The weather has been mild, and fishing continues to be fair for both freshwater and saltwater fish. The ocean has drawn most of the local interest, with albacore, halibut and rockfish. Freshwater spots are producing some action on bass and sunfish.
Private boaters and charters out of Santa Cruz are focusing on rockfish, lingcod, halibut and albacore when the weather is calm. Rockfish and lingcod have been caught from Lighthouse Point to Davenport in 60 to 120 feet of water. Black rockfish have been the primary catch, and boats heading to Franklin Point have mixed some large lingcod into the catch. Halibut remain elusive — they require time and experience to catch. But some halibut have also been taken while anglers target rockfish or lingcod.
“This year, we have been catching a lot of big black rockfish and yellowtail rockfish,” reported Ken Stagnaro aboard the Velocity.
The types he mentioned are schooling rockfish, found above reefs. Shrimp flies tipped with squid work well to attract their attention, and when the fish bite, anglers can catch them at a fast pace.
Note that rockfish and lingcod fishing closed Oct. 1 north of Pigeon Point — anglers should read the regulations before venturing out.
Albacore is an entirely different fish and must be caught offshore in the warm water. This year, the warm water has been 50 miles out, and the weather has been good one or two days a week. The good-weather windows are hard to come by, but calm seas are essential for pelagic species. Private boaters are catching 10 to 30 albacore, and charter boats have had some high scores, also.
Trolling and drifting live bait is the common technique for albacore. This year, anchovies are hard to come by, so some boats are trolling lures but are still catching plenty of fish.
Freshwater fishing has been a decent choice for the kids. Loch Lomond is producing bluegill and an occasional bass for anglers who are willing to walk the shore to find hungry fish. West Lake Pond, on the upper west side of Santa Cruz, has kicked out plenty of bluegill for boys and girls younger than 16. A few small bass have been caught at West Lake, as well. The trick here is using weedless lures to avoid moss.
Have fun if you head out to fish, and enjoy the fall weather.
• 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 15 years. Contact him at [email protected]. He also hosts a fishing show on radio station KSCO (1080) from 7:06 to 8 p.m. Thursdays April through September.

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