Sentinel/Herald Fish Report

by Allen Bushnell

Salmon season opened last Saturday, and boats immediately started searching likely spots around Monterey Bay to find the coveted fish. The most productive area since Saturday has been below Moss Landing from Mulligan’s Hill to the Soldier’s Club. In the weeks preceding this year’s opener, those “in the know” marked big bait balls in that area. Commercial boats were picking up hundreds of tons of anchovies. The bait remained in the area as did feeding king salmon.

As usual for early season salmon fishing, trollers caught lots more fish than the moochers. Chris’ Fishing Trips “mooches” or drifts bait for salmon on their charter boats. Chris’ averaged less than a fish per rod on each of their salmon trips this week. Mooching can be a deadly technique for fishing around big, concentrated bait balls. Right now the bait balls are distinct but small and scattered across a wide area. Boats that cover more territory get more bites, and more chances to reel in a fresh fat king salmon.

Successful salmon hunters are mostly working 160-220 feet of water over the flats between Moss Landing and Monterey. A few fish were caught as high as 25 feet in the water column, and some took the bait offered by trollers right in the mud, especially later in the day when the sun gets high. Generally speaking the bite is ranging from 70-180 feet down on the wire, with 140 feet being the magic number over the past couple days. Most fish are in the 10 to14-pound range with some shakers reported and a few jumbos caught weighing closer to 20 pounds.

Go Fish Santa Cruz reported limits for their customers on two trips aboard the Miss Beth since the opener. “Our charter today fished at Mulligans where the bite was hot. The customers caught five nice salmon. Sorry to say we lost four. They were caught using anchovies and purple haze hoochies,” Beth Thomas reported. Bayside Marine’s Todd Fraser chimed in with a general report saying, “There were a few salmon caught today in front of Santa Cruz in 120 feet of water. A few fish being caught on the edge of the Soquel Hole. One boat who fished Pajaro and had a bunch of shakers and one keeper.” Fraser recommends using Krippled Anchovies and red RSK’s. Tom Mack Spoons, Blue Kajikis, or Chrome Krippled Anchovies to entice the bite.

This weekend is forecast as stormy with another big swell. These conditions inhibit the near shore bite but when things settle down, expect to see some hot action on rockfish and halibut. Chris’ Fishing trips ran limit-style rockfish and lingcod trips last week, using live squid, which is the most killer bait. From Capitola anglers reported decent scores of rockfish, Dungeness crab, multiple halibut in the 15-30-pound range and a most unusual barracuda caught by Larry Roland off of Moss Landing.

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