Much of the best salmon fishing off the California Coast is happening right in Santa Cruz which is part of the Monterrey Bay. There seems to be some great action for quite some time now just a few minutes ride by private boat or charter boat from the Santa Cruz harbor, and salmon are being caught with sardines and others from trolling lures in the 70-100 feet range.
Most of the salmon fishing has been the best while bringing your fishing gear down below the 80 foot mark, but for those of you who enjoy fishing much higher to the surface, there is always a decent chance you will get a strike up higher too.
With fishing conditions being very good so far in September, many of the party boats and private yachts have come back to the docks with averages of 1 salmon for every two people, and often the numbers have been much higher. There have also been some larger than normal salmon caught over the past two weeks. There was one confirmed 36 lb. salmon caught with an anchovy three miles off Capitola in 80 feet of water, and there have been numerous 20 lb. salmon reports over the past month too.
One suggestion would be to contact the local harbor master before you plan to leave your house to find out the local weather conditions. It’s definitely worth the quick phone call to find out what might be happening on the ocean during your salmon fishing before you head out of the driveway. And what a great way to head out if the harbormaster tells you the water is flat calm and no wind expected the rest of the day.
We just finished fishing the Stanislaus River off Highway 4, and man was it an excellent few days of fishing for trout. With all of the rain this year, the river was running higher than we have ever seen it, and that seemed to positively impact our overall fishing numbers.
Please watch the video of how the fishing ended up:
Our fishing trip started out with buying some live crickets and night crawler worms from Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods. They are located just off Highway 4 in Arnold, CA. This store I thought was going to be great in terms of help, as the young guy I talked to the day before told me the owner would be there the next day when I planned on driving through their town, but not so much the case. Actually, the old man was cool and helpful with some fishing tips, but his wife was VERY un-cool and actually quite rude. She was trying to tell my friend and I we could not fish where we were planning on fishing off Boards Crossing, which ended up being completely NOT TRUE. Quite strange that she would act so rude to new customers trying to bring her business to her fishing shop.
Either way, this place did not disturb our fishing trip, and we pretty much laughed her off a few miles down the road as a grump.
The drive from Arnold to Boards Crossing Road is not very far at all. And for sure B Davis and I were pretty pumped to get the fishing line in the water, because this was the first time we had live crickets to fish with. In the past we had used pretty much everything else, but not crickets yet.
We started off walking down a good ways downriver to what is known as “The Gorge”. It’s about a 45 minute walk from the actual Boards Crossing, but once we got there, it was well worth the hike. Since the water of the Stanislaus is running so high right now.
Fishing With the Sun Shinning
On our first day of fishing, we met a girl at the local breakfast restaurant down in Murphy’s, California. And, since she looked like she might know something about trout fishing on the Stanislaus, we asked her what she would recommend. And of course, any
fisherman or woman has their own opinions on everything, but this girl told us you won’t catch any trout in the middle of the day. Well, that too was WRONG. We sure caught a ton of trout in the middle of the day. In-fact, all of the trout we caught from the Gorge was during the middle of the day when the sun was shinning pretty hard. Of course, after the long hike down the river, it might have been a better idea to fish later or just stay out of the sun for a little while longer, but we didn’t. The trout kept pouncing on the crickets so we just couldn’t stop. Brad even caught a German Brown Trout on a spinner, and that was his first trout on a lure EVER.
Speaking of fisherwomen, we ran into one of the best we have ever seen on all of our adventures trout fishing off Highway 4. There was a young girl maybe in her early twenties who was sitting down in a lawn chair in the shade with her fishing pole and book, who was absolutely nailing the fish. She was using salmon eggs and the trout were loving it. We noticed that in the span of about 45 minutes, she must have pulled in about 3 keeper trout, and eventually she got up and left with a string of 5 nice sized 12-14 inch trout for dinner. Congrats to her, and it was great to see trout being caught out of the Stanislaus on salmon eggs. We ourselves did not have any luck with using the salmon eggs however.
Catching Trout with Crickets:
There are a few things we learned about fishing with crickets to catch the trout. Here is a list:
get used to chasing the crickets around on the ground after you take one from the cage
Once you have one, hold it with two fingers(thumb and pointer) while you are hooking it
Hook the cricket in the thorax and than back through the neck
When the small trout nibble, relax and take a few seconds before you jerk the fishing pole
When the larger trout strike, you will know for sure
Keep the crickets in a cool place out of the direct sunlight
A “half tube” of crickets lasted two of us 2 full days
Don’t spend more than $4 on a half tube of live crickets
Use either a bobber or a few hooks to get the cricket presenting properly
When fishing with crickets, don’t freak out about the cricket juice that comes out after the initial hooking
Pictures of Rainbow Trout from the 2011 Stanislaus Fishing Trip:
Half Moon Bay, CA is located just about 1 hour south of San Francisco and it sits just off highway 1. There is a great local harbor called Pillar Point Harbor, which has a multi lane boat ramp, fishing tackle shops, several Charter Fishing Boats, as well as tons of seafood restaurants. The fishing can be excellent depending on the weather conditions and the time of year you plan to fish.
Boat Launch Ramp
The launch ramp at Pillar Point Harbor was constructed in 1996, and it replaced the very much outdated older launch ramp which was closer to the restaurants. There is ample parking for your vehicle and trailer, and there is also a very large over-flow lot which is just a few minutes walk away. On opening day of salmon season, you can expect to be parking in the overflow lot, as well on days when weekend fishing in the summer for salmon is red hot. There is a nominal fee to launch your boat, and there are also fillet tables and some water available to clean your boat afterwards.
