June 20 was the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. The ocean is a bit behind the seasons, though, as the warming trend and currents start to change along the West Coast.
Monterey Bay sees dramatic changes this time of year. Warm water currents start to move this direction and displace the cooler inshore water. Northwest winds and standard spring upwelling events take the back stage to a large body of water. This movement changes the faces of life in the bay.
The water has started to clear up, and swells have dropped. Krill are still found along the outer bay waters, and humpback whales are abundant and feeding on the krill.
Last year’s tremendous squid spawn has produced huge numbers of small juvenile squid that are now about 6 months old and a few inches long. Krill is a favorite food source for squid, and the plentiful krill seems to be helping the survival of cephalopods.
Rising temperatures help baitfish move into the bay and get rockfish and halibut active. The warmer water has also started to move salmon toward waters north of Monterey Bay, but new fish could continue to arrive. The food chain is in full swing.
Perch fishing has tapered off, while striped bass fishing has heated up along the beaches from Capitola to Moss Landing. Most believe these striped bass are fish that have migrated from San Francisco Bay. If so, most of these fish have completed their spawning cycle in the Central Valley rivers and are now cruising down the coast to our local beaches in search of food. They have a sweet tooth for sand crabs, and there are plenty of them along the beaches of the lower bay. Beach fishing for stripers is fun, and the surprise of a striped bass is exciting.
Salmon might be slowing down, but rockfish and halibut are a good bet. Stripers on the beach are worth the walk, and there’s still a chance of a white sea bass showing.
The bay offers many fishing and whale-watching opportunities from the cliffs, beaches and local piers and on private and charter boats. I hope your summer plans include a trip to the ocean for fishing or sightseeing.
- 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 20 years. Contact him at email@example.com. He also hosts a fishing show on radio station KSCO (1080) from 8:06 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through the end of August.