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Northern CA Saltwater

San Francisco Bay boats work halibut, bass and rockfish during salmon closure

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: May 07, 2019

BERKELEY — Before the special salmon closure, fishing was on fire. Then on May 1 the focus had to shift away from salmon. Fortunately, San Francisco Bay boats had fabulous opportunities to catch halibut, striped bass and rockfish, while shore fisherfolk also had hookups with perch and stripers.

flattiesare400FLATTIES ARE IN the Flats off Berkeley, and that’s where Lee Fisher of Auburn caught his 22-pound halibut while trolling a frozen anchovy aboard the California Dawn with Capt. James Smith.


After a weekend trip fishing inside the Bay, California Dawn’s Captain James Smith simply reported an epic day. The target species of the day was halibut and they brought 57 of them, plus one bass, over the tried and true rails of the boat. Other Berkeley Marina boats like Happy Hooker and Pacific Dream did amazingly well. Capt. Chris Smith on Pacific Dream said, “We had a three-boat challenge Saturday between Pacific Dream, California Dawn andHappy Hooker. I took first place with 59 halibut and two bass.” Happy Hooker finished the day with 45 halibut and 3 bass for 26 anglers. Dylan Jiminez caught a 20-pound halibut. Halibut are spread out all over South bay and North Bay.


From Fishermen’s Wharf, boats worked the Bay with impressive results. While halibut counts had been good in recent weeks, the numbers soared once live anchovies were available at J&P Bait. Capt. Aaron Anfinson on Bass Tub said the live bait allowed them to fish deeper water, which made a big difference in counts. His 11-person charter group got 21 halibut and one striped bass. On Sunday the boat had a whopping 45 halibut and 11 striped bass for 22 anglers.


Counts on Lovely Martha showed the difference live bait made. On Thursday’s half-day trip with 8 anglers, 14 halibut and 1 bass were caught. Then on Friday with live bait in the tank, the number of halibut climbed to 20. Over the weekend the count was 22. All these trips were half-day trips and the numbers could be much higher on longer trips.


Andy Guilliano at Fish Emeryville reported that Bay potluck boats hammered the halibut and stripers all week as the arrival of live bait filled bait tanks and fish boxes. Tigerfish and New Huck Finn combined for 42 limits (84 fish) of stripers and 53 halibut to 21 pounds, fishing a variety of South bay locations. Pacific Pearl returned on a half day potluck trip with 18 halibut and 1 striper for 19 anglers. Sea Wolf scored full rockfish limits and 11 lingcod while fishing the Farallon Islands and along the Marin Coast. Guilliano said, “News from the Federal fishery managers was welcome, with the lingcod limit moving back to 2 fish and the sub-bag limit for canary to 3 and black rockfish to 4. Look for June 1st for those regs to take place.”


Before the salmon closure, the salmon fishing was nothing short of stellar. Limits were expected and taken aboard fabled salmon fleet boats likeWacky Jacky, Salty Lady, New Easy Rider, New Rayann and Outer Limits. Hopes are high that the salmon will stick around and be readily available after the break in the season. May 18 is when the salmon season opens again.


stellaractionSTELLAR ACTION — Fantail flatfish make up the scenario for 20 anglers who trolled the Berkeley Flats this past week aboard the California Dawn for 32 halibut to 17 pounds — a stellar day on the Bay!


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