Two hurricanes located west of the Baja California coast sent a south swell into Monterey Bay this past week. The swell brought warm water with it and turned off the rockfish and halibut bites. But the warm water push did liven up the albacore action.
Inshore fishing takes a literal beating when the swell picks up. Most of the beaches in Santa Cruz face south, unlike traditional West Coast beaches that face west.
When the southern swells arrive, they roil the water. This moves the halibut to deeper water and slows down the bite for all ground fish.
Rockfish and ling cod continued to be caught, though in smaller numbers. Halibut fishing took a turn for the worse, as well. Striped bass fishing along the beaches had been very good and rarely slows down because of a swell, but even the striper bite slowed last week.
All these inshore fish and ground fish will be back on when the swell settles — huge schools of sardines remain in the bay and are the main food source for all these fish.
In Capitola, Ed Burrell confirmed the conditions from Capitola Bait and Boat: “We have had a great year on stripers, and (for) halibut, the counts were down today from the swell.”
Anglers had been catching stripers from the wharf and surrounding beaches using swim baits and live sardines.
Burrell also added, “We continue to see rockfish and ling cod come in, and the larger boats are heading in with 15 to 20 albacore per boat.”
In Santa Cruz, Ken Stagnaro reported, “We have had limits of rockfish on most trips. We are running half-day twilight trips, and we are fishing from the local reefs to New Year’s Island.”
All the trips taken have featured three-quarter limits to full limits of rockfish with a few ling cod thrown in.
Stagnaro also added: “We are running albacore trips on Fridays with limited loads and live bait.”
Most charter boats in Santa Cruz will be running albacore trips, so now is the time to make your reservations. I hope you have time to go catch an albacore this year — the warm water currents look good, and the number of fish out there looks great.
• Contact Mike Baxter at [email protected].

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