Sentinel/Herald Fish Report

by Allen Bushnell

Some think that summer is over and so is the fishing. But, some of our best days on the water in Monterey Bay are still ahead. September and October often feature the finest fishing of the year. Our regular species are still going strong in Monterey Bay and slightly warmer water temperatures have resulted in a number of more exotic fish in recent reports.

Dedicated spear fisherman Jim Russell has bagged a number of triggerfish this year while diving near Monterey. Finescale triggerfish technically can range from Chile in South America to Alaska, but are very rare north of Baja Mexico. La Jolla and Catalina Island have consistent catches of triggerfish, but to see them in Monterey Bay is rare indeed. As a species, they are usually found in much warmer water, like their Hawaiian cousin, the colorful humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Russell also took a few sandbass last week. Also last week at least one calico bass was caught near the Cement Ship. We’ve seen an occasional calico near Monterey, but they are very rarely pulled from the northern portion of Monterey Bay.

Another warm-water visitor to our area are the crazy-looking sheepshead. Also known as Sheepie, goat, billygoats (large fish), red fish, snaggle tooth, humpy, and fathead, the male sheepshead is extremely colorful. Like the triggerfish, sheepshead are considered a rare catch north of Point Conception, but we’ve seen a few caught in our area over the years. None have been more impressive than the 21-pound male sheepshead caught recently by Albert Jauregui while fishing aboard Moss Landing’s Kahuna, on one of their “long-range/down-coast” forays to the Big Sur area.

Local Santa Cruz angler Stephen Wuerthner caught an exotic of sorts on Wednesday this week. While casting for stripers in the Rio Del Mar area, Wuerthner pulled in a hefty bat ray. Rays are sometimes snagged in the wing by anglers using treble hooks on their striper lures. A foul hooked ray puts up a tremendous fight. Wuerthner had his hands until he finally beached the ray, which was released unharmed after the rude interruption to his day. Wuerthner and his fishing companions were also entertained by a couple adolescent great white sharks splashing on the surface while chasing and feeding on striped bass and jack smelt just behind the shorebreak.

We can expect the pleasant conditions and good fishing for the next few weeks, at least. Rockfish and lingcod are still on the bite with limits being the norm for Monterey and Santa Cruz boats. Halibut fishing has not slowed down a whit. Bounce-ball trollers and bait drifters continue to report steady catches of halibut in the six to 30-pound range. Ed Burrell from Capitola Boat and Bait reports many smaller halibut caught near the Capitola kelp beds, and even a few keepers caught by pier anglers on the wharf. None matched the 33-pound fish caught by Jim Salvino who boated his limit of three halibut while trolling on Sunday.

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