Jan 12, 2019

Not Waiting for Spring

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Hoping Everyone had a Happy Holiday Season and Wishing You A Very Fishy Year in 2019!!!

Come January, while many fisheries are gearing up for next season pursuits like striped bass or waiting for various fisheries to open, others appreciate winter targets.  Northern fishing lodges are long shuttered and somebody somewhere’s out there checking the ice.  Thinking back on the years, it’s clear that kayaks make the season longer for most fisheries where you don’t need an ice hut.  Beyond the Golden State, I’m seeing a lot of nice action along the Gulf for redfish and it appears, kayak bass fishing never slows for anything but bad weather.

 

Here on the California coast, we’re lucky to be able to fish for something every month in most years. Even when storms are frequent, the windows of opportunity add many productive days to the season.  Dungeness crab opened the first weekend of November here on the Sonoma coast.  Spiny lobster is open in the south and the bugs are crawling. That’s parallel to fishing for trophy lingcod and rockfish that stays strong until the last day of the year in our region, reopening again April 1st.

 

That said, it was a sensational fishing season on the Sonoma coast that started with a fabulous show of king (chinook) salmon that followed a dismal forecast.  Salmon were landed well into the Fall, a reminder for why salmon season is open until October every year.  We fished mostly baits on the troll and I only saw a few lead balls dropped as more kayak anglers incorporate descending planers and utilize downriggers.  Anchovies packed the nearshore for about 3 weeks and humpback whales put on quite a show scooping up the bait, nearly alongside the kayaks a few times.  Whale photo attempts were unsuccessful, the fishing was great!

The season-long onslaught of lingcod continued with guide Tommy Welborn taking home a few nice ones and releasing 15 more one day.  Lots of fish made it to the table for our guests and lots more were released.

So here we are in the first week of 2019 and rockfish is closed for 14 weeks or so.  In between ocean swells and rainstorms rolling off the Pacific, we still find plenty of summer-like days. We’ll harvest crab, fish the river (by kayak) for steelhead, gather mussels and clams and fish the coastline from the kayaks for perch with a chance of seeing something bigger like halibut or stripers..

Outlook-Parallel to Crab Trips, kayak fishing for steelhead on the Russian River is our other main pursuit for the next 3 months. Fishing for lingcod/cabezon/rockfish and The Coastal Kayak Fishing School trips will resume in April with crab combos offered through May.  Reserve trips well in advance with a small deposit at the site.  Trip deposits are fully and unconditionally refundable.  Salmon will open in April or June (it differs by coastal fishery region) and with last year’s surprise showing, we anticipate some good runs this season.  Salmon and steelhead trips require quick action for success and are booked “on call” with one to 5 days notice when the fish show up.

Contact us directly to go “on-call” for notifications. Like all our trips, you’ll learn what you need to know to tackle this fishery on your own if that’s what you are after, or just let the guide put you on the fish.

Come fish with us in one of the best kayak fishing destinations in North America!-   Lots of fish, eye splitting splendor and easy to get to.

We can fully outfit your fishing trip as needed.  Many popular fishing kayak models available including pedal drives.

Originally based in So Cal, I came to the Sonoma coast nearly 12 years ago from the Sea of Cortez near Cabo.  Simply stated, with lingcod/rockfish, salmon, dungeness crab and a lot more including endless freshwater opportunities, the Sonoma coast is one of the finest destination kayak fisheries in North America. This fishery is easily accessible too!  We get more guests on more quality fish here than we ever did on Baja’s East Cape. We catch different species in a completely different fishery with better results. In comparison, the number and size of fish from lingcod to salmon, the variety of species, lots of double digit fish and the sheer number of days we get to fish on the Sonoma coast continues to blow the minds of guides and guests alike.

Kayak fishing opportunities exist year `round in our region and like any fishery in the U.S., fishing regulations have a lot to do with it.  The only month(s) I missed in the past few years was due to a broken hand this past Aug/Sept.  Thanks to everyone who knew I was benched and doubled down on sending me pictures of their catches to make me “feel better”!  Thanks a lot.

Getting here is easy flying into San Francisco or Oakland (about 90 minutes away) and renting a car.  Quality camping and rreasonably priced lodging is available in Bodega Bay, Occidental, Jenner, Fort Ross and Sea Ranch.  With so much to do around here, you can have a great buddy or a family trip they’ll want to do again.  If you are into wine……..San Francisco to the south, Mendocino north, Napa…. but most folks keep busy as they want right here in West Sonoma County.

Late Update: The groundfish season has been extended from last year and opens April 1st in the SF region.  No joke!  The limit on lingcod is one fish per day (precautionary management action), canary rockfish is 2 per day. Overall, this is great news for a fishery that went from open year round to complete closure just a few years back. I don’t think anyone thought we’d likely see the fishery open 9 months out of 12 so soon.  That’s testimony to real progress in establishing a healthy, sustainable fishery.

Whack `em!

Spike