We went out fishing on the Truckee River on Saturday, September 14th. Beautiful, clear morning – got out onto the water by about 7:00am. The water was unfortunately incredibly low, so it was difficult to find pockets of fishable water. We ended up pulling off just south of the Alpine Meadows turnoff on Highway 89 between the lake and Truckee and found a few reasonably good spots. We used dry flies and caught a few beautiful, but very small – 4-5 inchers – trout. All in all a beautiful morning but not the best time of year to go, particularly during the drought we’re having out here.
Absolutely nothing to report here other than two conversations with the Fish and Game folks.
First conversation was two weeks ago at the launch ramp at Santa Cruz Harbor, it went something like this:
“Hey, has anybody reported any salmon caught at all around here today?”
The young girl (maybe 18) looked at me like I was asking her if she had seen Elvis walking around earlier. Seriously, I knew right away that there was nothing to report at all in terms of fish being caught. She said she hadn’t heard of or seen a single salmon caught out of Santa Cruz harbor in weeks.
Pretty much the same deal for the older Fish and Game guy I asked last Saturday.(He was one carrying a guy).
He told me the fishing was absoultely zero down this way but according to the pre-season speculation from the scientists, the fishing was to pick up come the second half of the season. So maybe that will pan out. Until then, no salmon out of Santa Cruz unfortunately.
Day 2 – Salmon Season
Fishing for just about everyone on the first day of the salmon season was not nearly as good as the expectations. Depending on where you were caught fishing had quite a bit to do with your luck, but for the most part, the majority of the anglers who fished off Santa Cruz, CA came back into the docs in the early afternoon without a single fish. It was a shame in some ways, but the good news was the weather was pretty darn good for everyone. There was plenty of sunshine, and the wind and the waves were not too out control.
To give a better idea of the sea conditions, for most of the boats who left before six o’clock Saturday morning, the stampede to the fishing grounds out near the Soquel Hole were just about flat. Maybe not like a lake, but the ocean was very calm and was a great way to cruise over the ten mile run at the start of the season. Later in the morning, the winds started to pick up a bit, and the currents started to play a part in the fishing, but overall weather was not a factor on day one.
Most fishermen were trolling around, pulling both hoochies, spin baits, and dragging dodgers and flashers as would be expected for an opening day of salmon fishing. It was estimated that over 250 sport fishing boats left the Santa Cruz, CA harbor on Saturday in search of the salmon, and less than 85 salmon were reported to be caught come late evening. There were some reports on undersized fish being released, however its very hard to verify those numbers.
As the fleet was fishing the area known as “The Hole”, much of the water is deeper than 250 feet, and there again were varying reports of the depths where fish were taken. Some fish were said to be caught below the 150 foot mark, and some others were reporting fish quite a bit higher. One thing that was for sure were the complaints of very large schools of jellyfish in the area. The jellyfish are not usually a major problem, but they can definitely turn your baits into a cluster mess of jelly and the jellyfish can also get all tangled up in your down-rigger gear. Just one of those nuisances of salmon fishing, but not the end of the world.
As for how we did, well, I’m sorry to say that we did not even get a single bite this opening day. We did our usual mooching, which was droppin down to 100-200 feet some sardines that were threaded up with a nice hook on the end. Depending on the time of day, we were using between 2-4 ounces to get everything down as the currents were changing rapidly, but that method produced no luck for us. Many boats were passing us all day long with their trolling gear, but we did not even see a single net get dipped into the water. So, quite strange to say the least. Not what was expected, but maybe it was just us, and others had some much better luck farther up or farther down the coast.
Good weather was a great treat, and we’ll all be trying for some salmon again real soon.
April 7, 2012 – The Santa Cruz Harbor
Today is the day we have all been waiting for once again. Another long winter without any fresh salmon in the freezer is coming to an end. Saturday is the beginning of the salmon fishing season here in California, and for all the sport fishermen, that is the best news of the year. But that’s not all.
This year, the fishing is expected to be much better than last year. There have already, in the first few hours of the season been reports of many nice sized salmon being caught just off the coast in areas like Monterrey Bay, and especially in Santa Cruz. Since we will be fishing ourselves out of Santa Cruz Harbor in just a few more minutes, I can safely say that there are hundreds of boats heading straight out or near the Soquel Hole to try and locate the fish.
Bayside Marine, one of the local fish and tackle shops here in Santa Cruz was booming with customers up until about 9:00 pm last night. Although many of the people hanging around the tackle shop were pretty much loaded from sipping on beers all day, it was pretty impressive to see so much action all in anticipation for the opening day of the salmon fishery here on the coast.
If you start talking with the locals, you’ll get your usual mix of exactly how and what is the best way to catch the fish. Conventional thinking goes back to what I consider to be pretty boring – trolling around some lures. But, trolling for salmon, especially early in the season is the most common and popular fishing method. People love to attach different lures, or hoochies to the end of the line. And some people like using a flasher or dodger, which is thought to attract the fish as well.
But, for people like me, trolling around with your engine blasting out fumes all day is no fun. So, like you’ve seen before from past years, we’ll be mooching with some threaded sardines once again and hopefully getting the chance to put a nice big pink fleshed salmon in the box(or two or three).
Salmon fishing regulations are largely unchanged since last year. Each licensed angler is allowed to keep 2 fish, and the salmon need to be at least 24 inches in length. No silver/coho salmon are allowed to be taken. Only king salmon are allowed. You can figure out which type of salmon you have caught by looking at the gums of the fish. If the gums are white, that is a silver salmon and you must release it immediately. If the gums are black in color, that fish can be kept as long as its 24 inches long. More details about the fishing regulations can be located at the California Fish and Game Website.
Good Luck fishing this year, and hopefully we’ll see some 20 and 30 pound salmon on the first day!