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Dec 02, 2011


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Sean Van Sommeran

Danger ahead - shark, swell rear heads in Monterey Bay:
12/02/2011 01:30:45 AM PST

Allen Bushnell

Fish Rap

In addition to knocking down trees and cutting power for thousands in Santa Cruz, the windstorm this week made it difficult, even dangerous for anglers who fished or pulled crab pots. For some who tried anyway, the windy conditions were near tragic.

A trio of anglers launched from Monterey Harbor on Wednesday afternoon while local winds were hitting 25 knots, according to the Coast Guard out of Monterey. Their 13-foot dinghy flipped just outside the breakwater, leaving the occupants scrambling onto the breakwater. They were rescued by Coast Guard and Monterey Fire Department boats.

Since we're in cautionary mode, it's worthy to share that an unlucky kayak fisherman found himself launched out of his 12-foot kayak Tuesday while fishing just north of Pigeon Point.

Harry Pali, newly arrived from Hawaii and living in San Francisco, was fishing in choppy conditions in what he said was no deeper than 25 feet of water. He was struck by a shark directly below the cockpit of the kayak, which overturned.

"The impact felt like being hit by a car," he said, although he emerged from the water unscathed.

His companion witnessed the tail section of a large shark protruding from the water in a vertical attitude. The companion estimated he viewed "seven or eight feet" of the shark, though he did not see the dorsal fin.

The duo made it to shore safely and later measured bite marks at 18 inches across and 23 inches from the top to the bottom curve of the jaw.

Sean Van Sommeran from the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation has spent more than a decade documenting and tagging great white sharks in that area. He suggested -- and as an avid kayak fisherman I concur -- to not kayak fish the North Coast between October and March.

Dungeness crab are still the headliner in our area. Limits of meaty crabs are being caught daily in 140-220 feet of water. The best areas are near Soquel Hole or off the North Coast. The commercial season finally opened last week, so it can get crowded out there.

Skippers need to use careful navigation to avoid numerous buoys and attached crab pot lines. The best bet is to find an area clear of other buoys to drop your posts.

As Captain Jim Rubin says, "The crabs are all over out there."

Ed Burrell at Capitola Boat and Bait enjoyed some of the tumultuous surf over the past week.

"The perch bite really picked up," Burell said. "They like that oxygenated water just behind the surf zone."

Burrell is using sliding sinker rigs and using shrimp for bait. Customers are catching limits when the waves pound. He also reported that the white sea bass bite near Davenport continues unabated. Some of the fish are smaller now, and they are biting on whole squid near the bottom mostly, in 100-130 feet of water.

Fishing near the bottom has resulted in a good number of halibut caught in that area as well this week.

Bushnell can be heard with the fish report on KSCO 1080 AM Friday mornings at 6:45. Please send comments, questions and photos to scruzfishing@yahoo.com.



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