Anglers hopeful of big striped bass season

Monterey Bay

Anglers hopeful of big striped bass season
Justin Reinman from Santa Cruz used a blue and white Calissa stickbait at a local beach this week and was rewarded with a nice dinner-sized striped bass

by Allen Bushnell

Fishing is getting better as we move slowly towards the spring season on Monterey Bay. Surfcasters are successful if they pick the right spot, and offshore fishing is booming, if you don’t mind small fish.
Perch fishing was tough near Santa Cruz last week. We received few reports of successful surfcasting from the beaches near town. The water cleaned up nicely after weekend storms and wave action was gentle. It’s still a matter of “right place, right time.” Beaches that were producing big graybelly barred perch last week were bestowing blanks this week. The larger broad beaches towards Watsonville seemed to be productive, especially on the high tides. On a more positive note, we’re getting an increase in the number of striped bass caught locally. Most of the stripers reported were schoolie sized fish, likely young ones recently flushed from the Pajaro and Salinas rivers. WE’ve not seen any significant concentration of stripers yet, but so far it’s looking better than last year. We just might have another productive striper year in 2023.
Todd Arcaleo from Chris’ Sportfishing in Monterey is sending one or two boats out every weekend, as they can gather clients. Once on the water, the skipper will head toward deep water to find schools of Petrale sole and the delicious sand dab flatfish for the boat. The Checkmate made it out on Monday with a light load of nine anglers aboard. The group loaded up with “Lot’s of” sand dabs and 74 Dungeness crab along with 15 rock crab. The ‘dabs might not be big, but the numbers are astronomical. On any given trip, an angler can catch more than enough to feed the family and neighbors or stock the freezer for summertime bait. 
Anyway you look at it, it’s going to be a very different season. Rockfish does not open until May 1 this year. But, there are no depth restrictions until October 1. Anglers may fish as deep as they please for rockcod. It’s been many years since the areas deeper than 300 feet were accessible to us. This year’s regulations open vast areas that have experienced virtually no fishing pressure for many years, and host a wide variety of deep-water rockfish seldom hooked inside of 300 feet. In October the nearshore areas inside of 300 feet will be closed down to rockcod fishing, and the deeper areas will stay open until December 31. And, of course all are lamenting the loss of salmon season for this year though most agree it is the prudent move with the low counts recorded by the fisheries scientists. The economic impact of a closed salmon season is yet to be determined but undoubtedly will be significant for our local fishing industry and related service providers.

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