April 7 marked the opening of salmon season for most of California. Locally, as well as all along the California coast, this proved to be the best salmon opener in many years.
Our local anglers scored more than the usual number of shiny Chinook (King) salmon, fishing at the usual early season hot spots, including off the rock island near La Conchita, in the gap between the rows of oil rigs and off the lighthouse.
As part of my editorial duties for publications I write for, I’ve been in contact with landings, boat skippers and tackle shops throughout CenCal and NorCal. The story was pretty much the same wherever I called — just fewer than one fish per rod with the fish generally 8 to 12 pounds with an occasional 15-pounder.
That’s not bad for the opening week. We typically catch larger fish as the season progresses.
What makes the early season local action particularly sweet is that we don’t get a good run of salmon this far down the coast but every once in a while. We seem to have a decent season every few years and a banner year every eight to nine years. We’re due for a banner year, and this looks like it could be the one.
The season started out well, even though we don’t currently have large quantities of bait fish in our vicinity. The bait fish move around, and when the big bait balls move in along our local coast, I’m guessing the salmon fishing will do nothing but improve from good to great.
The interest and activity are gratifying. Anglers love to fish for salmon. During the week before the opener, I sold much of my salmon tackle inventory at my tackle shop, Hook, Line & Sinker at 4010 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, and a new order is arriving just in time to keep people fishing productively.
The two most common ways to fish for salmon is to troll or mooch. Lures and bait holders are the common things to slow-troll, and it is customary to run a flasher blade to imitate a school of bait fish. Mooching is light-line bait fishing while drifting or at anchor in an area where big schools of bait fish are milling about. Stop by Hook, Line & Sinker and we’ll show you how to rig up for salmon.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.