Anglers enjoying the salmon fight: ‘These fish are big and mean’

Monterey Bay

Santa Cruz surfcaster Craig Pappas with an odd catch fromearlier this week. Who can identify this surfperch?

by Allen Bushnell

Monterey Bay anglers continue to enjoy a steady salmon fishing season. There are ups and downs, of course. One day is hot, and one day is not. Still, most boats are averaging at least a fish per rod most days, and early limits are common when the bite is on. Bait is abundant. Commercial seiners are reaping tons of anchovies on a daily basis right now. Water temperatures remain cool, in the 50 to 55-degree range. Dominant northwest winds continue to provide a strong upwelling process, keeping the salmon cool and the waters nutrient-rich. Chris Arcoleo from Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey was particularly happy about last Thursday’s trip on the Check Mate. “We slayed them on Thursday,” he said. “Full limits for the boat, and these were big fish!” They put 20 fish in the box for the ten anglers aboard. Chris’ posted fish count report included the descriptive “PIGS.”

 In Santa Cruz, Beth Norton from Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters reported on Saturday’s trip. “We fished for salmon today. It started out slow. We got a call from someone who had found the fish. We made a move and started lighting them up. The clients ended up with seven king salmon. We turned loose ten silvers. The fish seem to be dropping down in the water column. This means they will hang out for a while,” Norton said. Another six-pack operation, Santa Cruz Coastal Fishing Charters had a similar report for Sunday’s fishing. Skipper Rodney Armstrong reported “Salmon fishing again today. There was no bait where we were yesterday so I went looking around. Big mistake. The fish were still in the same spot. Once we got back to the spot we instantly got a triple and landed two of the three. Then another triple and landed one. Ended up with 5 nice fish and had plenty of chances to have our limits. These fish are big and mean.”

Surfcasting is good and getting better on the Monterey Bay. There are plenty of sandcrabs to use as bait. Anchovies are abundant in bay as well, but remain mostly off-shore, away from the beaches. Stiff winds started early most days this week. Combined with a persistent south swell, conditions were tough at most surfcasting spots. Happily, the striped bass reports are improving. While most of the stripers reported caught this week are still undersized, the numbers are going up. A few surfcasters working the bigger beaches towards Moss Landing reported landing up to six striped bass in addition to pulling in perch for the frying pan. The big broad beaches by Moss Landing have produced a number of keeper bass as well, for those willing to make the long walk in those areas far from roads and parking lots. If you hit the right beach at the right time, smaller barred surf perch can be hooked on almost every cast.

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