|Santa Cruz Boat Rentals
15 Municipal Wharf
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 423-1739
Fax: (831) 465-1986
24 wooden skiffs 17'
with 6 hp motors
Capitola Boat & Bait
|Visit their website for information on rentals and lots more.|
By Michael Harris
The New Year’s baby brings a new fishing season with him/her on the coast. What you might have thought is a rattle in baby’s hand is really the new Fish and Wildlife regulations rolled up in a scroll. Not everybody knows that.
Keeping informed of these regulations, if you go fishing, contributes to recreation, conservation, and your wallet. Fines can take some of the fun out of your days off. Santa Cruz is uniquely blessed with recreational access to the coastal marine environment, with the longest public wharf on the west coast, a harbor, and miles of shore. The Santa Cruz and Capitola wharves offer the only rentable motorized ocean skiffs in Monterey Bay. The Santa Cruz Wharf also offers larger “party boat” fishing trips, where you can stand up most of the time.
Keeping up to date has been a little confusing so far, with the California Fish and Wildlife website stating that new regulations are in effect for the year, but hasn’t known what they are yet, more or less--so just go by last year’s regs until further notice. The website does post the new 2011 sports fishing pamphlet, however, stating it has the most recent corrections. Yet again, a main notice on another page states that the 2011 rules have been postponed—use the 2010 rules.
Rule No. 1 to know is that if you fish in California you need a license, except on a public pier, such as the Santa Cruz Wharf. A fun thing to remember is that this exception stems from the evolution of Public Trust Doctrine over centuries that recognized piers as public commons where people drew sustenance and enjoyment. The result is that today if you fish from the Santa Cruz Wharf, for example, you do not need a license, but if you step onto the beach or into a boat, you do.
What can I catch?
With our varied rocky and sandy habitat offshore, what is commonly sought and found are rockfish, lingcod, and halibut. The first two are grouped into what is called the rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or RCG, complex. As best as I can make out, for boat fishing the season opens for these on May 1, according to both the 2010 rules and the posted 2011 rules. Lingcod is listed separately, even though it is in the greenling family, not cod. Regardless, its season is the same as RCG, May 1rst to Nov 15th. If you fish from shore or a pier, or spearfish, the season is open year around, except for lingcod, which is closed until May 1.
Halibut come in two species, California halibut and Pacific halibut. It’s important to know the difference because there are different seasons for each. California halibut is open year around. Pacific halibut opens May 1, just like the RGB complex. The length limit for a California halibut is 22 inches. The length for Pacific halibut is 26 inches. How to tell the difference? The easiest way is by the tail. I call it an out-dent vs. an indent. A Pacific halibut tail is forked; the center forms an indent. A California halibut tail has a bulge at the middle, it forms an “out-dent.”
All the other flatfish you might snag are open season year around, such as sanddabs and sole. Surf perches are also open year around, as are mackerel, sardines, jacksmelt, and seabass. Sharks are open year around, excepting white shark, which is closed year around. The one most sought after for eating is thresher shark.
Salmon is a story of its own, and I haven’t heard of a season for it yet. “It” means Chinook salmon, coho salmon are off limits year around.
So, storming is supposed to wind up this Saturday and the sea should start being fun to be out on from now on. Early mornings on a calm ocean in spring are heaven. Give it a try, or a new try.
For more information, check the Fish and Wildlife website.
For information about protecting seabirds from fishing line and hooks click this link Native Animal Rescue