Salmon action slow, but there’s plenty other species in Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

Ed Burrell from Capitola Boat and Bait has plenty of time for fishing these days. Here, he hoists a recent haul.

by Allen Bushnell

Looks like the salmon bite has moved north for now. Monterey Bay anglers all have their fingers crossed in hopes another school or two will move in on their spawning journey to the Sacramento river system. A few scattered kings were caught this week by anglers trolling on the bottom in 220-280 feet of water, usually on the edges of the big submarine canyons. Some strays, including silvers were caught in water as shallow as 50 feet this week. So, for Monterey Bay the salmon fishing is not quite dead, but certainly is dead slow.

Luckily, we have plenty of other species to pursue in the bay. High on anyone’s list has to be halibut. The big flatfish are here in force. This is the time of year where we commonly see bigger fish. A number of fish in the 30-35-pound range were caught this week by private boaters. Nearly any flat sandy area in 30-70 feet of water can be holding halibut. Sandy areas close to reefs or scattered rocks can be most productive. Lately, the most productive areas continue to be between Capitola and Pajaro Beach. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine reported on Friday saying, “I fished yesterday for halibut in the afternoon and caught six fish drifting squid. The wind and swells have been calm.” Late summer and early fall halibut fishing really picks up just outside the confines of the bay especially off West Cliff Drive and the north coast above Santa Cruz. Trolling or drifting live bait just outside the bull kelp forests from Wilder’s Beach to Davenport in 60-80 feet of water is a classic late-summer halibut success strategy for local anglers.

Bottom fishing is still the mainstay for Monterey Bay. This year has been particularly good in terms of numbers and quality of fish within the bay. Going slightly outside the bay means bigger fish and quicker limits as anglers reach areas see less boating traffic and fishing impact. Kris Victorino, skipper aboard Moss Landing’s Kahuna tells us, “We’re always steaming out past Monterey and turning left. The rockfishing is always good in that area towards Carmel, and if the weather permits we head down to Big sur for the big fish.” The Kahuna reported a wide variety of quality rockfish caught this week. Sundays fish count for 16 anglers included 22 canary rockfish, 42 coppers, seven Lingcod (up to 12 pounds), nine Petrale sole, 25 vermilion rockfish and 63 ‘other’ rockfish. Chris’ Fishing Trips from Monterey Fish counts are quite predictable. Basically, take the number of anglers on board any of Chris’ Fishing Trip boats and multiply it by 10 to get the fish count for the day. They are blessed to home port in an area that is literally teeming with rockfish. The hard rock reefs from Point Pinos near Pacific Grove, basically the bottom corner of Monterey Bay to Pescadore Point at Carmel Bay is entirely composed of prime rockfish habitat.

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