Northern CA Saltwater

Halibut climb into Santa Cruz, San Francisco Bay Boats

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: May 16, 2017

Salmon, halibut bite for Santa Cruz trollers

SANTA CRUZ — Limits of salmon were possible for determined Santa Cruz anglers last week, and halibut were also available, which added to the popular target list. Boaters heading up the coast tore into lingcod and rockfish. Shore fishers got perch and a few striped bass.

John Maggini joined Mike Baxter aboard Mike’s boat, Skookum for a day of salmon fishing and the pair was able to catch their limit of the shiny fish. Baxter said, “We fished straight out of Santa Cruz Harbor, found a few bait balls in 180 feet of water and circled an area where we got bites from 90 to 120 feet down using a flasher and white hoochies.” Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz said he heard of salmon coming from the Soquel Hole and from the 3 Trees area about 5 miles up the coast.

Spots up the coast also produced good catches of rockfish and lingcod for party boats. Accessible areas from Natural Bridges all the way to Davenport produced good fish counts with red fish being an increasing percentage of the catch.

Closer to home, halibut fishing improved. Fraser reported that “Megabite Tom” pulled 2 halibut right out front of the harbor. That monicker belongs to Capt. Tom Dolan on the 6-pack boat Megabite who saw his passengers catch 2 hefty halibut right out front of the harbor and then head up the coast to add significant catches of rockfish. There was also a nice keeper halibut taken from a rental boat right outside the edge of the kelp off of Capitola, according to Ed Burrell at Capitola Boat & Bait.

Pier fishers at Capitola had a couple of close encounters with striped bass in the surf zone, but no keepers were reported. Anglers fishing about midway out on the Pier caught some pile perch which were hungry for soft-shelled sand crabs and pieces of shrimp.

Halibut bite for San Francisco Bay boats


WON Staff Writer

BERKELEY — With weather raging outside the Gate and salmon not reopening until May 15, a continued great halibut bite was just what the fleet needed to keep the fishing going successfully. There were some large flatties caught in Central Bay and South Bay. Occasional forays outside for rockfish and lingcod racked up good catch counts.

happyhookerhalibutHAPPY HOOKER HALIBUT — The Happy Hooker fished the Central and South Bay on Saturday with 21 passengers who drifted live anchovies for 12 legal halibut, and plenty of shorts that kept the action going but had to be released.

California Dawn stacked her decks with halibut tiles, scoring 35 halibut to 25 pounds and 5 striped bass while fishing the South Bay. Capt. Mike Verrone serving as deckhand on the Cal Dawn caught a 32-pound halibut in the South Bay. Tony Beneveueto caught 3 halibut with the largest weighing in at 25 pounds. Jerome Camp got a 20 pounder.

On a Saturday trip aboard Happy Hooker with Capt. Jonathan Smith at the helm put 12 halibut aboard for 21 people. The fish were a nice grade. Capt. Smith said, “We’ve got the best halibut tides in May coming up this weekend.” Sounds like more and more flatties will slap the deck of the Happy Hooker.

Early in the week the live bait trips fishing San Francisco Bay were landing around a halibut per rod, with an additional 5 to 10 striped bass per day. As the week went on the minus tides and wind dropped the scores to about a combined fish per rod. High boat was New Huck Finn with 26 halibut and 7 stripers for 24 anglers. Joe Trujillo took the big fish of the week, a 36-pound halibut aboard New Huck Finn.

A LUNKER, 36-pound halibut was caught on Sunday, May 14, aboard the New Huck Finn by Joe Trujillo of Lathrop while drifting anchovies in San Francisco Bay. It’s the biggest we’ve seen from the Bay to date.

Rockfish boats scored limits of rockfish and lingcod fishing the Farallon Islands Wednesday and Thursday. The offshore weather didn't cooperate the other days. Other boats making successful runs were C Gull II,Sea Wolf, New Salmon Queen, Tigerfish and Wet Spot. Andy Guliano at Fish Emeryville said, “Salmon reopens May 16. Captains are optimistic the spring winds have brought about the much needed nutrient rich upwelling for productive spring and summer fishing.” has daily fish scores, trip updates and 24/7 reservations.

Scott Sutherland at Berkeley Charter Boats said, “We ran a few halibut trips with mixed scores. Monday and Wednesday we averaged over 2 fish per person. Friday and Saturday we had 6 to 8 fish per boat with 12 people aboard. We mostly fished the South Bay and around the Bay Bridge.” Jimmy Farar got a 32-pound halibut on Golden eye 2000 at Alameda. Ivan Garcia caught a 28-pound halibut on El Dorado off of Treasure Island.

New Easy Rider made a trip to the Farallones resulting in 40-pound sacks consisting of 26 lingcod to 25 pounds, which was limits for all. Randy Zumwalt had a 25-pound lingcod at Fanny Shoals.

Most Bay boats had successful halibut trips. Bass Tub sent every passenger home with a keeper halibut early in the week, than on Sunday posted 13 halibut to 17 pounds and 4 bass to 6 pounds for 14 anglers. Andre Shinero caught the 17 pounder. It was beautiful weather and great fishing according to Capt. Aaron Anfinson.

Capt. Jacky Douglas on Wacky Jacky watched Lovely Martha come back to her Fisherman’s Wharf Berth and said, “I watched him come in after spending a half day in San Francisco Bay. Talking to the fishers I saw Matt Zidek and Dave Griffith holding up their catch of halibut. It was fun!”

laurenslimitLAUREN’S LIMIT — Lauren Breault joined a charter aboard the New Huck Finn of Fish Emeryville and caught her limit of halibut while fishing inside the Bay. PHOTO BY BILL NAKAKI

A 30-POUND ’BUT was caught on the El Dorado II out of Berkeley Charter boats last week as the halibut bite heats up. Capt. Edward Gallia, right, helped out hefting the bit fish, caught by Roland Jefferies, only one of many landed that day.

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