Fishing Conditions Have Evened Out This Week

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

by Allen Bushnell

Fishing conditions evened out for us this week on the Monterey Bay. We continue to have some rain, wind and large ocean swells, but have enjoyed more clear weather periods this week compared to the last few. Surfcasters are beginning to find the big wintertime perch, especially from the broad beaches towards the center of the bay, though kelp and seagrass at some locations continue to be a nuisance. We cannot complain about rainstorms, however. In the long run, the more rain the better.

Rockfish season closes at the end of this month. Dungeness crab season will remain open. Charter operations around the bay will still run crab or crab combo trips, which include fishing for sand dabs or mackerel, both favorites for many a palate. Earlier this week, Chris’ Fishing Trips from Monterey posted daily limits of rockfish on all their trips and a few lingcod, plus up to six Dungeness Each for anglers aboard the Check Mate and the Caroline.

On the Santa Cruz side of the bay, the story was much the same. Saturday’s trip on the Mega Bite was quite a success. Skipper Tom Dolan reported, “Another awesome day in the bay. Headed out to the crab grounds for limits of crab then in closer for our lingcod and rockcod. Limits of rockcod and limits of crab made for a great day. Big crab feed tonight!” Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters did well fishing from the lovely Miss Beth. On Sunday Captain John Thomas reported, “We had limits again for everyone. Dungeness crab continue to be big and abundant. After pulling crab pots the charter boat took the clients to fish north of Santa Cruz where they caught limits of rock cod. They ran across a school of the orange and red stripped species of rock fish called a flag fish.”

Last week, The Miss Beth also pulled up a nice flag rockfish, which was misidentified in this column as a treefish. Luckily, we have fantastic community support for this fish report. One of our regular readers, Robert N. Lea graciously pointed out the mistake. Lea is a Ph.D. Marine Biologist, so the man’s got some bona fides. Here is Lea’s helpful information. “The fish in the photo (nice picture) is a Flag Rockfish, not a Treefish. I am writing now as I think the caption could cause some confusion to the average angler. A number of ichthyologists consider the Flag to be the most elegant of the rockfishes. It is stated as ‘A sub-species of rockfish’ which is also incorrect. There are over 50 rockfishes that occur with the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, all of which are recognized as valid (individual) species. Not all rockfishes are caught by sport fishers and several can be difficult to identify. There are four species that are banded: Flag Rockfish, Redbanded Rockfish, Tiger Rockfish, and Treefish. These four rockfishes show a strong genetic relationship. The Flag and Redbanded have alternating red and white bands while the Treefish has blackish and yellow bands. The Treefish was an extremely uncommon species off central California until the El Nino events of the 1980's onward. Divers now see it frequently in the kelp forests in Monterey Bay.” Thank you for the correction Dr. Lea.

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