Sentinel/Herald Fish Report


by Nor Cal Fish Reports
12-1-2017

December is being ushered in with the first bona-fide northwest swell of the year. Expect the waves in Monterey Bay to remain at six to eight feet with a 15-second interval for the entire weekend. The swell is predicted to drop as we move into next week.a In the meantime, exercise caution while transiting harbor mouths or fishing from the beach or the rocks.

December 1 also marks the yearly opening of steelhead fishinig season n our re. For many angler, local steelhead trout are the most prized species to pursue, and are treated with respect bordering o reverence. Steelhead are not easy to locate or hook up once found. When winter rains increase the flow in our creeks and streams, these anadromous fish will return to their natal area for spawning. Unlike salmon, steelhead trout can return to ocean waters after spawning and repeat the cycle a number of times in their lifetime.

Regulations are quite strict for this species. In our area, anglers are allowed to retain two hatchery steelhead per day, with a maximum of four steelhead in “possession” at any given time. Fishing with bait is allowed, but all hooks must be barbless. From Big Sur to the small creeks North of Santa Cruz, steelhead fishing is further restricted to Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, legal holidays, and the season opening and closing days. The Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations admonish, “Unless otherwise provided, all other trout and steelhead must be immediately released unharmed. Wild trout or steelhead are those not showing a healed adipose fin clip (adipose fin is present).”

Best practice for safe fish release is to leave the fish in the water while removing the barbless hook. If the hook has been swallowed, cut the leader as close to the hook as possible before releasing. If handling fish at all, be sure to wet your hands to help prevent loss of the steelhead’s slime coating, which helps to prevent infection of the fish skin.

The DFW also reminds us that Coho (silver) salmon “MAY NOT BE TAKEN IN ANY OF THE WATERS OF THE STATE.” There is a small spawning population of silver salmon in a few of the creeks and streams of our area. Silver salmon are most likely to appear towards the beginning of steelhead season, which ends March 7, 2018.