Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby
by Allen Bushnell
Many anglers from the Monterey Bay area and well beyond are looking forward to this weekend’s Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby. This is the 15th Annual benefit event, raising funds and awareness for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. But mostly, it’s for fun, family and fish! The Perch Derby has become a centerpiece in the greater fishing community of Northern California. The original conception came from Captain Mike Baxter in 2004, who planned the event for “something to do when there’s nothing to do.” In other words, to fill the flat spell of mid-winter when seasons are closed, or fish aren’t around. The Derby also is a harbinger of Springtime. And, spring is the season when ocean fishing takes off again.
The season for rockfish, cabezon and greenlings (RCG Complex) opens April 1, 2019. Boat-based anglers can resume pursuit of these abundant and delicious fish. Currently, shore anglers are allowed to try their luck for the RCG fish, but everyone knows the big ones are waiting to bite on the reefs and rocky areas from 30 to 300 feet of water. Also notable is the salmon season opener, scheduled this year for April 7.
A few years of decent rainfall has resulted in better abundance projections for salmon in our area, and along most of the northern California coast. The Pacific Fisheries Management Council has predicted 379,632 Sacramento River system salmon are currently in the saltwater this year. This is a marked improvement from last year’s projection of 229,400 fish.
Michael Coats from the Golden Gate Salmon Association reports, “The reason for the uptick in this year’s salmon forecast is directly linked to the better Central Valley river conditions during the very wet spring of 2017. Increased natural runoff from rivers in the Central Valley always boost salmon survival, as measured two years later when the fish return to spawn as adults.”
And, we are definitely seeing proof of that forecast as anglers have reported incidental catches of king salmon over the past few months. “The fish are out there,” according to Ken Stagnaro from Stagnaro’s Sportfishing and Whale-Watching Tours. He reports, “We have caught some salmon on our sand dab trips over the course of the winter. There has been some bait out there that was scattered by the storms. We’re seeing a few bird works here and there, and water temps look good. So, yeah, we have high hopes for this year’s season. We put a few fish on the hook this winter that we released. And, they were all nice fish. Keepers.”
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