Salmon bite remains steady on canyon edges

 Salmon bite remains steady on canyon edges
The salmon bite is not Red Hot but savvy anglers are averaging at least a fish per rod this week. Here’s Phil Duran displaying a 25-pounder caught while fishing with Go Fish Santa Cruz who brought home limits for all including crew, on Monday.

by Allen Bushnell

A long period south swell is sweeping the coast which, combined with afternoon winds forecast to reach gale force means anglers will have to pick their go-out days very carefully this week. NOAA is calling for northwest wind waves of seven to eight feet pushed by winds up to 30 knots. The south swell is only two to three feet high, but with a long period up to 20 seconds. The long period indicates a lot of power. On Saturday, the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor sent out an alert for boat owners to beware of an expected “strong” surge within the harbor, and advised all moorings be checked and strengthened.
The south swell didn’t seem to have a negative effect on halibut fishing near Santa Cruz on Sunday. Veteran kayak angler Alain Sartre reported in early Sunday morning while still on the water. Sartre caught first one, then two halibut for the day. A smattering of rockfish and a legal lingcod rounded out his catch for the morning. With the south swell rolling through it would be a good bet to fish for halibut a little deeper, in the 60-70 foot range. Last week, prior to the swell they were settling inside at 30-40 feet of water. Even a two-foot south swell can roil the bottom in 30 feet of water, especially a long-period, 20-second swell. Halibut like nice clear water and clean flat sandy areas for their ambush feeding.
The salmon bite is not what you’d call “hot,” but remains ongoing. Latest reports from private boaters indicate decent fishing in 200-240 feet of water on the canyon edges near Moss and Soquel. The fish are holding deep right now. A good number of boaters had success trolling below Moss Landing near Soldier’s Club and Mulligan’s hill, again 180-240 feet of water with most fish down deep. Chris’ Fishing Trips out of Monterey sent a few salmon trips out this week. They mooched up just shy of a fish per rod which means anglers aboard the Check Mate or Caroline have at lest a 50/50 chance of bringing home fresh-caught king salmon. Also, the indication of salmon schools in the southern portion of Monterey Bay is a positive sign they will stick around. There’s tons of anchovy bait in the bay and the fish travel north. 
JT Thomas from Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters has been switching between salmon and rockfish trips all week, according to the clients’ wishes. The rockfish trips all resulted in full limits of quality vermilion, browns and assorted rockies. His salmon trip on Thursday brought home six big king salmon for the anglers aboard the beautiful Miss Beth. Monday’s trip garnered full limits for all clients and two crew. All the fish were big, in the 25-pound range.
Surfcasters around the bay are still waiting and hoping for the appearance of striped bass. A few were reported caught over the past couple weeks, but there’s no pattern or concentration of stripers to speak of. We are probably looking at another “off year” for the big surf fish. Perch anglers however are doing very well these days. The average size of fish is going up and most beaches are hosting nice little pockets full of barred surf perch. A good number of walleyes are scattered here and there as well. The challenge this week for surfcasters is finding clean water in the surf zone. High winds and the south swell are piling kelp and seagrass detritus at water’s edge and making retrievals impossible in many spots. Clean beaches can be found with a little diligence. Good bets include the bigger broader beaches close to the center of the bay as well as the smaller pocket beaches near Santa Cruz. Capitola down to Rio Del Mar is just kelp soup right now.

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