Let’s Go Fishin’: Whales and red tide
by Mike Baxter
Oct 03, 2013 | 2230 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A humpback whale seen from a whale watching boat. Courtesy of photo
A humpback whale seen from a whale watching boat. Courtesy of photo
slideshow
A humpback whale seen from a whale watching boat. Courtesy of photo
A humpback whale seen from a whale watching boat. Courtesy of photo
slideshow

Most people associate fall with the darkening of leaves on the trees. The past few years the inshore waters of the ocean have made color changes in the fall with the arrival of red tides. Humpback whales have also made a late season showing right outside Capitola.

The red tide is not uncommon, but is usually associated with the summer months. This fall, it has bloomed in the tidal waters along the north side of Monterey Bay. The red tide, coupled with massive amounts of anchovies, has even created a die-off with some inshore fish. The lack of dissolved oxygen and semi-toxic tide can create a fatal environment for these fish.

The whales don’t seem to mind a little red tide as they feast on the small baitfish right outside the mooring buoys in Capitola. Small boats, charter boats, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are getting in on the whale watching action!

However, there are restrictions for approaching these giant mammals that are set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and agreed on through the International Whaling Commission. The boundary is set at 100 meters. If these whales come to you as you are at idle in a vessel not making way, then consider it a treat. Otherwise, keep a safe distance of 100 meters.

Local charter operations like the Stagnaro’s have been making several trips a week and encountering up to 20 different humpbacks on a given day. Whale trips have had a few types of dolphin sightings like Risso`s and Bottlenose along with other marine mammals and many types of birds.

Fishing in the Monterey Bay has slowed down. Albacore have been hit or miss and many more misses than hits.

Salmon season closes October 6, and was a great season here in local waters. Rock fish and lingcod continue to bite from Natural Bridges up to Ano Nuevo. Halibut fishing has been slower, and many anglers are already anticipating the crab season that will start November 2.

- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at captmikebaxter@yahoo.com.
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