Wind continues to hinder hunt for bluefin

Wind continues to hinder hunt for bluefin
Most mornings feature calm seas in the shallow nearshore waters. Perfect for hooking up a big lingcod or halibut from a small boat.

by Allen Bushnell

Fishing around the Monterey Bay was a little slower for most anglers, mostly due to weather conditions, specifically wind. Though a few mornings featured calm conditions nearshore, the outer bay waters have been blown out nearly every day. This means no hunting for the bluefin tuna that are roaming around not so far away. We know the big tuna are feeding in the area from Big Sur on up the coast to Fort Bragg, from 10-50 miles offshore. But the winds and resultant windswells make it impossible to get to the grounds comfortably and safely, or to find the tuna even if you make it out there. It remains a waiting game. Hopefully as August trends into September, we will see some pleasant offshore conditions and start counting hundred-pound plus bluefins at the dock.
The local winds have made even the deep rockfish reefs hard to fish. Windswells, chop and heavier currents make it more difficult for skippers to locate the deep reefs and stay on top of them while the fish are biting. Reports indicate charter boats from Monterey and Moss Landing were heading up towards Santa Cruz to hit the rocky spots at the northern tip of the bay. Apparently the bite has slowed for deep rockfish along the canyon edges at the center of the bay. The boats continue to post reports of full limits of fish for their clients, though the trips are taking a bit longer this week compared to the past few weeks.
In shallower waters, summertime species are active and catches remain consistent. A full array of rockfish are biting from reefs in the 30 to 120-foot depths. There have been plenty of lingcod in the nearshore as well, though many of them are small. Treat the undersized lings with care please, and release them safely. California halibut are scattered in the shallows all around the bay. Wherever there’s some flat sand, you can expect to find a few halibut around. This, despite the tremendous pressure on halibut this year. The flatties became target #1 for most kayaks, skiffs, and smaller sport fishing boats when salmon season was closed for the year. The daily bag limit for halibut was reduced to two fish per angler per day in order to mitigate the expected pressure on the big flatfish. 
Early season halibut “go-to” spots have been hammered. The Mile Buoy area in Santa Cruz, Pajaro Pipeline near Moss Landing, and DelMonte Beach towards Sand City in Monterey hosted piles of halibut earlier this season, but pickings are slim these days. Much better for all concerned (especially the fish) to travel a little and hit some of the more remote spots that don’t see so much traffic. Forty to 60 foot depths off the big broad beaches along the center of the Bay like Manresa, Pajaro, Fort Ord and Marina as well as sandy areas off the North Coast of Santa Cruz or around the corner of Point Pinos towards Carmel historically host big late season halibut that can range into the 30-40 pound class. Those same areas are where white sea bass show up around this time of year and further into the fall. Fish with whole squid, live if possible.

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