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Berkeley: Historical halibut bite in San Francisco Bay keeps going!

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: May 22, 2019

BERKELEY — The most phenomenal halibut bite in memory continued in San Francisco Bay and some striper catches added to the overall count. Horrible weather outside the Gate limited fishing, but there was some intrepid salmon activity and nice fish caught.

Partyboats from Berkeley Marina went wild on the local halibut, with lots more fishing time than travel time. Boats like Happy Hooker, California Dawn and Pacific Dream were hitting around two halibut per rod and sometimes limits, with bonus bass on top of that. During the process, hordes of short halibut were released to grow some more. Joe Viscuso came over from Gridley to catch a 21-pound halibut onHappy Hooker. Andy Wasserman caught a 25 pounder Tuesday on Pacific Dream. Capt. James Smith on California Dawn reported a trip sponsored by Phenix Rods finished up with 30 limits of halibut (90 fish).

A WHOPPER HALIBUT was caught by Mike Rescendez of Hayward while fishing with Capt. Mike Rescino aboard the Lovely Martha out of Fisherman’s Wharf. The fish weighed 29 pounds, and flatfish are being targeted throughout SF Bay.

Such is a rare occurrence where a situation develops so infrequent and rare that stumps even the powerhouse information search capabilities of Google and Wikipedia. Perhaps other than a few “greybeards” or the lifetime public library employee versed in microfiche, would anyone find a comparison of the California halibut action anglers experienced this past week. ‘Limits’ and ‘Early Limits’ are words rarely used in this fishery, yet for the first part of the week they became the norm.

Monday, the onslaught began with the Pacific Pearl on a half day trip and the New Huck Finn reported in with early limits of halibut, a combined 40 limits (120 fish). On Tuesday the boats took it to a new level with a combined 42 limits for Pacific Pearl and New Huck Finn, with New Huck Finn breaking triple digits, landing 102 of the flatties. As the week progressed a solid 2 fish per rod held up, other than a couple of odd days where rain and southerly wind became a nuisance. Live bait was in abundance and of high quality, which helped the game tremendously.

Scott Sutherland at Berkeley Charterboats said their boats averaged 2 halibut per rod all week and limited out one day earlier in the week, emphasizing that halibut fishing is nothing short of incredible. The halibut seemed to be getting bigger, but the striped bass that came with them seemed to be getting smaller. El Dorado had 23 halibut to 18 pounds and 12 stripers for 8 anglers, during a very productive day of fishing Berkeley Flats. Garry Ferrel had a 22 pounder. John Chou got a 24-pound halibut on New El Dorado III.

Many other boats focused on the great fishing inside the Bay. On Friday, Bass Tub, from Fisherman’s Wharf, had 26 halibut and one bass for 21 anglers and then on Saturday surpassed that number with 24 halibut and 7 bass for 15 people. Flash boats and Lovely Martha also worked the Bay, piling nice big flat fish onboard for happy customers including Jim Sehwerm who caught a 22 pounder.

New Easy Rider made it out onto the ocean Saturday and caught 3 smallish salmon despite the rugged sea conditions. Dr. Hao from San Francisco got an 8 pounder at Deep Reef. Sutherland noted that Sunday trips were cancelled, and the winds were forecast to blow for a couple of days. Outer Limits from Sausalito made the intrepid trek through the Gate on opening weekend, took a beating but kept on fishing as long as possible, boating salmon to 17 pounds. Young Jimmy James Robertson, Junior, fished on his Dad’s boat Outer Limits to pull a 17-pound salmon in for the family. Capt. Jacky Douglas on Wacky Jacky didn’t fish over the weekend but faithfully provided WON with whoppers from the fleet. Her boat will be fishing when the weather improves, and anglers are encouraged to experience her fishing style.

ninetyhalibutNINETY HALIBUT REPRESENTS limits for all 30 anglers aboard the California Dawn with Capt. James Smith in the Bay during a May 14 Phenix Rod sponsored trip. “It’s been an epic season, to say the least,” said Capt. Smith.

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