Tuesday, March 21 - Getting ready for the fishing seasons to start up again only 10 days from now! Both the salmon and rockfishing seasons open on Saturday, April 1. Here's the scoop on the changes/status of the seasons at this point: Salmon - The recreational salmon season will be open April 1 through April 30 with a two fish daily bag limit and a 24 inch minimum size. There's a federal fishery management meeting mid-April where the remainder of the 2017 salmon season, if any, will be determined. Best case scenario, the season will be open through the end of October. All the rain we received in California this winter should definitely give the salmon fishery a major shot in the arm within a few years, but at this point we're still dealing with reductions in numbers due to the years of drought we endured for several years. Rockfishing - Definitely looking forward to this year's rockfishing season. First major change is that we will be able to fish areas that have been off limits for over a decade. Off our immediate coastline we'll be able to fish out to around 240 feet (officially it is the "40 fathom curve"), which is 60 feet deeper than the past few years. For those of you who remember, there's an area about 7 miles away from the harbor called The Deep Reef that will be back in play...not all of it, but at least the inside edge. The quality of fish there could be significantly better, but we'll know real soon. We'll be allowed to fish that area beginning on Saturday, April 15. Between April 1 and 15, we can fish below Pigeon Point, about 18 miles south of our harbor. Below Pigeon Point we can fish out to around 300 feet (the "50 fathom curve"), again giving us access to a few key spots that we haven't been able to fish for years and years. A couple of other changes this year is that we will be able to keep one canary, those really pretty red rockfish that we couldn't keep for a long time, as part of our 10 rockfish bag limit. There is a subbag limit reduction of no more than 3 black rockfish as part of our overall 10 rockfish bag limit, and the limit of lingcod is reduced from 3 back to 2 lingcod with a 22 inch minimum size limit. Shop hours - Our shop is open 7 days a week from at least 8am to 3:30pm or 4:00pm. As of April 1, we'll be open by either 5am or 6am when our boats are running. Time to dust off your gear and let's go fishing!
I often get people calling and asking about what bait we use on our trips. So, here's the spiel and my soapbox moment for the day:
.....We do not use live bait for rockfishing. Why you ask? Do you catch any fish? Well, we have now owned the Queen of Hearts for over 20 years and have probably taken more people rockfishing over those years than any other boat in Northern California and probably more than most of the boats in the entire state. Over those years, we usually catch a combined total of more rockfish, lingcod and cabezon than any boat north of Morro Bay, and again more than most of the boats in the entire state. All of this is done WITHOUT using any live bait. The San Mateo coast is graced with great rockfishing, where limits of fish are caught daily more often than not.
.....Bob and I have always operated with the mindset of doing what we can to keep the recreational fishery thriving in our area for future generations. Bob has been actively involved in the fishery management process for just about as long as we've owned the Queen of Hearts, the last three-quarters of a dozen years or so serving on a federal committee that hashes out the management of groundfish along the entire Pacific Ocean coastline. It has been an unbelievable unending war to try to keep our right to be able to fish, with battles won and battles lost. By serving on that committee, Bob knows first-hand what is involved in the decision-making process. I do my best to try to explain what I see and hear to those I speak with on the phone, and those who come through our shop and read this website.
.....In our opinion, using live bait in our area for rockfishing will do more harm than good. And here's why: Rockfish tend to lunge at and "slurp" in live bait which more often than not lands the hook deep into the fish's gullet. Most people who have used live bait while rockfishing know this is true and will admit to it. The problem comes when/if that fish ends up being released. In order to get an angler's hook back, the guts of the fish are literally ripped out of the fish, and just about 100% of those fish die due to their injuries. However, rockfish typically bite differently when using artificial lures and those tipped with a strip of squid or a chunk of defrosted anchovy. The majority of the fish end up being hooked in the corner of the jaw or top of their mouth, allowing for release of fish without killing it...even though I'm sure they're going ouch, ouch, ouch as they swim back to where they came from. For those few fish that do get hooked too deep to live using lures, we do our best to educate folks to keep any fish that are not going to live. Fish thrown back that are considered dead count against our harvest totals just as much as fish that are taken home.
.....I could go on and on, but I'll stop. The bottom line is the more fish we save from being killed needlessly, the more we'll have for the future. And the more folks that understand that, the better chance future generations will be able to take their kids fishing, just like we've been able to. There is a time and place for using live bait (i.e., albacore, yellowtail, halibut), but as our longstanding record shows we don't need it to catch rockfish and now I hope it makes sense why. Oftentimes it's really tough to do what is right, but in the end it's worth it.
- These trips are currently on hold as we are waiting to see if the permit will be resubmitted for approval in the future. The Queen of Hearts previously had an "exempted fishery permit" that allowed us to take customers rockfishing under strick guidelines set forth in the permit in areas along the coast outside 900 feet deep. Check out the report and info I put together on our Chilipepper webpage at www.fishingboat.com/chilipeppers.html.
