Less than two weeks to wait, then it’s salmon season again in Monterey Bay. April 2 is this year’s opening, and we can expect the ports of Santa Cruz, Moss and Monterey to be quite busy in the meantime as anglers prepare their boats for launch. Charter boat fishing operations are sure to be booked for the opening weekend, as you would expect, but space may still be available on weekdays. If you are fishing from a private boat, now is a great time to double-check all your mechanical, electronic, and safety gear.
All signs are positive for the opener. It looks like a full season will be approved by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Salmon abundance projections for 2022 stand at 396,500 kings, well above last year’s projection count of 322,137 fish. And, we have received recent reports from anglers fishing for sanddabs near our Monterey Bay marine canyons of abundant bait and unintended bycatch of king salmon on sanddab rigs. All salmon caught before the season opens must be released, of course. The final extent of the salmon season this year will be determined during April meetings with various state and federal agencies. Low spawning numbers in the Sacramento River system last year could mean an easing of this year’s season. We’ll have to wait and see, as usual. April 2 to April 30 is guaranteed at this point, so many anglers will be hitting hard in the coming month.
Size and bag regulations remain the same as last year. The daily bag limit is two fish per angler per day. No more than two daily limits may be in possession while the angler is ashore. The Ministry of Fish and Wildlife warns: “On a vessel in ocean waters, no one shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily catch limit.” Silver salmon (Coho) cannot be caught. Caution and caution when releasing coho are advised in order to protect this endangered species. Study the fish identification again and release those fish with as little handling as possible. The best release is in the water without handling or netting.
While waiting for the start of the salmon season, don’t forget the surfcasting for perch. The coming weekend will provide excellent conditions for chasing barred surfperches from the beaches near Monterey to the San Mateo coast. Barred perch prefer a little wave action and the five to seven foot westerly swell predicted for the weekend will get sand crabs rolling nicely. Cloudy or overcast skies also seem to help with pole fishing. Don’t be afraid to cast grubs or bait if it’s raining, perch can become more active in these conditions. We continue to wait for striped bass to start biting along our beaches, but so far reports have only been sporadic. We could end up with a more striped year like 2021, when very few of these tough fish were caught throughout the season.
Allen Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak’s fishing and surfcasting guide service. Please send your reports, photos or questions to [email protected]