Ocean fishing opens up for salmon and rockfish

AlexPhoto: Alex is all smiles with his prized catch of Monterey Bay salmon

Rockfish and lingcod season started out slow April 1st and is rapidly building momentum. Salmon season launched days later with hit and miss results.

A few anglers started the season with rockfish and a new limit of 3 lingcod per angler. The local water proved a bit tough with cool inshore temperatures and a ground swell. The rockfish and lingcod were on a stubborn bite but have started to keep anglers busy during the slow days of salmon fishing. Most boats stayed local for ground fish while working the reefs from south rock up the coast to Wilders. The catch for bottom fish has ranged from black, vermilion and blue rock fish and a scattering of lingcod have showed in the mix. The calm days with little swell in the water have been the best and calm winds help while drifting for rockfish. The usual gear has worked with swim baits, shrimp flies and live bait used for ling cod topping the charts. It will be a long season for rockfish and many anglers are pacing themselves and using this fishery as a fall back to salmon if its slow for salmon fishing.

Salmon always take the top interest honors in the bay and we are all grateful for a season to be had. While scientific studies seem to translate into robust runs of salmon the opener proved challenging for most. The theme for salmon seems to be the boats with no fish are quiet while the high score boats are more vocal and willing to hail advise over the VHF radio. Anglers need to be patient and put in their time for these silver sided prized game fish as some days have hosted good fishing for salmon and limits can be had! Other days anglers may get skunked or be happy with a fish per rod. The northwest wind kicked in for the season opener and luckily turned warm water cool this may help keep fish in our area and move the mackerel south. The trend for salmon has been finding schools of anchovies as a feed fish for salmon and trolling or mooching around these bait balls. The baitfish and salmon have been in unseasonable shallow water, 100 feet of water from Capitola to Moss Landing and some days the south side of Moss Landing has produced salmon as well. The bay was filled with mackerel prior to the opener most have migrated south but if you’re not lucky your salmon gear may get attacked by frenzied mackerel if so it is time to move to a new spot.

Tradition gear is catching salmon at this time. Most anglers troll with a flasher and bait rig while some prefer the flasher and hoochie set up. Spoons and apex lures catch fish as well if you prefer an easy approach. Mooching is an effective technique for salmon and is working well while fish feed on schools of anchovies. Anglers mooch whole anchovies while drifting the edges of the bait schools.

It is a great time to get out ocean fishing for salmon or rockfish you may even see a Grey, or Humpback whale while your at it. I hope you can get out on the bay soon.

Article- Mike Baxter

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