Sanddabs, sole and Dungeness crab targeted early in ’22

Monterey Bay

Keegan Vasconcellos, Shane Baxter and Steve Vasoncellos did well last week pulling pots of jumbo Dungeness crab.

by Allen Bushnell
1-7-2022
Website

Ocean conditions on Monterey Bay cleared up just in time to allow boats a couple days of rockfishing as the year, and the season, expired for 2021. For the next few months the focus will be catching sanddabs or sole and of course, the delectable Dungeness crab.

Chris’ Fishing Trips from Monterey posted the usual rockfish limits for their last trips of the season. They got around the corner at Point Pinos for full bags of quality cod. The Check Mate’s final rockfish trip netted 200 fish for 20 anglers aboard as well as 31 Dungeness crab. Other trips from Chris’ on the Check Mate and Caroline also boasted full limits of rockfish, some Dungeness crab on the combo trips and a few ling cod as well.

On the north side of the bay, Go Fish Santa Cruz hosted a final 2021 trip aboard the beautiful Miss Beth on Tuesday. Skipper JT Thomas reported, “Today we had a Dungeness crab trip. Early crew limits of big yummy Dungeness crab.” Miss Beth uses commercial-grade crab pots and has found Dungie success in 200-220 feet of water, working the areas off West Cliff and just north of Santa Cruz. As the season progresses, we usually see the crab creep towards the canyon edges within the bay.

Private boaters are finding decent returns for their crabbing efforts. An overnight soak at least, is best for getting the most out of dropped pots, according to Joe Baxter from Santa Cruz. “Our short soaks showed mostly undersized crab. Leaving the traps to soak overnight, looks like the small ones came and went, then the big boys took over. So we did pretty good.”

Surfcasters took a beating during the storms last week, but are stoked for the winter surfcast season. Large waves and heavy currents recently moved tons of sand around, creating new structure, holes and troughs for feeding perch. It’s time to go exploring and scout out our favorite beaches again, to see what’s hot and what’s not. Right now, there is quite a bit of junk in the water especially around the river and creek mouths ringing the bay. Besides the usual ripped up kelp and seagrass these latest big storms brought a lot of flotsam down the rivers. Surfcasters need to watch out for floating branches, logs and lumber in the surfline. These are potential legreakers so take care.

Clean conditions were found toward the end of the week from the beaches in “town” at Santa Cruz. Fishing around the high tide is always best and the right spot can yield limits of barred surf perch some reaching the magical 15-inch mark. Pockets of feisty walleye perch also provided entertainment near the rocks at Santa Cruz Harbor as recently as New Year’s Day.



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