We have the salmon, rockfish or nature trip you are looking for!
The Half Moon Bay area is traditionally one of the best areas to fish for king salmon off the California coast. Boats from this port have the opportunity to both go north to the Farallon Islands and Golden Gate area, or they can south to as far as Pigeon Point, New Year's Island or Davenport.
Historically the San Mateo County coast has been one of the hottest area to fish for salmon in the first few months of the season. The rich waters hold krill, shortbelly rockfish, anchovies, sardines and other forage that the big kings feed on. During a typical season, there are usually more salmon early in the season, averaging 8 to 15 pounds along with an occasional "slug", with fewer but bigger fish available later in the season.
Limits of quality salmon, consisting of two fish which typically must be at least 20 or 24 inches long, are the rule when the bite is going strong (the minimum size for the 2019 season will be 24 inches in April but is still being determined for the remainder of the season).
The salmon season along the Bay Area coastline typically runs from April into October or November, as determined by the regulations set by the federal and state fishery management agentices. The final decision regarding the remainder of the 2019 season will be determined by mid-April.
Half Moon Bay Sportfishing offers both coastal rockfishing trips as well as shallow water, light tackle ("SWLT") rockfishing trips. Beginning with the 2017 season, fishing off our coastline can take place to as deep as 240 to 300 feet depending on the location where we are fishing, giving us added opportunities we haven't had for over a decade.
Our SWLT trips specialize in offering fishing water as shallow as possible depending on conditions along the San Mateo coastline from Montara in the north to Ano Nuevo in the south. Depths are typically well below the maximum 240 feet depth to as shallow as 10 feet at times; the average usually runs between 40 to 60 feet. Keep in mind this is the measurement between the bottom of the boat and the ocean's bottom, not where the fish may be suspended. When conditions permit, anglers revel in the ability to use their whimpy little freshwater trout rods with spinning reels and freshwater bass rods with baitcasters normally foreign to typical ocean fishing. We recommend 12 to 15 pound test line, but the range goes from as little as 8 pound test to the heaviest running about 20 pound. The idea is to use as light of tackle as possible depending on conditions to have the most fun and best sport possible. We always encourage anglers who have their own gear to bring a couple of outfits, one for the shallows and the other when we're fishing the deeper end of the spectrum. The light gear should be something in the range of a fresh water bass rod, like a "flipping" stick with around 12 pound test line, and the heavier outfit a conventional saltwater rod in the 6 to 7 foot range with 20 pound test, give or take.
Whale Watching and Ecology
The majestic and intelligent California Gray whale is probably the best known of the great whales of the northeastern Pacific and the species most frequently seen on trips out of Half Moon Bay Sportfishing. Gray whales begin their annual southbound trek in September, going from their feeding grounds off Alaska to the lagoons of Baja, where they mate and give birth. This 6,000 mile journey is one of the animal kingdom's most impressive migrations and you can witness it right here off of Half Moon Bay!
The majority of southbound migrating Gray whales leave the Bering Sea in groups somewhat segregated by age, sex and class. They swim along the North American Pacific coast during the months of November through January or early February. Some whales do not complete the southbound migrations, instead remaining off the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, or California. Aren't we lucky! The number of animals in these "summering" populations appears to be increasing, along with the growth of the population at large (around 25,000 gray whales in the North Pacific as of 1996).
Most of the migrating whales remain close to the coast, in water less than 100 fathoms (about 600 feet) deep. It has long been believed that most gray whale offspring (calves) are born in Mexican waters in and near the lagoons. But more recent studies have revealed that a higher than expected number of calves are actually born during the southern migration, as far north as southern Oregon.
The northward migration of Gray whales, beginning as early as mid-January, is shorter than the southward migration, and it occurs in two distinct waves or pulses. The earlier pulse includes a larger cross section of the whale population. The later, smaller pulse consists primarily of females and their calves.
We are also fortunate to see humpback whales, one of the most energetic whales alive. Known for its spectacular breaching, lobtailing, flipperslapping and singing. Breaching has been found to be more common at breeding grounds in warmer waters. They vary from a full leap out of the water to a leisurely surge with only a small portion of the body emerging. The whale usually lands on its back and the breach is followed by a violent exhalation from the blowhole. The most distinctive feature of a humpback whale is that the flippers are very long (nearly one-third of the body length). The black and white pigmentation on the undersides of their flukes is as unique as the human fingerprint. At birth, the humpback whale is 15-16 feet long and weighs in at 2.2 tons! When mature, they can top the scales at over 35 tons! The estimated minimum population of the California/Oregon/Washington humpback stock was 1,878 whales in 2008 and evidence is the stock has been growing and is well more than 2,000 individuals.
In addition to whales, many other marine mammals may be sighted on trips, while special eco-tours to the Farallone Islands can encounter great white sharks. Half Moon Bay is set in the middle of a robust ocean environment just waiting for you to experience. Let us get you out on the water!