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Berkeley: San Francisco Bay halibut go on a rampage!

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jun 04, 2019

BERKELEY — Halibut were chewing the paint off the bottom of boats throughout the San Francisco bay last week, and at times, the striped bass bite erupted. Salmon action was good during the week, then slowed by the weekend while rockfish were easy targets when the weather cooperated.

Bay fishing was truly awesome and improving. At Fish Emeryville, Andy Guiliano said, “For those who subscribe to May fishing as the precursor to summer action, sound advice is to clear your calendar and purchase a quality vacuum packer! Tough to ask for much more as fishing action across the board rated as a solid ‘A’. Bay halibut angling continued on a record-setting pace as fish counts hovered around a solid 2 fish per rod average. New Huck Finn continued to take high boat honors with a top score of 81 flat fish on Tuesday, with a ‘normal’ day in the 50 to 60 count.”

HALIBUT HOOK-UP — Joe Viscuson of Gridley fished aboard the Happy Hooker last week and caught his 21-pound halibut while they were drifting live bait on the Berkeley Flats.

Capt. Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sportfishing worked the Bay hard on his charter boat Top Gun, fishing numerous spots and finding excellent halibut fishing most everywhere. At times he found hot bass bites. Capt. Mitchell said, “We had limits of halibut on every trip until the weekend. If our clients didn’t get sick today, it would have been limits again. The bite has been stellar, and we have been overwhelmed by the number of new fish pushing into the Bay on a day-to-day basis. We plan to stick with this plan every time we hit the water.” Bass Tub from Fisherman’s Wharf hit the bass and halibut hard during the week before trying salmon Saturday. Then back on the halibut Sunday for good results.

Capt. Steve Talmadge on Flash I found a wild halibut bite on Berkeley Flats and stacked the deck with flatties on two consecutive half-day weekend trips. On one of those trips he ran southward and encountered a bonus bonanza in the form of a bass bite so strong the stripers were boiling and birds were diving on the melee. The boat had triple and quadruple hookups. Flash II had similar counts and levels of rapid-paced action. Capt. Talmadge said, “I’ve been fishing the Bay area for 40-plus years and this is the best season I’ve ever seen. Bass are showing up in bigger numbers too.”

Other nice halibut catches included a 25 pounder caught by Dr. Peter Morin on Reel Time out of Sausalito. Jim Schwerm caught a 22-pound halibut in South Bay aboard Lovely Martha out of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Berkeley Charter Boats sent New El Dorado III after halibut and had 45 halibut for 28 fisherfolk. Rashawn Jones had a 23-pound halibut while fishing off Treasure Island. Scott Sutherland reported that South Bay and Central Bay are both holding lots of halibut and that drifting with live bait is the way to go. Happy Hooker tallied full limits of halibut for 15 guys on Friday. Halibut counts dropped just a bit over the weekend, but bass counts spiked to limits. Pacific Dream with Capt. Chris Smith at the helm caught 48 halibut and 5 bass for 29 happy folks.

California Dawn had a fantastic week on both bass and halibut. Capt. James Smith reported 60 bass and 22 halibut on one trip, then 57 halibut and 33 bass on another trip and 37 halibut plus 22 limits of bass on a weekend trip. On Thursday the boat was chartered by Steve Carson and the gang from Penn University. The group got 60 halibut to 30 pounds and 14 striped bass.

Rockfish and lingcod trips were successful. From Fish Emeryville, Sea Wolf fished the Farallones Friday, scoring full limits of rockfish and lingcod. Coastal fishing improved with the arrival of live bait, with lingcod counts improving and halibut catches adding substantially to sack weights.

BEST BAY BITE — Capt. James Smith of the California Dawn said, “It’s been the best bite of halibut in the Bay since 1994,” and on a live bait trip on May 24, his 17 anglers caught 50 halibut and 10 striped bass.

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