Rockfish Season Below Pigeon Point Opens with Superb Fishing

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This fisherman bagged this beautiful lingcod during a trip on the Chubasco out of J&M Sportfishing in Monterey.
Photo courtesy of J&M SPORTFISHING, Monterey.


The rockfish season below Pigeon Point on the San Mateo County coast opened on April 1 with top-notch fishing for Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and Monterey boats.

“We experienced really good fishing in the waters below Pigeon Point,” reported Sherri Ingles of the Half Moon Bay Sportfishing Center. “The Queen of Hearts returned with full limits of rockfish and 2 lingcod for 33 anglers. The Riptide came back with 17 limits and 1 lingcod.”

“Anglers hooked lots of 4 to 5-pound yellowtail rockfish,” said Ingles. “The fish were biting around 80 feet deep in 150 feet of water. Many fishermen were pulling them in two at a time. Anglers used mostly shrimp flies, tipped with squid, for the fish.”

“The water in this area also looked decent for the salmon opener,” she noted.

She also noted that the Que Sera Sera, a six-pack charter boat, and the New Captain Pete, will also be booking rockfish and salmon trips out of the shop this season.

Ingles said that the regulations this year are back to the 2017 regulations, with anglers able to fish down to 300 feet (50 fathoms) below Pigeon Point and 240 feet (40 fathoms) above Pigeon Point. “These depths are along the contour lines,” she noted.

The groundfish season above Pigeon Point opens on June 15 – and the boats out of the center will be fishing the areas closer to the harbor starting then.

She also said she is waiting for the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s official approval of the increase of the canary rockfish bag limit to two fish (now just one), since this formerly “overfished” population has been rebuilt.

The 2019-2020 rockfish regulations will also be approved at the April PFMC meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Boats out of Santa Cruz experienced solid rockfish action in the deep water near Wilder Beach and Davenport.

“The inshore bite was good for keeper lingcod and vermillion near Natural Bridges,” said Todd Fraser at Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz. “There were a few halibut caught by anglers trolling and drifting squid near the Mile Buoy. The smaller halibut and striped bass are being caught near Capitola and Manresa. The wind stayed down all morning and some anglers were in early with limits of rockfish.”

The Monterey charter boats weren’t able to get down south to Point Sur because of wind on the morning of the opener, but they were able to find rockfish and lingcod success in the local reefs.

Out of Chris’ Fishing Trips, the Star of Monterey returned with 25 lingcod and limits of rockfish for 26 anglers on April 1. The Checkmate checked in with limits of lingcod and ¾ limits of rockfish for 26 anglers, while the Caroline came back with 18 lingcod and limits of rockfish for 20 passengers.

“The wind was up in the morning,” said Troy Stokes of Chris Fishing Trips. “We tried fishing at the Carmel Highlands first, but the water was cold there and there wasn’t much action, so we fished the local reefs.”

“Anglers caught a mixture of yellowtail, blue, vermilion, copper, bocaccio and canary rockfish while fishing off Point Joe and Cypress Point. They did best tossing out hardware and jigging shrimp flies, with no bait on them. There isn’t any squid in local waters now,” Stokes explained.

Katlyn Taylor at J&M Sport Fishing, also in Monterey, reported great fishing on the rockfish opener. The 22 anglers aboard the Sur Randy landed limits of good quality rockfish and 7 lingcod, while the 38 anglers on the Chubasco nailed limits of rockfish and 27 lingcod.

“One of the anglers shook off a salmon, a good sign for the salmon opener,” Taylor said.

The Kahuna sportfishing boat out of Moss Landing remains in the boatyard.

“We will not be back in water for the rockfish opener April 1,” said Carol Jones of Kahuna Sportfishing prior to the opener. “The work on the boat is getting close to being done, but we don’t have a date yet. We will keep you informed.”

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 7 from Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The season in that region, including both the Monterey North and Monterey South management area, will be open to fishing for all salmon except coho, with a limit of two fish per day. The Chinook minimum size limit will be 24 inches total length; and the same gear restrictions will apply as in 2017. However, this fishery may be modified at the March Council meeting, according to the PFMC.

The recreational salmon fishery will remain closed in all other areas off California during the month of April.

This angler shows off a hefty cabezon caught on a flat calm day down the Monterey County Coast aboard the Kahuna sportfishing boat in December 2017. Photo by CAROL JONES, KAHUNA SPORTFISHING, Moss Landing.