Weather allows anglers to rock and reel, catch chili peppers, other rockfish

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

Weather allows anglers to rock and reel, catch chili peppers, other rockfish
This group of fishermen enjoyed a trifecta this week with Santa Cruz Coastal Charters.their catch included limits of rockfish, petrale sole and at least one lingcod each!

by Allen Bushnell

Weather and waves are finally settling down allowing boaters to access deep reef rockfishing spots in Monterey Bay. All areas beyond 300 feet of water were closed to anglers who pursue RCG Complex species (rockfish, cabezon and greenling) since 2012 statewide, and for even longer in some specific areas, including Monterey Bay. The obvious benefit of these new open areas is, they have experienced no fishing pressure for all this time. Specific types of rockfish make their homes within specific depth ranges. Those fish that only inhabit the deep water have been unmolested for decades in some spots. This makes for abundant populations for us to target beyond the shallow areas we’ve been allowed to fish over the past decade or longer.
With reports rolling in from the charter fishing boats, it appears that the chili pepper rockfish is the most abundant of these deepwater rockfish. JT Thomas from Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters recorded quick and easy limits on his trips this week, fishing in 300-400 feet of water outside of Santa Cruz. On Sunday, Thomas reported,”Today we fished the deep waters where the clients caught big vermillion, green spot, chili peppers and capachio. The petrale sole were on the bite.” Chili peppers average around 3 pounds each, and Thomas informed us the yield is much higher with the chilis than, for instance, vermilion rockfish. “We get twice as much meat from a chili than we do from a verm,” Thomas says. “The deckhands also love them because they filet like wrapping paper,” he added.
Rodney Armstrong from Santa Cruz Coastal Fishing Charters has been counting quick limits of chili peppers and other assorted rockfish from the deep reefs as well. Armstrong agrees with the increased yield aspect of these schooling bottomfish and is even more excited about the quality of chili peppers for eating. “They just have a better texture and taste than any other rockfish in my opinion,” Armstrong stated. As the weather and winds settle down over these next few weeks, we all expect this deep water bite continue strong. And, as the weeks roll by, anglers will be remembering or discovering all those hot spots out there that haven’t been fished for years.

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