Santa Cruz Harbor entrance remains heavily shoaled

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

 Santa Cruz Harbor entrance remains heavily shoaled
This is the kind of surprise you like. Russell Wadahara was using his light perch gear when his Lucky Craft 110 was slammed by this 30-inch striper. CPR. Caught, Photographed and Released.

by Allen Bushnell

The Santa Cruz Harbor entrance remains heavily shoaled. Prior to the series of storms, the harbor entrance was maintaining a depth of 22 feet. As of this week, the western third of the entrance is essentially dry sand and another third has a depth of one to three feet. This leaves a very narrow channel that looks to be only four to seven feet deep hard against the east jetty. While some boats are currently transiting the entrance during high tides,    Harbor officials are not supportive of the practice. In their January 10 update, the Port Director advised, “Due to the repetitive storms and associated runoff, the harbor entrance is currently experiencing a higher than normal rate of shoaling, and extremely shallow conditions exist. Mariners are advised to not transit the entrance at this time for their safety and the safety of their vessel.” So, boats aren’t getting in and out of Santa Cruz for regular fishing activities.
Moss Landing and Monterey boats retain full access from their harbors. Dungeness crab is the preferred prey during this time of year, and the crabs are still crawling. Chris’ Fishing Trips from Monterey posted good numbers for their combo trips over the past couple weeks. Anglers aboard the Check Mate are returning with 1/2 to 3/4 limits of tasty dungies, along with “tons of sanddabs,” up to 80 Petrale sole per trip and 30 mackerel for one of their outings.
Monterey Bay beach anglers have reasons to be happy. The ocean is finally clearing up and the incessant swells are diminishing. This makes surfcasting a very reasonable pursuit.    It’s decent fishing right now for perch, and getting better. Look for beaches with clean water. Kelp, seagrass and other flotsam from our recent storms and swells are clearing along many of the beaches. Creek and river runoffs is diminishing as well. Surfcasting into muddy water is a low-yield prospect. Best bets are the big broad beaches of central Monterey Bay.
From Manresa Beach down to Sand City there are plenty of spots where the water is clearing nicely. One benefit of these storms is dramatic beach structure they left in their wake. It takes some exploring to find the deep spots, the troughs, holes and rips that hold feeding fish. But, isn’t that a big part of what we enjoy as surfcasters? There may be a bonus prize in the offing as well. In the past week we’ve received a number of reports of striped bass caught from beaches in both Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. We had confirmed reports of a 27-incher caught in Santa Cruz, and a 30-inch striper hooked from a spot close to Sunset Beach in Watsonville.
Russell Wadahara caught the 30-incher using a 10-foot Okuma Guide Select Pro rod. That is pretty light gear for a striper, and the fish fought well, according to Wadahara. “It was caught this morning on the outgoing tide, maybe halfway before Pajaro. Water was kind of dirty, so I wasn't expecting much. Using a Lucky Craft 110 glow sardine. It measured about an 1/8" short of 30". Measured and released. As you got closer to the river, it was mud brown all the way past the river.Oh, and let me tell you. Catching a fish that big on the GSP was FUN! Looking forward to getting a keeper hali on it this year. It kept taking drag, I think it took out 100-150 feet of line.”
The Monterey stripers were all in the 24-inch range, and were caught by perch anglers using grubs. Others are walking those beaches near Seaside and the Salinas rivers throwing lures for bass, but we’ve received no reports of success yet. Hopefully, these early season bass are an indication of a good surfcast striper year ahead.

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