Monterey Bay Fishing Report

Monterey Bay

Barred Surfperch, Barred Surfperch
Scott Werner from Santa Cruz with his slab “gray-belly” barred surf perch he caught on Wednesday
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing

by Allen Bushnell

Monterey Bay anglers enjoyed mild conditions this week, conducive to surfcasting from the beaches as well as fishing offshore. The coming weekend forecast calls for relatively low winds over a fairly large northwest swell. Saturday waves are predicted to be 9-11 feet inside the bay, dropping to 7-9 feet on Sunday. The swell, along with a chance of rain could make pulling crab pots a bit dicey. Remember safety first, wear your PFD. The succession of northwest swells over the past few weeks has moved tons of sand down the coast. The Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor has continuous dredging operations keeping the harbor entrance clear for transiting boat traffic. On Tuesday, the entrance soundings showed a 20-foot deep channel at the harbor entrance with one high spot about 14 feet deep.

Chris Arcoleo from Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey reported in response to latest COVID restrictions that “We are open and running trips through the New Year. We must maintain six feet distancing and everyone must wear a mask.” Chris’ will be running Dungeness crab/rockfish combo trips through December 31, then transitioning to Dungeness/sand dab trips from January 1 through March 31. Arcoleo is confident they will resume rockfish trips on April 1, 2021. Hopefully king salmon season will open about that same time, but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has yet to announce a salmon season opener date.

Commercial Dungeness crab season is now legally open, but most if not all the commercial boats remain tied to the docks. Santa Cruz crabber Khevin Mellegers explained to us that the major wholesale crab buyer is offering too low a price per pound for the commercial crabbers in northern California and southern Oregon. In a show of unity, crab boats down the coast to Monterey are not fishing yet as negotiations continue. “It’s a low price for crab, and a high price for bait plus a potential low biomass of crab this year that is affecting the industry as a whole. We hope to get out there soon, especially the live crab sellers like we have in Santa Cruz.”

As expected, rockfishing is getting slower as we move into winter. Surfcasting for perch was strange this week. Perch were hard to find, but the ones caught here and there are big! Scott Werner from Santa Cruz pulled in a 16.5-inch slab from one of the beaches north of Moss Landing on Wednesday. Werner reported, “I didn’t get a chance to weigh t, but it had to be two or two and a half pounds!” Others have reported similar “single-o” catches from the beaches near Sand City, Pajaro and Manresa.

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