Niki Rothwell hoists a beautiful, blue lingcod while on a recent trip with Go Fish Santa Cruz Charters. (Contributed)
It looks like we’re in a weather window this week that will allow some fine autumn fishing. This week featured small waves, clean water, good tides and low winds in the mornings. Afternoons got a bit breezy, but the forecast for the weekend through Monday is calling for less wind. That makes for longer fishing days.
Sadly, the nearshore rockfishing is closed for the season. Offshore, beyond the 60-fathom line, rockfish are still fair game and anglers continue to take advantage of deep reef action. The canyon edges host great populations of deep rockfish and are a good place to start looking if your charts don’t include the various reefs and rockpiles between 300 and 500 feet.
Chris’ Sportfishing out of Monterey has capitalized on these deepwater fish for the entire season, bagging quick limits of quality fish on every trip aboard the Caroline and Check Mate. Monday’s trip on the Check Mate only had six anglers aboard. That means lots of elbow room on the rail. In pursuit of bigger fish and quicker limits, Chris’ often sends their boats down to the Big Sur area. Relatively unmolested due to travel time and fuel costs, that area near Point Sur and beyond features swarms of chilipeppers, vermilion and other deepwater rockfish. In addition, fishing for lingcod has been fantastic all year for Chris’ even on their closer trips. Monday’s trip boasted full limits of lings for all onboard.
All summer have been enduring the “tuna tease.” Months ago, a few bluefin were caught in the broad area between Point Sur and the Farallon Islands. We even had a spot of albacore or two. Plenty of tuna have been sighted but only a few caught here and there. The problem for the most part, has been weather. Tenacious high winds and choppy seas offshore 30 to 60 miles prevent boats from getting out and making the most of the tuna presence in our area. It’s been frustrating.
The warm water breaks are becoming more defined near Carmel and the Davenport Fingers area right now. With fall upon us there’s a good chance the weather patterns will provide calm conditions that allow more boats to make it out to the tuna grounds. It is not unusual for the big bluefin tuna, and even albacore schools to remain in our area until December. We shall see.
In the meantime, Monterey Bay anglers are enjoying some related exotics on the inside. Huge bait balls are nearing shore right now and quite a few bonito are feeding on the anchovies, smelt and sardines. Bonito are a “tuna-like” fish related to mackerel. They are a blast for fishing being fast and strong. Reports indicate good bonito bites this week have occurred on bait balls near the Monterey Wharf, the Cement Ship in Aptos and straight out from the Santa Cruz Harbor in 40-60 feet of water.
Allen Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to email@example.com.