Winter is fast approaching

Monterey Bay

Winter is fast approaching
Rockfishing remains steady on the deeper reefs. Dungeness crab is on the menu for hoopnetters working 140-180 foot depths near the canyon edges.

by Allen Bushnell

Winter is fast approaching. We’ve already had a couple significant northwest swells hit the Monterey Bay area, the latest was a one day overhead swell on Thursday. This affects water temps and bait concentrations. It also tends to move the rockfish and halibut out further to deeper waters for the season. But, we are by no means done with good fishing in our area. 
There are plenty of rockfish around. Targeting the deeper reefs is a smart bet at this point. In Santa Cruz, the reefs off Natural Bridges and Wilder’s Ranch in 125-250 feet of water can provide plenty of rockfish action. There are numerous deep spots up the coast holding big grumpy cod as well. The deep reefs are harder to find if you don’t have your GPS waypoints already. Good advice is to slow down and pay close attention to your sonar to locate fish. When you find them, hit that waypoint button quickly, so you can stay on the spot and use it again next week.
Monterey rockfishers are doing best below Point Pinos, towards Carmel and Big Sur. Chris’ fishing Trips is running daily trips and continues to report limits of cod for their clients aboard the Check Mate and Caroline. Ling cod fishing is picking up on both ends of the bay, though we haven’t seen a major movement of lings towards the shallows as yet.
Bluefin tuna are still in the area. Counts were lower this week, as wind and swell conditions kept most boats away from the offshore “Fingers” area where most of the bluefin have settled in. Mackerel have proven to be the best bait for the big tuna this year but they are getting harder to come by for die-hard tuna chasers. Only a few tuna were reported caught, though reports of jumpers and breezers indicate these trophy fish are still hanging around. Get them while you can!
Sport anglers are restricted to using hoop nets only for Dungeness crab so far this season. The hoops must be monitored, no overnight soaks. Being open at the top, hoops would allow the crabs to climb out after they’ve eaten the bait, so short soaks are most practical. Limits of Dungeness are there to be had, for dedicated crabbers willing to put in the time and effort. Many are trailering their boats up to Half Moon Bay, where the crabbing is quicker. In Monterey Bay, common Dungeness depths are 140 to 200 feet of water. In Half Moon Bay, even the kayak fishermen are catching limits while hoop-netting in 30-50 feet of water these days.

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