Let's Go Fishing Report

Monterey Bay

Rockfish, Rockfish
Jordan and Randy Denham worked hard for their fish on Sunday. The father-son duo fished deep waters near Wilder’s Ranch for limits of rockfish.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jordan and Randy Denham

by Allen Bushnell

Salmon season may have ended, but Monterey Bay area anglers are not sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Rockfish season remains open until December 31, and the number of halibut biting in the bay is truly astonishing.

Private boater Joe Baxter hosted good friends Randy and Jordan Denham on a local bottom fishing trip last weekend. Conditions were anything but favorable, but the boys pressed on. In addition to some heavy winds and choppy seas, a big portion of nearshore waters in Monterey Bay is experiencing an algal bloom know as red tide. A massive proliferation of phytoplankton, red tide can result in toxins being released into the water as well as oxygen depletion as the tiny plant planktons die, then settle to the ocean floor and decompose.

Baxter recounts his somewhat difficult hunt from Sunday saying, “We tried local cod shallow water could not find anything! Made good bait at the wharf. Still tons of anchovies in that area. We released many short halis and lings and ended the day with limits of cod with one ling. We had to go out to the deep to salvage the day. We fished Wilders 280 feet in very rough weather. Don’t know where all the lings and blues went. South rock is barren.”

Since then, the red tide is clearing closer to Santa Cruz but local waters near Monterey are still socked in. Chris Arcoleo, patriarch at Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey exclaimed “It’s absolutely black down here. We may run some halibut trips while we’re waiting for the crab season to come along. This red tide has to clear first. For the halibut trips, we snag live squid for bait and run them on a three-way drop weight rig. We did it quite a bit the year before last and caught a lot of halibut.” Chris’ continues to run daily bottomfishing trips on the Check Mate and the Caroline. “When there’s good weather we’ll run long range down to Point Sur,” Arcoleo added. Chris’ posted full limits up to 240 fish, on each their trips last week.

On the north side of the bay, Go Fish Santa Cruz tried the Ano Nuevo area this weekend. On Wednesday owner Beth Norton reported, “We had a long range trip today. The clients caught BIG vermillion, coppers, canaries and Boccaccio. They had a blast!” Tom Dolan on the Mega Bite continues to find limits for his clients as well, despite less than ideal sea conditions. He reported. “The weather started out great in the morning and after catching our live bait we headed out to Jurassic Park. By the time we got there the wind picked up so had to come closer to shore. We fished all down the coast and nailed limits of blue, canary, brown and red pacific snapper and a halibut!”

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