Sand dabs on the menu; weather ‘iffy’ for weekend boaters

Monterey Bay

Kayak angler Jimmy Chung from Santa Clara trolled a herring for this 30-inch halibut in Santa Cruz on Tuesday.

by Allen Bushnell

The National Weather Service forecast for this weekend looks somewhat "iffy" for boaters. The NWS predicts it to be windy with a medium sized ground swell and nasty wind waves on top. Early morning and possibly evenings should feature calmer local conditions suitable for surfcasting or inshore fishing. The NWS includes in their forecast, "Locally lower winds and seas across sheltered portions of the bay." While we wait for rockfish season to open in a couple weeks, there remain a number of species to target in the Monterey Bay.

Considered by many to be a gourmet item, sand dabs are numerous and easy to catch from deeper waters of 180-200 feet. Some fishing charter operations have been doing well with petrale sole lately. The sole are typically found just a little bit deeper, in the 300-foot range on similar flat sand areas. Though early in the year, a few halibut have already been reported caught. We would not be surprised to see the halibut count rise steeply once more boats get out during the upcoming rockfish season.

Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz reports “There were a few halibut caught the last few days near the Mile Buoy and in Capitola. The halibut are being caught on herring and squid in 70-90 feet of water. The surf perch fishing was good near Rio del Mar.” Tina Williams, at Capitola Boat and Bait reported a 25-inch flatty caught by a skiff angler and added, “We’re renting skiffs and folks can make reservations now for opening week. We’re going to book up quickly, especially on weekends. Right now the pier anglers are picking off perch, mostly barred. We’ve had one legal halibut come in this week. The rockfish are biting, but have to be released.”

In Monterey, Chris’ Fishing trips continues to load up on sand dabs, Dungeness crab and the occasional petrale sole. Chris’ weekend numbers included up to 665 ‘dabs for 19 anglers on the Caroline, along with 65 crab for the boat. Owner Chris Arcoleo reports, “Really looking forward to the start of rockfish season on April first and salmon on the third. The good news is we have plenty of bait in the bay right now. Those little squid are now grown up into big squid and the anchovies have arrived. They showed up off of Cypress Point and then moved into the bay. Tons of them.”

Fish of the week honors go to kayak fisherman Jimmy Chung from Santa Clara for his 30-inch halibut caught near the Mile Buoy in Santa Cruz. Chung remarked, “Heard that a few butts are caught in 70~90 feet of water near a mile buoy. I tried trolling with herring that I caught early this year. There were several unexpected stuck during trolling. I guess some of them are because of abandon net or something. And then... something stuck again around 70 feet. I thought that it was not a fish since it didn't pull down until I roll it up about halfway. Boom! It was Hali. I think I should practice gaff more.”

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