Weather limits action for boaters, surfcasters alike

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

 Weather limits action for boaters, surfcasters alike
Salmon anglers are hoping that the 2023 season will provide quality king salmon like this beautiful limit caught by Santa Cruz Port Commisioner Dennis Smith back in 2020.

by Allen Bushnell

Another week of nasty storms and hectic seas kept Monterey Bay anglers from pursuing their passions, for the most part. After initial restrictions, the crab season is now fully open. It’s that time of year our Monterey Bay Dungeness are crawling closer to the edges of the canyons. Reports indicate 180-220 foot depths are yielding limits for the recreational guys that pick up 4-10 pots on their forays. This week weather was the primary factor, keeping boats at the dock and few, if any, crab reported caught.  Nasty weather and rough water conditions kept surfcasters off the beach as well.  Except for a couple days around the weekend, the beaches were unfishable. Those that found the right place at the right time were able to pull in some nice barred surf perch, using grubs, GULP! sandworms or small stickbaits. Though not numerous, the fish reported caught were hefty and healthy. We are looking forward to some milder conditions as we ramp up to the March 11 Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby in Santa Cruz. There is some fantastic structure along all the beaches that ring the bay, though it will take a few days of scouting to determine the most likely spot to pull in a derby winner.
Rockfish season opens on May 1 this year. The season is shorter and the regulations much more complicated than in the past. For purposes of clarity, Here is the direct quote from California Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the depth and date details. DFW stated in their news release from December 20, 2022, regarding the 2023 season. 
“Central Management Area between 37°11' N. latitude (Pigeon Point) and 34°27' N. latitude (Point Conception):

  • For nearshore rockfish, cabezon and greenlings: closed Jan. 1 through April 30, open at all depths May 1 through Sept. 30, closed Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.


  • For all other rockfish (shelf and slope species) and lingcod: closed Jan. 1 through April 30, open at all depths May 1 through Sept. 30. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, take of shelf and slope rockfish and lingcod is open seaward of the 50 fathom RCA line. Take is prohibited shoreward of the 50 fathom RCA line.”

It’s more complicated than that, with certain rockfish limited as to take, and all take or possession forbidden for cowcod, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfish.
Salmon anglers look to be facing some dramatically reduced fishing opportunities this year as well. We will get the details  out when they become available, but information from the stakeholders meeting held on Wednesday indicate a “Poor 2023 outlook for California’s ocean salmon stocks,” according to the DFW. While not describing what the commercial, inland or recreational ocean salmon seasons might look like during the meeting, the CA DFW informed us that,  “Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three ocean fishery season alternatives during the March 5-10 PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council) meeting. Final ocean salmon season regulations will be adopted at the PFMC’s April 1-7 meeting. The California Fish and Game Commission will consider and approve inland fishery seasons and regulations this spring, with final decisions in May.”

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