The deep water rockfishing trips are more or less be just like any other rockfishing trip, with a few major exceptions: We have to fish where the ocean is at least 900 feet or deeper. There is still a 10 fish rockcod limit, and all customers take home their fish. Any and all rockfish landed must be kept until boat limits have been reached. The hope is to be able to target rockfish such as chilipepper rockfish that are suspended in the water column, hopefully far from the actual ocean bottom. This is not a research trip; it's an experiment to see if we can fish a different area without catching any of the "off limits" fish...canary, goldeneye or cowcod. As long as the boats conducting these trips don't catch those off limits fish, this experiment will continue as long as there is interest for an initial period of one year. An official paid government observer will be required onboard all trips to keep tabs on the catch. The key to the success of this permit will be avoiding the canary and yelloweye rockfish that are labeled overfished and have forced us into the current restrictions we've been dealt. These trips could prove to be vitally important to give us more fishing opportunities in the future. If you'd like to be placed on an email list I've started to receive updates about deep water rockfishing trips as well as alerts when trips are scheduled, please let me know by sending me an email to email@example.com and asking to be added to our Deep Water Rockcod Trips email list.
Heard of "Dog Eat Dog World," but...: I've been meaning to post this video for a while...you've heard of a "dog eat dog world"...well, how about a "ling eat ling world"?....check out the video our daughter Marie took on a trip earlier this year by clicking the picture below or going to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz2A8uSPxKY. It could be a bit on the gross side for some to view, so fair warning, but it is pretty amazing.
FISHING REPORT ARCHIVE:
What happened to the older scores, whoppers and reports?? Well, just too much information to keep on one page! So we've created an "Archive" page. Click here to go to our Fishing Report Archive page. See the blow by blow, day by day rundown on the happenings on the Queen of Hearts for the entire 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003 seasons.
PRIVATE CHARTERS: We are proud that we have built a very strong private charter business for the Queen of Hearts since we started over 20 years ago. We have a top-notch boat and crew, we run a clean ship in more ways than one and take care of our customers, and it shows with the repeat business we are very grateful to have. Most groups now know that they have to call early in the year for the best dates, several months in advance. Saturdays book very fast. So, if you have a group thinking about a charter on the Queen of Hearts, don't wait to long to reserve a date!
When we talk about weather on the ocean, that's what we're talking about: the ocean, the wind and waves, not the sky. We're not referring to the sun or rain, or to how hot or cold it may be. The ocean in our area is usually always on the cold side. Always dress warm, regardless whether it's January or August: jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket with tennis shoes or rubber boots.
I always emphasize: you can't judge what's going on in the ocean by what's happening on land. And you can't always count on the weatherman. It's not what the sky does that matters; it's the ocean itself. We do our best to let our customers know if there's a weather problem. For those interested, one of the websites I check out for the marine forecast is at:
Our area is covered by the "Point Reyes To Pigeon Point to 10 NM" section of the report. Just keep in mind this is a "forecast" and it covers a large area; it doesn't necessarily come true but it can be used as a guide.
Since August 1, 2005, the Queen of Hearts has proudly worked out of our own shop, Half Moon Bay Sportfishing and Tackle! We're located in the shop that was formerly Captain John's, just to the left of the Ketch Joanne restaurant in the row of shops in the main parking lot at the harbor across from the pier and harbormaster's office. Everyone asks if we bought Captain John's boats. No, we didn't. One boat and one shop is enough for us! But we are now booking for the Riptide and Que Sera Sera in addition to the Queen of Hearts out of our shop. These boats represent some of the most experienced and longest running vessels in the harbor. We did take over Captain John's phone numbers, so if you have those numbers in your phone book, just change the name to Half Moon Bay Sportfishing, the home of the Queen of Hearts!
The great part about us owning our own shop is that we can finally provide the products and services we have always wanted to give to our customers. We are constantly adding items to the stock at the shop. We now have a large selection of Izorline in stock, the fishing line that we use on all of our fishing rods, both for the boat and our personal rods: First String Monofiliment, Platinum and the top of the line XXX. We have Xtratuf deck boots, an increasing assortment of plastics, diamond bars, as well as rods and reels including Avet, Diawa, Penn, Shimano, Shakespeare and Calstar. WE ALSO TAKE SPECIAL REQUESTS! Slowly but surely, we now offer all the basics that meet our customers' needs.
So, call or e-mail us for reservations. On the day of the trip, come directly to our shop, Half Moon Bay Sportfishing and Tackle to check in (look for the BIG yellow sign in the front window that reads "TICKET OFFICE") and pay for your trip (cash, debit, Visa and Mastercard accepted). The crew simply asks, as always, that you wait at the top of the dock until they have the boat ready for boarding. If you need fishing licenses, tackle and rent rods, no problem...they're all available at the shop. Just one more way the Queen of Hearts continues to strive to provide the best service possible to our passengers. So don't forget, to go with the Queen of Hearts, contact the Queen of Hearts and Half Moon Bay Sportfishing!