Tuesday and Wednesday 3-8 for a combined 32 limits of Dungeness crab along with bucketloads of sand dabs. They will be operating over the weekend, weather permitting.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
The latest information from California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife indicates salmon season will likely open as usual, on the first Saturday in April for all of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. In a bonus announcement, the DFW is opening fishing for the RCG Complex (rockfish, cabezon and greenling) on April 1 this year, giving us an extra month of rockcod and lingcod fishing compared to prior years.
Highlighting the fishing news for Monterey Bay this week, however, is Saturday’s 12th Annual Sandcrab Classic Perch Derby. Entries are closed for this year’s derby with nearly 350 anglers from California and beyond vying once again to bring in the biggest perch and take home the prestigious Sand Crab Master trophy.
This is a community event that supports efforts of the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project to protect and enhance native populations of anadromous salmonids in the greater Monterey Bay area. Multiple divisions include Seniors, Juniors, Women’s and Fly anglers, with trophies for all and recognition for barred surf perch as well as other varieties of surf and sea perch.
As we all know, the weather has been less than comfortable the past two weeks, with big rains, high winds and huge surf. All these conditions contribute to creating potential fishing spots for surfperch in Monterey Bay. The forecast on Saturday March 12 is for possible rain later in the day.  Forecasters are also predicting a powerful long-period swell from the west, in the eight-10-foot range.
Low tide is at 7am on Saturday and high tide is at 12:30pm.  The weigh-in deadline for the Derby is 1pm, so participants will fish an incoming tide all morning. Find your spot early, and pay attention to potential holes and areas that might hold perch later, during the higher tide.  With a long-period swell, particular attention need be paid to safety. Sneaker sets are common as well as unpredictable, and with these steep beaches, anglers can be overcome easily.  It pays to fish with a friend and exercise an abundance of caution, especially if fishing with the kids.
A few hardy souls braved nasty conditions this week in search of surfperch.  We received reports of big slab-sided barred surfperch caught from beaches on the south side of Moss Landing, as well as from the numerous State Park and municipal beaches that line the center portion of the Monterey Bay. One need not travel so far however.  There are great perch fishing spots right in Monterey, from the Commercial Wharf, the Coast Guard Pier and the rocky headlands circling towards Carmel.
In Santa Cruz we have the Cement Ship, Capitola Wharf and the Santa Cruz Wharf, all of which can and do produce good catches of surf and sea perch.  Ed Burrell at Capitola Boat and Bait reported anglers with hefty stringers of mixed perch this week.  The fish were caught using shrimp bits just behind the surfline, and included barred, calico, walleye and shiner surfperch.
Good luck to all at the Derby this weekend and remember to Have Safe and Be Fun.


Todd Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported the Check Mate returned with 17 limits of Dungeness crab and plenty of sand dabs on Sunday’s 3-6 trip. They have cancelled for Monday, and they will be running the combination trips weather permitting for the remainder of the week.

Santa Cruz:

It’s finally on the near horizon with the 12th Annual Sand Crab Classic Surf Perch Derby this coming Saturday out of Santa Cruz. The annual event is a fundraiser for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. The weigh in will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz on 216 Evergreen Street. The event is sold out, but meal only tickets will be available at the door for $10.00. 

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing Trips in Monterey reported continued outstanding Dungeness crab action with 20 limits of crab along with plenty of sand dabs on the Check Mate and 9 crab apiece to go with bucketloads of sand dabs on the Caroline on Sunday 2-21. Saturday was much of the same with a combined 40 limits of Dungeness crab on the Caroline and Check Mate. He said, “The ten crab limit has resulted with the potential for waste with one family taking home 40 crab and wondering what they are going to do with all of them.” They have room throughout the week and into next weekend on the crab/sand dab combination trips. The crab have been large, averaging 2 pounds apiece.

Chris Arcoleo of Chris’s Fishing trips in Monterey said, “Crabbing has been outstanding, and we are finding quality limits of Dungeness on every trip. The crab have a hard-shell, average around 2 pounds, and are loaded with meat. We have been finding an average of around 25 crab per pot, and our fishermen are picking up close to 50 sand dabs within an hour as a bonus to the crab.” They are filled Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but all next week and the weekend are open for sand dab/mackerel/crab trips.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Report from Allen Bushnell of the Santa Cruz Sentinel
We received great news for sport anglers this week from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Dungeness crab season is now open in our area.  Rock crab remains closed.
Continued testing show Dungeness crab coming up clean in our area. The
 determination has been made that Dungeness crab caught south of Point Reyes in Marin County “no longer poses a significant human health risk from high levels of domoic acid,” according to the Office of Environmental Health. Commercial crabbing remains closed until a larger area is available, in order to avoid concentrating commercial Dungeness harvesting in the restrained area.
Because there has been no sport or commercial crabbing this year, the catch rate this week was fairly phenomenal. Longtime local angler Leroy Cross slipped out and back to the Santa Cruz Harbor a couple times last week. Cross says,” There is an abundance of crab in the bay. We did a six-hour soak that easily provided limits for three and an overnight soak that provided enough crab for us to be selective in our limits.” Jack Teresi on the Nancee Leigh soaked his pots for three hours early this week and averaged 11 crab per pot.  Again, easy limits for the boat selecting larger male crab only. 180-270 feet of water is the preferred depth for crabbing near Santa Cruz, and we have received good reports from the Soquel Hole area north to the waters off Natural Bridges.
The Santa Cruz Harbor entrance is still shoaled, though a skinny channel is developing along the east jetty.  The channel is navigable for small craft at high tide, but Harbor officials do not recommend transiting the harbor mouth until such time as the central channel is fully opened. Boaters who do so are acting at their own risk.
In Monterey, the story is much the same. Private boat reports were not available, but Chris’ Fishing Trips, and Randy’s Sportfishing have ben running “Crab N’ Dab” trips all week. Chris Arcoleo has been posting carbon-copy fishing reports all week that state “Lot's of Sanddab & Limits (150) Dungeness Crab for 15 Anglers on the Check Mate. Lot's of Sanddab & Limits (100) Dungeness Crab for 10 Anglers on the Caroline.” Randy’s Sportfishing is enjoying the same amount of action, limits of crab and a many sanddabs as a client may want to keep.
The story is much the same further north.  Captain Jay Yokomizo on the New Huck Finn out of Emeryville has been setting his strings along the southern Marin County coast. On a one to two-day soak in 60-120 feet of water, Yokomizo reports “18-80 crab per pot.  40% are females that we do not keep. We easily select limits of big Dungies for all anglers aboard.”
The weather will improve for the weekend, but there is a significant swell in the marine forecast. Stay safe and double-check the DFW regulations on crabbing. 

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


Chris’s Fishing Trips out of Monterey had a great weekend with plenty of sand dabs along with 13 limits of Dungeness crab on the Check Mate on Sunday 2-14 while the Caroline put in 7 crab per person along with bucketloads of sand dabs. On Saturday 2-13, it was limits of crab all around with both the Check Mate and Caroline returning with a combined 23 limits of crab along with plenty of sand dabs. 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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