Umarex Gauntlet


Northern CA Saltwater

Fort Bragg: Limits of deep water rockfish

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Dec 31, 2019

FORT BRAGG — The rockfish and crab party continued for Fort Bragg boats that could handle the weather and seas while nearshore fishing and crabbing was limited, but productive.

Many Fort Bragg party, charter and private boats remained tied to the docks or sat on trailers. Commercial crabbers got out to make a living, and on some days winced at their bruises. Crabbing was good, so the payday was rewarding.

CAMO ON CAMO — A lingcod in front of a camo parka is pretty hard to identify, since both are the “ultimate” camouflage. Juan Manuel Essquivel Mercado from Fort Bragg caught his 12-pound lingcod off Casper while fishing aboard the Sea Hawk out of Fort Bragg.

Sea Hawk made trips throughout the period, putting people on fish and pulling full crab pots. Capt. Tim Gillespie said, “My crew and I have been very busy running trips almost every day. We’re getting limits around on the rockfish and it is only requiring one to two drifts. Fish are big vermilions, coppers, olives and a few bocaccios. After catching the rockfish, we’re limiting on crabs every trip out. It has been a strong season for us.” The regulation allowing unlimited depth fishing for part of the season gave customers incentive to jump on boats and the economic benefits are impressive.

Noyo Jetty was the reliable spots for shore-based crabbing and there were people lined up and casting crab snares baited generally with squid and anchovies, although some folks were more creative with their offerings. I’m not sure we even want to know what some of those snares were baited with, but the crab seemed to like it all.

Folks fishing hook and line did well, too, because the kelp greenling and black rockfish were plentiful and hungry. Other shore spots up and down the coast are less protected than Noyo Jetty, so very little fishing activity was seen at normally-popular shore fishing hotspots.

deepwaterrockyDEEPWATER ROCKY — Peter Riffel of San Jose caught his 8.5-pound vermilion in deep water while fishing off Casper with Capt. Tim Gillespie on the Sea Hawk out of Fort Bragg.

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