Monterey Bay Fishing Report

Most steelhead anglers feel lucky to catch one fish on the San Lorenzo River. On Sunday, Shane Baxter caught and safely released three of the beautiful ocean-going trout.

by Allen Bushnell

Monterey Bay has become a regular stop for the Pineapple Express lately. This weather phenomenon is described as an atmospheric river flowing from tropical mid-Pacific waters directly to the coast of California, picking up tons of moisture along the way. When this gigantic moving air mass hits the cooler landmass of our coast, moisture condenses to fall as rain or snow. This is good. We need the water in lakes or streams and especially to recharge the underground aquafers.
Another storm in this sequence rolled in earlier this week. Rainfall totals were sufficient early Wednesday morning to send the river flow numbers rocketing. Tuesday night, the San Lorenzo was holding steady at 350 cubic feet per second. By Wednesday 8 a.m. the flow had increased to nearly 5000 cfs! Needless to say, this high water is also muddy, so the San Lorenzo and other coastal streams were unfishable on Wednesday.
Getting possible “last licks” in for the season, Santa Cruz teenager Shane Baxter took his father Joe down the steep gorge area of the San Lorenzo Valley last weekend. Water flows were somewhat high, but conditions included a clarity of two to four feet. Perfect steelhead water. And, the sustained high flows over the past few weeks meant the river had lots of fish. Shane caught and released three fish on Sunday, a rarity even for lifelong anglers on the San Lorenzo River.
Waters may clear by this coming weekend. We are allowed to fish the rivers and coastal streams for steelhead on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays only. Fishing days include opening and closing day plus any Federal holidays during the season. Steelhead season ends in our area on March 7. So, that means this coming Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday are the final legal steelhead fishing days. The question remains, will the conditions permit? Any further rain will keep the streams swollen and murky. The upside is that more fish can enter the streams and creeks, and they will find enough water to make it quickly upstream and create successful spawning beds this year.
Ocean conditions were nasty midweek. Surfcasters did very well last weekend, with plenty of perch caught and released, or brought home for dinner. Forrest Murray from Santa Cruz reported at least one striped bass caught for the beaches near Aptos. He was using an SP Minnow just for fun, and was surprised to hook up the legal fish on his first cast. More striper reports are coming in from the Monterey area, both from beaches in town and further up the coast towards the Salinas River. Most fish reported are in the 17-25-inch range.

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