Saltwater fishing has been slow, and the weather has been rough most days. This time of year, the ocean can be cold, rough and wet.
In Monterey Bay, the only fishing that might take place is for mackerel, sand dabs and crabs. A few boats have been going out from Moss Landing and Monterey and catching 10 sand dabs and 10 mackerels per person — if they work at it.
The crabbing report in Monterey Bay remains grim — fishermen are lucky to get one crab for every two traps. Crabbing in Half Moon Bay has been fair, with an average of two or three crabs per trap. The good news is that commercial crab fishermen are bringing fresh Dungeness crabs to the docks.
Freshwater fishing has offered a few better opportunities for anglers willing to brave the weather. The San Lorenzo River opened to fishing for steelhead Dec. 1. There might be a few small half-pounders in the river, but it needs rain to increase flows and bring in the big boys. The Eel, Smith, Klamath and Trinity rivers are all in transition as salmon season ends and steelhead begins. December is a great month to fish for early steelhead in these rivers, as the crowds are light and the fish are fresh.
Lakes and reservoirs are low, and the fish-to-water ratio is favorable. Bay Area lakes have started to receive stocks of trout as water temperatures cool. Most of the reservoirs are too low to launch boats, but that doesn’t mean the fishing is bad.
San Luis Reservoir and the O’Neill Forebay have been good bets for striped bass. The key to success there has been to fish in the early mornings and late afternoons when the winds are light. The best techniques for striped bass have been surface plugs, jigging spoons or fishing anchovies for bait.
In the Mother Lode, Lake Amador has kicked out some massive stringers of trout. Anglers there are catching limits to near-limits of trout with fish from 1 to 6 pounds. Lake Amador is a hot bet and should remain good throughout the winter.
Happy holidays — I hope the New Year brings big fish!
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.