Let's Go Fishing Report

Monterey Bay

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing Radio Show

by Allen Bushnell

Last week, we saw each of the Monterey Bay harbors close their public boat launch ramps due to the Covid-19 shelter-in-place guidelines. The prescribed social distancing space of six feet between all persons also forced charter operations to postpone any fishing trips until SIP orders are lifted or amended. Rockfish season was due to open on Wednesday April 1, and the annual king salmon season opener was scheduled for Saturday April 4.

The Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling (RCG) season opened Wednesday as scheduled. Unfortunately, Tuesday’s regularly scheduled “salmon” meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife had a result that, in retrospect probably should not have been unanticipated. Salmon season will not open April 1.

The DFW official statement had this to say, “California’s recreational ocean salmon fishery will be delayed statewide through the month of April, despite plans made earlier this year for the fishery to open in some locations as early as this Saturday, April 4.

The delay is the result of an in-season action taken Tuesday by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), on advice from the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) salmon industry advisors and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The April delay is a response to physical distancing requirements and widespread closures of launch ramp facilities, charter boat operations and restrictions to harbor and marina access due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaying the opener of the fishery will reduce impacts to stocks of concern and provide more fishing opportunity later in the summer months than would otherwise be possible… CDFW reminds Californians that everyone has the responsibility to flatten the COVID-19 curve by maintaining physical distance from other people of 6 feet or more when recreating in the outdoors, and staying home if they are sick.”

As it stands at the time of this writing (Wednesday April 1), recreational anglers whose vessel has a slip in one of our harbors may continue to go out sport fishing for rockfish and halibut while adhering to the social distancing guidelines. Surfcasting is also a valid option, as is kayak fishing. Hand launch areas remain accessible at the harbors and of course, from open beaches. But, do not be surprised if the CDFW decides to make an in-season closure for the RCG complex as well, using the same reasoning as was utilized for the salmon season decisions.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but viewed from a broader perspective this postponement makes sense and can be worthwhile. An excess of caution is appropriate while facing a potentially deadly pandemic situation. As John Thomas from Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters talked of keeping his boat tied to the dock this month he added, “We just want everyone to be safe, stay healthy and get through this thing together. Then we’ll go out for the fishing and the fun.”

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