Nearshore rockcod fishing closes for the year | Fish Rap – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Nearshore rockfishing is closed for the 2023 season. Captain Rodney Armstrong from Santa Cruz Coastal Charters got his last licks in, providing a day of limit-style action for rockfish and lingcod in the shallows near Santa Cruz. (Contributed)

Though windy conditions kept most boats fishing close to home, this week was mostly pleasant and quite productive for anglers around the Monterey Bay.

This was the last week of nearshore rockcod fishing for the year. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife made an in-season change closing the nearshore area a month sooner than originally planned, due to concerns about quillback and copper rockfish numbers.

Many successful striper anglers will fish all night in hopes of catching “the big one.” Joey Gallegos perseverance paid off this week with this 22-pound bass. (Contributed)

Most of the big reports this season have come from boaters fishing beyond the 300-foot boundary. This is the first season that area has been open in 15 years or so, and anglers find the deep reef rockfish to be numerous and bigger on average than the inshore cod. Deepwater rockfishing is scheduled to continue through December. In the meantime, there’s still lots to do for those of us that stay closer to shore, like the kayak anglers and surfcasters.

Halibut season stays open all year. The big flatfish move out to deeper waters for the winter, though there’s always a chance of hooking one up even in the dead of winter. Right now the halibut are still in close, mostly. Typical for fall, the best flatty bite is coming from 50-80 feet of water off of DelMonte Beach or Sand City near Monterey, and the Capitola and North Coast areas near Santa Cruz. The vast stretch of flat sandy areas in the center of Monterey Bay’s coastline will always have a good amount of halibut, they are just a little harder to find. Halibut often prefer sandy areas with close-by structure such as reefs of bull kelp beds, especially at this time of year.

Fishing from the beach is getting better and should continue to that arc as we move towards wintertime conditions. We might call this month, September and October the best, for bigger striped bass on Monterey Bay. This week certainly suggested so to anglers hitting the classic south bay beaches like Marina Beach as well as a new influx of bass near Santa Cruz.

The stripers are moving in close as they follow the bait into shallow waters. Look for birds working the bait near the shorebreak, and give it a go. Top water plugs, stickbaits, KastMasters, swimbaits or dropshot rigs with live sandcrabs all garnered bites from big stripers this week.

We received numerous reports this week of stripers in the 20-pound class caught from Santa Cruz beaches, even from some of the main beaches in town. The bass are chasing anchovies and other baitfish, which are so numerous as to become a nuisance at the Santa Cruz harbor. They are running their aerators to keep oxygen levels up and prevent a mass die-off of baitfish, which has occurred a few times in previous years.

Allen Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, pictures or questions to

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