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Berkeley: Crab and rockfish combos score heavily for San Francisco Bay boats

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: Nov 05, 2019

BERKELEY — Most of the San Francisco Bay fleet was ready for the crab opener and ran crab/rockfish combos over the weekend where the numbers were high, and the quality was good. Boats wanting to fish the Bay found halibut, bass and sharks to play with.

THE CRAB OPENER was fantastic, and the ocean floor is crawling with tasty. Dungeness. “One thousand, six hundred crabs today,” said Scott Sutherland of Berkeley Charter Boats on Saturday, opening day of season, when El Dorado and El Dorado III ran morning and afternoon crab traps and hauled in 160 limits of the tasty critters.

At Fish Emeryville, Amy Guiliano reported an overall quiet week as boats, captains and crew did final prep work for the Sport Dungeness crab opener. Then over the weekend, crabbers went all out and the sea surface was full of boats. Meanwhile, Sea Wolf did manage to take advantage of the calm fall weather mid-week, targeting rockfish and lingcod at the Farallones Islands. Action was predictably good, as it has been for most of the season with easy limits of rockfish. Lingcod counts averaged a fish per rod with swimbaits a decidedly top favorite. Over the weekend, Pacific Pearl, Wet Spot, Tigerfish and Sea Wolf scored limits of crab and rockfish plus a few lingcod for happy customers.

Capt. James Smith on California Dawn ran combo trips. On Saturday he said, “We fished the Farallones today for 30 limits of rockfish, 12 lings and 30 limits of crab. We were in 180 feet of water and it looks like it is going to be a good season for us.” Pacific Dream ran a crab only trip and pulled up easy limits of good quality Dungeness.

richmondharborRICHMOND HARBOR WAS the launch site for Michael Young and his dad, outdoor writer Pat Young, who fished in and around San Francisco Bay last week. Mike poses an 18-pound king caught by his dad and a limit of halibut and limit of stripers caught during the day. The ended with the salmon, two limits of halibut from 7½ to 14 pounds and two keeper halibut.

Scott Sutherland of Berkeley Charter Boats messaged that their combined count on the opener was one thousand six hundred Dungeness crab on El Dorado and El Dorado III. Both boats ran morning and afternoon crab-only trips. Sutherland said, “They are thick out there. Throw a pot in a flat area of the Pacific Ocean and these crab dive in. They are in 60 feet of water and 300 feet. Most boats are working along the Marin Coast. Jars of squid are classic baits but a few carcasses hanging inside never hurts. Our morning runs averaged 20 crab per pot on a 7 to 8-hour soak. It’s gunna be a fantastic month!”

Reports were similar for boats out of Fisherman’s Wharf. Capt. Aaron Anfinson on Bass Tub had limits of crab and near limits of rockfish for the 23-person charter. After a 6-hour soak, the pots averaged 20 crabs per. Capt. Anfinson said, “I did catch a skiff going through our gear first thing this morning, so that did not help.” Lovely Martha was successful with 35 limits of rockfish, 4 lingcod and 35 limits of crab. They caught the crab in 125 feet of water using squid and mackerel on a 7-hour soak. The fish came from the Islands and they were jumbos.

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