2011 California Salmon Season Opening Day Fishing Results

santa cruz harbor salmon boats
Salmon Season Opening Day Santa Cruz 201

Saturday’s opening day of the long awaited Salmon Season for everyone in California was a great time no matter how many fish were caught big or small.  Not only was there relatively few problems reported, but the fishing turned out pretty good for most anglers.

As expected, the best salmon fishing and fish numbers that were reported was from Santa Cruz Harbor, where boats had on average just under 1 fish per person.  Considering how many boats were launched at the boat ramp and the number of local boats from the harbor that fished, it was quite incredible!

soquel hole santa cruz salmon
Salmon Fishing the Soquel Hole

The overwhelming majority of salmon were caught at the Soquel Hole, which is just a 25-30 minute run from the mouth of Santa Cruz harbor.  The salmon were caught in depths of between 230 feet and 290 feet of water, and most of the actual fish were picked up between depths of 80-200 feet.  The most common fishing gear used to catch the salmon for opening day was a trolling rig made up of a salmon dodger or flasher, along with a hoochie which looks like a live squid.  Many of the fishermen reported large amounts of un-digested squid in the stomachs and intestines of the salmon they were filleting at the fish tables after wards.  Another common trolling setup that had success was dragging a dead sardine at slow trolling speeds of 2-4 knots.

In other parts of the California coast, the salmon fishing seemed to also be decent.  Many of the San Francisco Bay fleet headed north to Duxbury Reef for mixed results and the Half Moon Bay fleet also had some mixed results with occasional reports of large salmon taken.

The weather was slightly rough at different times of the day.  The wind would pick up at times in the early morning and then die off again and repeat that cycle.  The seas were  by no means calm, and large rollers up to 7 feet were reported.  Towards the end of the afternoon, the seas appeared much more calm compared to much of the early daytime, which is abnormal for this time of year.


Overall, the opening day of the 2011 Salmon Season was a big success with great fishing and few issues.  Sunday’s fishing should bring back some great stories as well.

Kenai Peninsula Alaska Halibut Fishing

halibut fishing boats for Kenai Peninsula
Alaska Halibut Fishing Boats

The first morning of our Alaskan fishing trip, we decided to go out on the salt water and try out halibut fishing.  We were fishing in the Cook Inlet just south of Kenai, Alaska.  We had been told that the halibut fishing was great, and yes, there were tons of pictures of one hundred and two and three hundred pound halibut all over the fishing lodge, but you never really know what you are getting into.

The lodge that we stayed at (Deep Creek Fishing Lodge, owned by Steve Moe and his wife Vivian) has two 28 foot boats that they use on the salt water for halibut. These boats are awesome to say the least.  Below is a picture of the halibut boats so you can get a feel for what I am talking about.  They are perfect for halibut fishing and the potentially nasty Alaskan weather too.

cook inlet halibut fishing
halibut fishing on Cook Inlet

Once we started our journey just a mile away to the launch site, things got really interesting.  I have used many launch ramps before, but nothing quite like the deal they got going in Ninilchik, Alaska.  Basically, you trailer your boat down to the “launch site” and take your boat off your car trailer.  Then the crew down there completely takes over.  What they do is they use a crane that has a trailer hitch on it, and they back your boat up into the water.  Next, you start your engine and pull off the trailer and away you go.
Here is a video of the Ninilchik launch ramp for small boats:

It was wild to see, and amazingly quick and easy.  The same deal when you pull your boat out later in the day.  And the total fee for this service is $55  per day.

Once we got out about 20 miles, we started our day halibut fishing.  The deal was each of us had our own pole.  Our captain Skye and Jeremy did a great job of loading up our hooks with weights and bait all day long.  The halibut bait that we used was cod fish, herring, and octopus.  The fishing line was pretty heavy duty.  The leaders were about 30 feet long and the final portion was some 300lb test line.  So I wasn’t too worried about anything every breaking free on us.  Here is a picture right before we started catching halibut.

We were fishing in about 180 feet of water, and there was about two knots of current.  So we all had some considerable amount of fishing line out.  But, within a few minutes of dropping down our poles, we started noticing that something was beginning to bite on our halibut poles.  My pole was the first to go off, so I began reeling it in.  After a few minutes, and not too much of a fight at all, it was a false alarm, just a couple pound cod.  But we pulled it overboard, and the deckhands began cutting it up and said we could surely use it for bait for the halibut.

It wasn’t too much longer until some of the other fishing poles went off, and this time it was halibut action.  Some of the halibut that we caught were between 20-50 pounds.  No 100 pound halibut today, but we limited out our 2 halibut per person within two hours, and that was pretty good.  The weather was starting to pick up with some relatively heavy winds and some light rain and moderate seas, so we decided to call it a day right after landing the final fish.  And back in we went to put our boat back on the trailer.

CJ Catching an Alaskan Halibut
Alaskan Halibut Fishing near Homer,AK

A super great day halibut fishing, and I was most excited about being able to bring a ton of fish home and share it with family and friends, and especially my wife who told me to make sure to come home with some halibut or else… Here are some more fishing pictures from the day we caught all the halibut in Alaska.

Deep Creek Fishing Halibut Limits
Deep Creek Fishing Club