Starting to feel like summer around northern California and both the weather and the fish are agreeing. Big improvements on the bite inshore and getting offshore was a lot more possible this week.
Exciting week in Bodega Bay with Killer Whales, Salmon Sharks and Chilli Peppers
On wednesday we took 4 clients out in search of Chilli pepper rockfish. Left the dock with flat calm weather and powered out at 26 knots to the chilli grounds. On the way offshore I noticed the unique sight of an Orca dorsal fin and swung in to check it out and rolled up on a pod of 15 orcas trying to separate and kill a humpback calf from its it’s mother. It was one hell of a show and orcas put up a hell of a showdown but eventually the humpback and calf slipped off into the depths away from the orcas.
After the 30 minute live nat geo episode we headed west and loaded down on good grade chili’s with a few Greenspots and redbands in the mix. After getting near limits for clients and crew we headed west looking for Black cod, right of the batt we hooked 6 of them. ( For those wondering they taste like scallops with a soft texture, another top tier deepwater fish) After about 20 minutes of fishing cod, a estimated 10ft long 450lb salmon shark took our 16/0 pacific halibut hook and took us for a ride, after a solid 25 minute fight the 100lb line snapped after getting a quick look at the beast along side the boat. We headed in and grabbed a few more chilli to close out limits then headed for home
On Thursday we had 3 clients and spent most of the morning exploring new terrain all along the continental shelf. We managed to find a mix of yellows, vermilion, canaries bocaccios and green blotched. Rock fishing was hot so we limited fairly quickly trying to target better quality fish using larger 10/0 hooks. We searched for lings in the same new terrain without much luck and did some more exploring with no great results. Ended up bouncing down tword rittenburg bank and found a fleet of nearly 50 boats all in one small area, we pulled one Ling, but the mass amount of fishing pressure had shut the bite down by mid day unfortunately and we were out of time to keep exploring. We picked up a petrole sole and headed home cruising in at 28 knots with not a bump on the ocean.
On Friday we started off the morning heading to the chilli grounds on a pretty calm ocean with a little wind chop, tried a few new spots with little success and headed deeper to find a slow pick on chillis and pulled a few 6 to 8lb vermillion as well.
Tried a few spots in the 600 to 800 range and got about half a limit and fought some gear issues and had a lot of small dogfish shark which tangled our gear severely. By noon, the ocean started to really flatten out, and the wind chop died down to nothing. After seeing a few salmon sharks cruise by the boat in different spots, we threw decided to throw a mackerel and hooked into this one about 5 feet off the rail, after knowing how crazy they can be after hooking the last one, I pulled the boat away from the fish and wore it out. It took a deep dive down to 650 feet and we slowly eased it back up. After an hour long fight, we gaffed and tail roped the 9 foot long and estimated 375lb to 450lb beast. We immediately gut and bled it to preserve the tasty meat( taste like mako shark or sword fish, similar to a pork chop in texture). Pretty exciting fight, especially on fairly light tackle with 100lb test line.
After cleaning up, we went back to chili fishing and found the bite had turned on very well and the fish were 200 feet off the bottom and quickly filled our limit plus a few for crew in just 2 drifts.
Got back to the dock and chopped the beast up. Clients walked with nearly 150lbs of salmon shark and 50 chilli’s, and They gifted me a small peice of salmon shark to try. I marinade it in water with one teaspoon of lemon juice per lb overnight( to remove any bit of blood which gives all sharks a foul taste) then breaded and fried it in butter along side some chilli and it was great. Definitely a top tier tasting fish and a new flavor to add to the freezer in the future.
Tomales Bay Halibut Fishing Report
Capt. Josh fished for Halibut on with 2 clients on thursday for one fish.Overall tough day and halibut dinner had to be earned.
With the better tides and warm weather, the halibut bite turned on for Saturday. Capt. Josh took out the same 2 clients and landed 5 nice halibut (limits for clients plus one crew fish) and release a few undersize fish. Bite was hot and hopefully marks the beginning of the good fishing season inside the bay we have been waiting for.