Northern CA Saltwater

Berkeley: Salmon vie with halibut for San Francisco Bay area angler attention

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jul 02, 2019

BERKELEY — Salmon fishing improved outside the Golden Gate, and at times was as good as the halibut fishing inside the Bay. Boats fishing the Bay got both halibut and striped bass, and with nice weather and friendly seas, rockfish boats did very well.

At Fish Emeryville, Andy Guiliano said, “The 2019 Fish Parade continued as the month of June wound down, albeit with a different float leading the way. For the first time this year, king salmon moved to the forefront as anglers found limit and early limit-style fishing close to home.”

halibutheavenHALIBUT HEAVEN — Larry Nelson of Oakland, aka “The Legend,” is shown here with a halibut he caught using a live anchovy on the Pacific Dream while fishing with Capt. Chris Smith.

Early in the week, action focused off the San Mateo county coast. The Tigerfish, Sundance and Pacific Pearl all scored early limits of great quality fish. Fish averaged 8 to 14 pounds with the jackpot fish running close to the 20-pound mark. Late in the week action shifted to the Marin County Coast, but results remained the same with ocean bright salmon filing up the fish boxes. “Look for this action to continue as the Gulf of the Farallons is a food web of anchovies, squid and krill,” Guilano said.

With salmon fishing coming on strong, salmon boats had good passenger counts and great fish counts. Wacky Jacky, with either Capt. Jacky Douglas or Capt. John Dresser at the helm, wacked the salmon, along with other Fisherman’s Wharf boats like Bass Tub and Lovely Martha, which had early limits of salmon every day during the week, until the weekend. They were joined by Sausalito boatsSalty Lady, Hog Heaven, New Rayann, Blue Runner and Outer Limits, all of which piled salmon on deck for happy passengers. New El Dorado III from Berkeley Charter Boats also loaded up on limits of salmon. Paul McCoy Al Kada both hauled big 25-pound salmon over the rails of Lovely Martha on different days.

Fishing the Bay for halibut and striped bass was very popular and productive. Capt. Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing out of Fisherman’s Wharf took limits of bass on a half-day trip, fishing 40 feet down in 90 feet of water near the Golden Gate Bridge. One some trips, the Flash boats targeted halibut. Capt. Talmadge said, “I had a 17-year-old kid, his first-time fishing, came out with his grandpa. He caught a 23-pound halibut and a huge 44-pound striped bass. I offered him a free trip if he released that monster bass and the kid happily agreed. That big bass is again cruising the Bay.” 


THE BASS TUB took out Rick Louie from Chuckie’s Pride on Friday, June 28, and they threw some swimbaits and landed this nice striper in the central SF Bay. Capt. Erik Anfinson said, “It’s been wide open fishing and bass were crashing all over the surface along with the birds.”

Bass Tub owner Capt. Erik Anfinson reported limits of bass on basically every trip out, with over a fish per rod on the halibut. The boat ran a couple kid’s groups that did very well on striped bass. Even on Bay cruises, the crew was stopping on crashing birds and catching bass. This is going to go down in the record books as one of the best fishing seasons ever, at least until an even better year comes along.

California Dawn had better than a halibut and two striped bass apiece fishing around the Bay and especially near Berkeley Flats. A weekend score was 25 limits of bass and 35 halibut, with 175 undersize halibut released. Capt. Jonathon Smith on Happy Hooker reported getting better bass counts over the weekend, thanks to bigger tides. Halibut catches continued with an average size of 8 pounds and a weekend count was better than a halibut per rod. The Central Bay Rock Pile was the hotspot for bass and Berkeley Flats was the sweet spot of halibut.

Pacific Dream got between 1 and 3 halibut per person as a rule, plus some bass, fishing the same general areas. Top Gun skipper, Capt. Steve Mitchell had a steady pick at the bass and buts on ebb tides and the bite picked up steam as the week progressed.

Scott Sutherland at Berkeley Charter Boats reported limits of salmon every day on El Dorado, New El Dorado III and New Easy Rider until the weekend when they averaged about 10 fish per boat. Sutherland said, “Same thing happened last Saturday, then early limits again the next day. We’ll see what happens next.” Renowned angler Bob Swan from Vacaville had a 21-pound salmon on El Dorado just North of the Channe and Francisco Silva from New York had a 22-pound salmon on New Easy Rider at Duxbury. John Carpenter from Castro Valley had a 25-pound salmon on New El Dorado III near the Channel markers.

A LIVE ANCHOVY enticed this 25-pound halibut for Tom Usland of Clarksburg while fishing a private boat off Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

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