Monterey Bay Fishing Report

Monterey Bay

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing

by Allen Bushnell

Ahh, wintertime in Northern California. A significant percentage of our wintertime fish reports seem to be about warning anglers and beachgoers regarding the dangers of the ocean. Especially during the winter season. Even old salty types can be caught unawares by the fickle sea. Its power is overwhelming, and the best defense is to never let yourself get into a situation that may turn compromising for your safety. It really is a matter of life and death, especially during the winter. This is the storm season, with big waves, heavy currents and high winds that churn the ocean surface.

Our condolences go out to the families that lost loved ones in two separate incidents last weekend from beaches in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The saddest part of these tragic situations is that they are 100% avoidable. Experienced anglers and other beachgoers have learned to keep track of official weather forecasts, and realize how they translate into actual conditions on the open ocean, the surfline, and the beaches or cliffside areas of Northern California. There are many weather forecasts available online, the lodestone of which is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service Marine Forecast. Another good resource is the Coastal Data Information Program website from the University of California San Diego. Both outfits have monitoring buoys on Monterey Bay that provide instant accurate information in real time, as well as forecast options. For convenience, we include the web addreses below:  and

On Wednesday, NOAA issued a SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY for the latter part of this week. The advisory should continue through the weekend. They predict another long-period swell to move in on Friday. Waves are forecast in the 14-16 foot category. This is huge! Coupled with a wave period of 14 to 17 seconds, the result is what is termed “squared seas,” a very dangerous condition featuring steep waves even in deep water areas. Northwest winds may gust up to 25 knots over the weekend, further increasing the dangerous conditions.

Winter is often a good time to hole up and lick your wounds. What we mean is, it’s an opportunity to get your yearly maintenance accomplished, to repair the usage damage on equipment and gear. In the spring, summer and fall anglers can fish nearly every day. Inevitably, our equipment takes a beating. Most anglers would rather be out fishing than working on their gear so rods, reels and tackle usually get thrown on the shelf for later attention. Right now is later. Time to clean and lube all your reels. Replace line and drag washers where necessary. Rinse off all those lures, and change out the hooks and split rings that are getting rusty. This preventative type maintenance will pay off for you the next time you have a giant fish on that line, using that reel with those hooks and rings.

Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send any reports, pictures or questions to [email protected]

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