Salmon action remains intense in Monterey Bay
Anglers in Monterey Bay enjoyed a third straight week of Stellar salmon fishing before increasing winds slowed the bite. A few large shoals have settled in various places around the bay to feed on the overabundant anchovy bait balls. Sardines are popping up as well as squid spawning spots, especially near Monterey.
“’Return to the wharf at 9:30.’ “Came in at 10pm” and “Done before 8am!” are common phrases from private boat reports this week as well as six-pack charters. Even large charters carrying 15-20 anglers have limits when fishing for salmon in the bay’s hotspots.
And, all the classic salmon areas were producing this week. Point Pinos, Soldier’s Club, Mulligans Hill, Pajaro Hole, Soquel Hole, Three Trees and Davenport all have limitations for trolling with hoochies, spoons or straight baits.
Water temperatures remain low, averaging around 52 degrees for most of the bay. As a result, the fish are high in the water column with most catches reported 50 to 120 feet on the wire for trollers. Shallow fish means hot fish. Many opportunities have been lost lately as the fish got unbuttoned during the exciting fights. But, there are a lot more salmon and they seem to be biting well. The lost ground is quickly regained when you count the double, triple or even quintuple connections. The quality of the fish is also high. Most of the salmon caught are teenagers, with a good number weighing in the 20s and a few reaching the 30 pound zone.
The afternoon winds were fierce. We seem to have gale warnings every other day or so with winds of up to 35 knots within 10 miles of shore. Northwest winds continue to blow after dark before easing towards dawn. It creates an uncomfortable early morning bump on the water but doesn’t seem to affect the bite. If anything, the winds ultimately help, creating the upwelling that keeps the water cool and nutrient rich and has the effect of keeping those hungry salmon here in the area for food.
Charter boat reports include Go Fish Santa Cruz with limits or near limits daily by 10am. On Saturday Go Fish skipper JT Thomas said: “The salmon bite continues to be hot. Customers had 12 beautiful king salmon at 8:30 this morning. Deckhand JP had the fish cleaned and bagged at 10:30 a.m. They left happy and ready to cook salmon and drink Bloody Marys.
Four-timer Tom Joseph on the Sara Bella chimed in on Sunday, saying: “Our three anglers caught six salmon at 18lbs, the bite is still hot.”
Big boats mooch or drift fish for kings. Trying to troll with 15-20 lines is next to impossible, especially if the fish are deep. This week, Chris’ Fishing Trips in Monterey reported midweek salmon limits for the Check Mate and Carolina on their best days of the week, while Stagnaro in Santa Cruz averaged one fish per rod during the salmon fishing Tuesday.
Many local fishermen burn their vacation days at work while taking advantage of this hot bite situation. Private boater Joe Baxter fished with Nick Castillo for the 9 a.m. limits last Thursday and Friday. Baxter reported that the key to their success was rather simple. “Find the schools of birds above the whales. Drive and connect,” he said. The duo were fishing in the central part of Monterey Bay on the vessel Atom Bomb. Straight baits and Tom Mack spoons did the trick for these guys, fishing 80 to 120 feet on the wire.
Allen Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak’s fishing and surfcasting guide service. Please send your reports, photos or questions to [email protected]