Monterey Bay Fishing Report

Monterey Bay

Santa Cruz surfcaster Johnny Poff is happy to see more big barred surf perch this week.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing

by Allen Bushnell

A significant northwest swell combined with a couple very windy days made fishing more difficult  this week on the Monterey Bay. Happily, the Dungeness crab counts remain high for most crabbers, and the winter-style swell is getting our beaches into great shape for surfcasting.

Most charter operations around the bay posted limits of rockfish for their tris this week.  Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey ran crab combo charters and recorded limits of cod up to 190 fish while pulling half-limits of Dungeness on most trips. In Santa Cruz, the crabbing was more consistent. Go Fish Santa Cruz counted full limits of crab and rockfish for their trips on Monday and Tuesday this week. Owner Beth Norton reported, ” Clients had limits of Dungeness crab before heading up the coast to fish. The water was rough, the wind was up and the fish were not biting. Captain Greg headed back down the hill where they caught some nice rock cod.” Captain Tom Dolan on the Mega Bite out of Santa Cruz had this to report on Wednesday, “Storm has passed but the water was still a wee bit choppy. Took our time and after reaching the crab grounds got our limits then moved in closer to shore for rockfish. We did good with 3/4 limits of olive, blue, canary, brown and red pacific snapper.” Stagnaro’s Sportfishing reported 19 limits of rockfish for their full-day trip on the Velocity on Saturday.

Surfcasting for perch is improving on all the beaches around the bay. Last week’s swell has created better feeding habitat and opportunities for the surfperch. We’re starting to see the big ones coming in to feast. Surfcasters reported catches of multiple perch from the West Cliff beaches on down to La Selva Beach and Zmudowski State Park this week. Many of the surfperch caught and released are of the dinky variety, but reports are increasing of 12-14-inch fish caught using GULP sandworms or live sandcrabs. 

As usual at the start of Dungeness crab season, we are hearing a number of complaints about poaching and stolen crab traps. The sad truth is there are some lazy and unethical knuckleheads out there that will try and raid your crab pots if they think they can get away with it. The chance of having pots stolen is much less likely. Many anglers cannot locate their crab pots after a one or two day soak. Stagnaro’s deckhand BJ Sack advises, “‪Pots walk if they have too much buoyancy in the floats. You also need a 30% scope minimum on your line. In huge current, the buoys will dive under water. Buoys also get pulled under if debris like bull kelp pile up on them. Sometimes they get propped and are cut before the operators even know.” With pots, line and buoys costing up to $200 per setup, it pays to mark your set spot well. Using your GPS chart plotter is a no-brainer. Also make sure you have enough line for the depth you’re fishing and be aware of prevailing currents and swells while your traps are soaking.

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