Where to shop for your fishing gear

Where to shop for your fishing gear
Laura Reeser found the stripers this weekend. Her comment was "Saturday afternoon solo mission. Five striper, two perch, one happy girl."

by Allen Bushnell

Ok, it’s time to go fishing!  Sadly, we can’t pursue our favorite king salmon this year, the fishery remains closed due to low counts of returning salmon to California’s river systems. Rockfish season opens on May 1with no depth restrictions until October.  We should have fantastic rockfishing while targeting deep reefs that have lain unmolested for many years.  Big halibut are already starting to bite on the flat sandy areas in 50-70 feet of water around the bay. Surfcasting for perch remains a little slow, but will heat up as the ocean temperatures rise. Also very exciting after this tumultuous winter of wind, rain and giant swells, we are seeing big schools of roving striped bass feeding up and down the shore of Monterey Bay due to the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers getting a good flush after previous years of drought. The best striper bite so far has remained south of Moss Landing, but there have been a few pulses of stripers on the beaches near Capitola and Santa Cruz just this week. Boat based anglers are also reporting schools of sardines fairly close to shore both in the north and south sections of the bay. “Sardine years” have a history of being very productive for ocean fishing and may provide some variety in the species feeding in the bay this year.
To get set for a potentially fast and furious fishing season, we gotta get gear. Rods, reels, bait and tackle are a constant need for the active angler. We put the question out to some of the salty anglers around the bay recently, asking about their favorite tackle shops in the area or nearby and received some great info that they were happy to share.
Ed Quiambao from Salinas responded, “We got The Tackle Box in Salinas, 1012 N. Davis Rd. Salinas Ca. They’ve been at the same location for more than 40 years. Talk to Roger, he will get you going! We also have Fishery Supply in San Jose off Story Rd. Mai is the owner, and she’s super awesome!” Ralph Reyes, owner of mekeni_baitz added, “Along with Ed’s mentions we also frequent Hi’s Tackle shop at SSF. Jonah and Michelle have a great selection of rods, reels and tackle for all sorts of fishing.” BJ Sack from Santa Cruz recommends Bayside Marine, West Marine, Coyote Bait and Tackle and Moss Landing Boat Works. Coyote Bait seems to be a favorite with the surfcasters. Roger Urabe mentioned,”Nice staff & owner. Has everything for fishing local waters,” while Jamie Smith asserted “Coyote because it’s a little store and was open everyday during the pandemic and open at 6am to 6pm. Good people.” Our friend Forrest Murray is mostly a boat angler these days, but doesn’t seem to get very far away from Santa Cruz. His quote read, “Are there choices besides Bayside and West Marine?” Bayside is a fixture at the Santa Cruz Harbor and carries a full line of fishing and boating supplies, bait and associated gear. West Marine is located at 2460 17th avenue in Santa Cruz. Besides the clothing, electronics and full boating supply, this particular store has a vastly improved bait and tackle section thanks to the management team of Sergio and Brandon, who strive to keep everything stocked including a wide variety of fresh and frozen bait.Another favorite shop just a stone’s throw from the beach is J & D Tackle Shop, 1675 Contra Costa (upstairs), Sand City CA. This little shop is above J & D Auto Repair and is well-stocked with gear for local anglers. 
Greg Henning from Soquel provided a thoughtful and somewhat historical response saying, “I’ve thought about this for a while. The Sportsman’s Shop and Ernie’s were my go-to places back in my day. Info, gear, etc. were always trusted. Now I think it’s been super hard for any business to stay afloat in this area and will get much more difficult (salmon closer). Given that SC people go with Bayside and a much improved (in my opinion) West Marine for their gear. Coyote and Tackle Box are a ways away but have certain things.” Mark Juhas fishes the Monterey Bay on a regular basis, but also travels a bit while chasing fish. He provided a couple alternative shops to look for when we’re on the road. Juhas remarked, “There's New Coastside Bait and Tackle in Pacifica. Excellent supply of lures (some hard to find elsewhere), all the terminal tackle you could need, a selection of rods and reels and even live bait. The friendly newer owner (the former passed away a couple years ago) is helpful, knowledgeable, and knows the current fish stories from the area. Also, Central Coast guys I interact with in other groups pitch ‘Been There, Caught That’ in Santa Maria. I've not been there, but seems like a well stocked small independent business, from what I've seen.”

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