Anglers reeling in rockfish, lingcod

Anglers reeling in rockfish, lingcod
Rudy Zeiss, deckhand extraordinaire aboard Moss Landing’s Kahuna, hoists another big ling cod for lucky (or skilled?) client Daniel Cada last week.

by Allen Bushnell

Big game hunters were frustrated this week. We know there are huge schools of bluefin tuna all along the Northern California coast, but recent weather conditions have made it difficult if not impossible to go out and chase after them. A few boats from Half Moon Bay and San Francisco posted bluefin scores this week, but we received no reports from our area that stretches from Big Sur up to Pigeon Point. Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine keeps best tabs on tuna action and said, “There were two boats that I spoke to looking for bluefin. The angler who went to Monterey found a great break with birds and whales but no tuna. One boat went looking for blue fin near the Davenport Fingers and beyond. The anglers reported cold temperatures and windy conditions. They did not hook any bluefin and the wind was blowing too hard to see any boils.” The one consistent thing about weather is that we know it will change. Once these winds settle down, we expect to be featuring numerous bluefin catch reports.
On the inside, the weather is just fine for fishing thank you. Local charter boats are still concentrating on the deep reef rockfish, and consistently reporting limits for each trip. Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey counted 270 rockfish and 54 lingcod on their longer-range trip last weekend. Go Fish Santa Cruz caught full limits for all clients on every trip they took this week. With a lighter load of six people max, Go Fish is counting their limits early, making for a fun and comfortable adventure, usually arriving back at the harbor well before lunchtime. Skipper JT Thomas is enjoying the variety of big cod being caught. “We love the quick limits of quality rock fish including canaries, bocaccio, green spots and chilipeppers,” Thomas reported.
Halibut fishing has been very productive all season. Some spots are showing the effects of fishing pressure. The Mile Buoy area in Santa Cruz, for instance is slowing way down for bigger halibut. So many fish have been caught near that location so far this year. We would encourage anglers to explore some other areas. It’s a giant bay. Anglers are finding plenty of halibut in the 15-25 pound range just a few miles from any of our harbors. 
Because of the King salmon closure, retention regulations were adjusted to lessen the not unexpected impact on halibut. We are allowed to keep only two halibut per angler per day. Surfcasters have been pulling in small halibut from warm protected beaches around the bay for a few weeks now. Caution please: The undersized fish need to be treated with utmost respect and care. These are our future breeding stock. Halibut are very prone to mortality after catch and release. Pulling an undersized fish up onto dry sand or handling in any fashion can lead to infections and death for that fish. You watch it swim away, but there is more than a 40% likelihood that fish is not going to make it to next year. Best practice is to release any obviously undersized halibut while still in the water, whether it’s caught from the sand or from a boat. On the boats, a rubberized small mesh net will help to prevent splitting the halibut tail fin rays, a common location for fatal infections to begin. We are allowed to gaff halibut, but have to be absolutely certain the fish is beyond the legal minimum size of 22 inches before sticking in the gaff. 

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