Mother Nature Decided to Give Monterey Bay Anglers A Break This Week

Monterey Bay

One of a passel of perch caught by Tom Niccum on Wednesday from his local Monterey beach.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing Radio Show

by Allen Bushnell

Mother nature decided to give Monterey Bay anglers a break this week. Conditions were mostly benign, with low wind in the mornings, and a small to medium sized swell. Beach structure created by the incredible wave train of huge swells since December has created some significant structure along all the beaches of Monterey Bay. Now the huge swells have subsided, feeding perch are moving in. Surfcasters are doing better, reporting good stringers of 4-8 fish in the 12 to 15-inch range. We have to give a slight nod to the beaches of Monterey County, which seem to be producing just a bit better than those in Santa Cruz.

Craig Pappas from Santa Cruz took home a fine brace of barred surf perch from a local beach on Sunday. Pappas fished the dropping high tide from a steep beach near rip rap rocks and made the most of his window of opportunity. He reported, “Official big one was 14.5 inches, two pounds 3.5 ounces. Seven retained fish total weight was 11 pounds 8.25 ounces. I actually hooked 15 perch in all. I started keeping fish after my big one. I could only manage six more before the tide got lower and the fish moved. This was my biggest total perch catch ever. The smallest fish was one and a half pounds.” For many, surf perch are preferred table fare. The larger fish can be filleted, while smaller ones are best when cooked whole. The meat is very fine, tender and sweet. Gourmands recommend cooking the fish quickly over high heat. Overcooking will make the meat mushy.

Only one charter boat report this week, of course from Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey. Their decision to start targeting petrale sole last week has paid off, big time. Sunday’s trip on the Caroline netted six petrale sole along with 500 sanddabs and 42 Dungeness crab. But Wednesday was really the bonanza trip. The Checkmate retuned with 100 petrale sole, along with 540 sanddabs for the 14 anglers aboard.

Many boat-based anglers are waiting for rockfish season to open on April 1,2021. Salmon season opener is not set in stone as yet. California Department of Fish and Wildlife information on our 2021 salmon season opening is still somewhat murky. The best bet we can come up with by reading between multi-agency lines is mid-May at least. Commercial salmon season usually begins a month later than recreational fishing for the much desired king salmon off our coast. The most clear statement we were able to find from CDFW states, "Ocean salmon is closed as of November 9, 2020. The 2021 ocean salmon season dates will be available in April, 2021."

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