Monterey Bay: Surf Pearch Report

Monterey Bay

Barred Surfperch, Barred Surfperch
Five-year-old Cal Olsen from Santa Cruz Demonstrated his “Pro-Moves” while pulling in this 12.5-inch barred surf perch from his local beach on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Photo: Matt Mitchell

by Allen Bushnell

We have a little surfcasting window between all the giant swells this week. Canny anglers took advantage to hit their local surf perch spots to fish and enjoy pleasant conditions. On Wednesday, five-year old Calvin Olsen from Santa Cruz was surfcasting with his dad on a beach near Santa Cruz. He hooked up a pretty good-sized bared surf perch and fought that fish like a pro. "Keeper?" Cal asked after he beached the perch. "Think so, big guy" his dad replied.

We received further reports of surfperch caught from the Rio Del Mar area as well as the broad beaches near Manresa. Glen Sales from Marina has been picking up the occasional big perch near Monterey for the past two weeks, even when the waves were at their largest. Sales loves to throw big lures, and is often rewarded with quality if not quantity. Last Friday he reported, “Landed one and missed two on the Joe Baggs six-inch Swarter.” When conditions are rough and currents are heavy, only the larger stronger perch can tough out the surfline conditions in their constant search for food. It’s not a bad idea to go bigger, either with the stick bait type lures, or perhaps use the GULP! six-inch worms rather than two-inch.

With rockfish season closed and the huge waves keeping many boats docked, deepwater reports are scarce right now. Chris Arcoleo from Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey still gets his boats out as often as possible. Arcoleo reported, “Weekdays are like a desert, there’s nobody around. We’re still getting enough clients to run trips on the weekends, though.” Last Saturday Chris’ ran two boats with only 10 anglers aboard each. Plenty of elbow room during these COVID times. The Caroline returned with 150 Sanddabs and 22 Dungeness crab, while the Check Mate hit the jackpot with 400 sanddabs and 37 Dungies. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing in Santa Cruz squeezed out of the rapidly closing Santa Cruz harbormouth on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Owner Ken Stagnaro reported, “1/16 about 300 sand dabs --1/17 about 300 sand dabs --1/18 200 dabs for 15 anglers on board Legacy. Yum!”

By Wednesday, Harbor officials had closed the Harbor entrance. A message was posted by the Santa Cruz Harbormaster’s Office that included, “Our area has experienced numerous large swell events in the last month and a half. Each swell event can deposit upwards of 23,000 cubic yards of sediment into the entrance, which is equivalent to filling an entire football field 10 feet high with sand. Despite the recent swell events, the dredge crew has been working diligently to address the influx of sand and maintain depth in the entrance. To stay ahead of the forecasted swell, the crew planned to extend their work schedule and dredge through this weekend, but plans were interrupted by an unforeseen equipment failure, which will require extensive repairs. The sandbar present across the harbor entrance is expected to worsen over the next week while repairs are being performed. Please be advised that the entrance is impassable. Mariners should not attempt to transit the entrance for their safety and the safety of their vessel. Please call the Santa Cruz Harbor office for the latest conditions at (831) 475-6161.”

While waves mid-week dropped to 2-4 feet, the weather forecast is calling for yet another big northwest swell to hit by Friday, peaking at 8-10 feet that night, and remaining at 6-8 feet as we move into next week. The Santa Cruz Harbor entrance will likely remain closed for the next two weeks.

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