Halibut fishing tops list for Monterey Bay anglers

Monterey Bay

Captain Kris Victorino Moss Landing's Kahuna long range last week to the deep reefs past Point Sur. Anglers aboard were rewarded with quick limits of vermilion rockfish averaging six to eight pounds each.

by Allen Bushnell

Launching from Moss Landing, Kahuna Sportfishing targets the Big Sur area as much as possible. “That’s where we head, unless the weather totally prevents us,” owner Carol Jones told us last week. This Saturday, Kahuna left the dock at 5 a.m. for a “long-range” Big Sur sojourn. With Captain Kris Victorino at the helm, they beelined down the coast well past Point Sur. “We stopped just short of Point Lopez, and had wide open limit-style fishing on seven to 10 pound vermilion. It was sorta’ like One Stop Shopping!” Victorino chortled. “It took us only two stops and we had all of the 'verms our bag sub-limits allow, as well as about two thirds of the rest of what we needed.”  Victorino then treated the clients aboard to some shallow water action around Pt. Lopez, and ended up finishing in the deeper water off of Point Lopez. Everyone caught their sub-limit of five vermilion and the remaining portion of our limits were made up of coppers, yellows, olives and a few blues. We got a total of eight lingcod to 15 pounds, and even one bonus cabezon,” Victorino recounted. The Kahuna will continue fishing the Big sur area through the fall season, and has a few long-range trips planned as well.

Monterey action includes rockfishing, halibut and market squid. Chris Arcoleo at Chris’ Fishing Trips says the squid are still spawning like crazy near Cannery Row. Small boats and kayak anglers are loading up on squid for calamari, or quick freezing it for future bait. There’s got to be some white sea bass in the area, though Arcoleoeo says he only heard of one sea bass caught lately.

Meanwhile, halibut are munching live bait and frozen, and hitting trolled hoochies or swimbaits just up the coast towards Soldier’s Club and the Fort Ord area. There are still a lot of short juveniles in the mix. Handle these halibut carefully. Halibut are easily injured when netted or flopped on deck. If the flatty is of questionable size, the best practice is to effect an “in the water release.” Plastic mesh nets are also recommended to avoid splitting the tailfins of halibut prior to release. These fin splits often get infected, causing a mortality rate of up to 40% for released California halibut. Damaging the ‘slime layer’ covering on California halibut can also lead to infection and mortality. Happily not all the fish are dinks. There’s plenty of legal-sized flatties biting right now.  There are quite a few jumbos as well, in the 15-30 pound range. If the halibut is obviously longer than the 22-inch minimum size, I say gaff it quick! Keep the protective net for handling questionable fish if you need to.

Halibut fishing tops the list in Santa Cruz as well. The hot stretch this week is from the Pajaro Pipeline up to Capitola, though the big flatties are biting pretty much everywhere on flat sandy areas. We are also seeing an increase of halibut coming in from the North Coast spots, a regular fall season occurrence. Anglers find success drifting bait or trolling 60-70 feet of water just outside the bull-kelp beds from Scotts Creek down to the West Side area of Santa Cruz.

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