Sentinel/Herald Fish Report

by Nor Cal Fish Reports

Anglers around the Monterey Bay are gearing up for the 2017 rockfish and salmon seasons, both scheduled to open April 1. The final shape of salmon regulations is yet to be determined, but for the opener, we are allowed two salmon per angler per day with a minimum size of 24 inches.

Rockfish/Cabezon/Greenling regulations are also adjusting for 2017. We will provide greater detail in next week’s column, but the primary changes will be a smaller sub-limit of black rockfish (3) and an increase in maximum depth for fishing the RCG Complex (300 feet of water). There will be plenty to fish for, and very soon.

Currently, most anglers’ focus is on surfcasting. Perch fishing is strong and getting stronger, as evidenced by the results of the March 11 Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby. Over 300 anglers competed for trophies and prizes during the annual benefit contest, which supports the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.

This year’s Grand Master winner is Jeremy Peck from Santa Cruz. Peck won the big trophy with a barred surfperch weighing three pounds, four ounces and measuring 16 inches even. This is the largest perch ever measured during 13 years of the Sand Crab Classic. Peck caught the big BSP on “the north side” using shrimp for bait. Other winners include Ken Lagudas, first prize in Men’s BSP with a three-pound fish and Ryan Shake who submitted a two-pound three-ounce redtail perch for first in the “Men’s Non-BSP” category.

The Women’s Division trophies were captured by Carolyn Larimer from Watsonville for her 12 ¼-inch barred surfperch caught near the Salinas Rivermouth on a bloodworm, and Kira Eccleston who weighed in a one-pound, nine-ounce sea perch she caught near Monterey using bloodworms.

Winning the “Most Exotic” trophy this year was Ron Martin from Capitola. Ron is an avid surfcaster and rod-builder and has attended every Perch Derby since 2004. He took home the gold on the merits of a 17-pound striped bass caught at Manresa using a 10-pound perch rig with a grub. “It took me 15 minutes to land that fish.” Martin was chasing the fish up and down the beach hoping the line didn’t snap.

High tides will rotate towards early mornings and sunset next week, which is perfect for surfcasting. As Ron Martin proves, be ready for a big one. Also, while waiting for rockfish and salmon to open, it may be worthwhile to fish for halibut right now. It’s still early, but Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reports a few flatties caught by boaters trolling from Capitola down towards Manresa. Schools of sardines are popping up in various locations around the bay, notably the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the Mile Reef outside Capitola. Live bait fishing for halibut could prove to be productive for anglers working 50-80 feet of water over the flat sandy areas.