Salmon action heats up in Half Moon Bay, Pacifica

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

Salmon action heats up in Half Moon Bay, Pacifica
Nick Castillo and Steve Woerner went up the coast from Santa Cruz with Captain Joe Baxter this weekend. They returned with full limits of lingcod and halibut.

by Allen Bushnell

 The saltwater is settling down nicely after a week of long period south swell that had things roiled up. Monterey Bay continues to enjoy productive summertime fishing. Salmon are still in the mix though getting a bit spotty, while rockfish, lingcod and halibut fishing is getting better and better.
Half Moon Bay and Pacifica enjoyed a furious, close-in salmon bite over the past week.  These are fish staging for their entrance to San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento Delta/River systems for spawning. Those fish may circle north toward the Marin Headlands before heading to the freshwater.  In the meantime, the big schools are still getting pushed by new arrivals from Monterey Bay. There’s been a steady stream of salmon schools breezing through the bay, feeding on super abundant anchovy schools as they head northward. Anglers from Monterey had a few days of limit-style fishing from the 200-250 foot spots near Soldier’s Club and Mulligan’s Hill. The Moss Landing fleet is finding fish to the south, straight out front of the harbor and north towards Pajaro and Soquel. Santa Cruz salmon hunters had luck on the east side of the Soquel Hole and down towards Pajaro and Moss this week. Most salmon netted in Monterey Bay this week  were caught by trolling deep, near the bottom. The quality of salmon is high with many in the 20-30 pound range reported lately.
JT Thomas from Go Fish Santa Cruz has been switching back and forth between rockfish and salmon trips, according to the wishes of his clients. 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. They found success trolling near the bottom in 240 feet of water, near Pajaro and towards Moss Landing.
Rockfish are numerous throughout the bay. The shell beds off DelMonte Beach in Monterey are producing well for bottom fish and schoolie blues, blacks and yellows. For bigger fish and quicker limits, boats are heading around the corner towards Carmel and Big Sur. Chris’Fishing Trips listed the “usual;” limits for all clients on all boats for all rockfish trips this week, despite the south swell. In Santa Cruz the big charter boats from Stagnaro’s Sportfishing are pulling limits or near-limits from the local reefs. Their north coast trips are pulling in bigger fish and an increasing number of ling cod. Private boater Joe Baxter checked in on Sunday after fishing near Ano Nuevo. Baxter and friends scored on bigger bottom dwelling rockfish and pulled in some hefty ling cod as well.
As the south swell dies, we are seeing halibut back on the bite in shallower water. Bounce-balling hoochies or bait behind a dodger is a proven technique from 30 feet of water out to 70. Jigging up live anchovies, smelt or kingfish is easy, and the live bait makes for excellent drift-fishing for the halibut. On the more placid beaches, some surfcasters are pulling in smaller “chicken” halibut with perhaps one out of three reaching the required size limit of 22 inches. Surfcasting for perch is good and getting better, as this year’s crop of fish grows bigger and stranger. By the weekend, most beaches around the bay were clean and clear of kelp or seagrass, excepting those little “corners” that collect the flotsam in their eddies.

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