You could expect on a very busy weekend like opening day of salmon season, or on a day when there is a huge amount of albacore fishing and moderate salmon fishing in the middle of the summer to have a 15-30 minute wait for others who are launching their boats in front of you. Otherwise, the chances are that you will be able to drive right up and launch your boat without any wait and with no delays in driving out to the fishing grounds. Probably some of the biggest amounts of time you will feel are wasted will be the motoring of your fishing boat from the launch ramp to the outside of the JAWS of the harbor. This takes about ten minutes on its own as this is a massive harbor to navigate through.
Salmon Fishing in Half Moon Bay
The good thing about fishing out of Half Moon Bay or Pillar Point harbor is there are many different spots to fish for salmon. There are places to the north, as well as several different spots to the south. This is good news because often you will be able to run north to a place like Pedro Point off Pacifica, and catch an early morning calm ride to the salmon fishing grounds, but by the afternoon when it is time to get back to the harbor, you will be able to ride the waves behind your boat and have it relatively easy getting in. This is sometimes the case as well for people fishing down south of Half Moon Bay, but for me at least, it has often been a harder run back to Pillar Point from the south.
Early in the year for the past few decades, the best fishing has been up around Pedro Point and often times in very close to the shore compared to being out 5-6 miles. The salmon seem to bite really well on trolling gear, whether you are using rigged sardines or anchovies, or hoochies and dodgers. The fish are usually in the mood to bite all sorts of things, as long as you don’t mind throwing back some shakers or small salmon.
If you are in the mood for walking around the fishing boats that are up at the harbor after your trip, you are in some great luck. The working pier which leads out from the harbor master’s office is Johnson Pier. It is big so you won’t miss it. There are several different charter boats which will be happy to take you and your family fishing, whether it be for rock cod, or salmon or sometimes albacore tuna if you are lucky. These Half Moon Bay Charter Fishing Boats are usually running on every weekend day, and many times during the weekdays when fishing is good. Be sure to call up and ask beforehand to make sure you are able to get on board one of those boats. One of the boats that has been fishing in Half Moon Bay for a long time is called the Huli Cat. This boat is 53 feet long and is owned by Tom Mattusch. There are several other boats as well, and you might be able to get on a smaller boat to make the long run for albacore if you do a bit more investigation into local charter boats in the area.
The local harbormaster’s office is a great resource to all fishermen in the Bay Area. They monitor V.H.F. channels 16 and 74 24 hours a day. The Half Moon Bay harbor website is: www.smharbor.com which also has much more local information.
Fresh Fish From the Dock in Half Moon Bay
If you find yourself fishing a full day in HMB, but you for some reason do not end up catching anything, you still might be in luck. The commercial fishermen in the harbor have recently begun selling fish from their boats, in a very organized way. There are actually posterboard signs at the end of each dock which list the boats and what type of fish they have to sell for anyone in the general public to purchase. All you need to do is show up when there is fish, and purchase whatever you want right from the people who caught it. It is a a great way to make sure you are eating fresh local caught fish at a reasonable price. There is even a phone number you can call up to find out what is available, it is (650) 726-8724.
Some more harbor pictures from beautiful Half Moon Bay:
Setting Up a Fishing Trip in Puerto Morelos could not be easier than a quick walk down the main square to the one pier in the town. Don’t worry on having trouble finding it, the town square is pretty small and everything leads to the beach so its never a problem for tourists. What you will probably notice if you are in search of a fishing trip is that there are several different types of boats to choose from at Puerto Morelos.
As for the fishing, this is an excellent place to get out into the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and try your luck fishing for marlin, wahoo, mahi-mahi, dorado, yellow fin tuna, and all types of groupers and barracuda and other fish. Most of the days, the crew who I spoke with down on the docks of the fishing pier said they catch several types of fish unless the customers want to target one specific fish. The most common methods of fishing are trolling either lures or live bait to catch the bigger fish. The bait of choice is either small mackerel or ballyhoo which are plentiful. The prices for chartering a boat range on the boats size. For the budget choice, the cheapest day of fishing would be to charter a panga. Panga’s are small open air fishing boats powered by a gas outboard engine. There will usually be one captain and one crew member on board the boat, and this can cost between $200-250 for 4 hours of fishing. Bait, tackle, and fishing rods are all included, and sometimes you can negotiate for lunch to be included too.
Some other fishing boats that can be chartered are definitely going to cost more money. The larger boats can be upwards of $750 for a full day, although they can accommodate more people, usually in the 5-7 person range. Below is a picture of one of the local fishing guides cutting up a freshly caught dorado in the 30 pound range. This is an excellent fighting fish and also a great fish to bring back to your hotel and have the chef cook it up for you and your family for dinner or lunch. This fish was caught on a lure while trolling just a few miles off the coast. The fishing conditions in terms of weather are usually very pleasant. There are expected daily winds of 10-15 miles per hour on most days during much of the year. The hurricane season does exist, so you should plan accordingly. For example, much of the region is very vacant from August until November due to the potential for very high winds. The rest of the year is excellent. The seas are very calm on most days with just a light wind chop of small waves that are no problem for the fishing boats to handle with grace.
Make sure to ask your fishing guides if you will need a license to go out fishing. There have not been many incidents of fishermen from the United States running into the Mexican police demanding to see fishing licenses, but it is possible, so your best bet is to check beforehand on whether that would be necessary or not.