Heavy winds slow action, but big charters have success

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

Heavy winds slow action, but big charters have success
Russell Wadahara puts in his time at the beach. Here he displays the fruits of his labor with a very nice springtime striped bass caught while throwing a swimbait from a local Monterey County beach.

by Allen Bushnell

It looks like the weather gods have decided we have had enough rain for now. Thank you. Very much. The incessant storms and giant swells of winter seem to have retired for the year. The latest weather patterns over Monterey Bay have presented their own challenges included stiff ongoing winds of up to 40 knots, often continuing overnight. That kind of sustained wind results in big windswell chop and discolored muddy ocean waters, especially close to shore where the bottom gets roiled. As a result, local surfcasting has been a bit challenging.
Farther offshore the bite is going strong, though few boats are out fishing. In previous years, king salmon and rockfish seasons opened in April, bringing a boomtown atmosphere to our ports and boat launch facilities around the bay. This year, it’s not quite a “ghost town,” but it’s pretty quiet at the harbors. The bigger charter boats are making trips and doing quite well from all accounts. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing in Santa Cruz reported 390 sanddabs for 15 anglers aboard the Legacy on Sunday. That factors out to 26 fish per person. Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey is doing equally well with the ‘dabs, plus a few other fish varieties as well as Dungeness crab. The weekend counts from Chris’ included “lots of sandabs,” up to 30 Petrale sole, 12 black cod and up to 120 crab for clients on the Check Mate and the Caroline.
When local surfcasters can find a beach with clean water lately, good things can happen. The surf perch bite is somewhat slow as to be expected this time of year. With a little bit of warming water, we’ll see more big sand crab beds appear in the swash zone, and the slab perch will be right behind. One very beneficial result of our gigantic rainstorms has been to flush out the local river populations of striped bass. Last year was a very dry winter. Striper fishing on the beaches last spring and summer was slow to non existent. This year is shaping up to be a horse of a different color. A good number of anglers are catching stripers from the beach right now. Still mostly small fish, the schoolie sized stripers have ranged from 12 up to 26 inches with 18 inches being the minimum size for retaining the fish. The beaches south of Moss Landing seem to where these bass are feeding now. We’ve received the occasional report of solo stripers hooked from beaches north of Moss so far this year while the stretch of sand from Monterey to Moss Landing is producing well for those in the know. The bass are being caught with a variety of baits and lures including swimbaits, stickbaits, perch grubs or worms and of course live sand crabs when available. 

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