2017 WHOPPERS: (15 lbs. and over in bold)
Thu., June 29 - Bobby Fong of Concord - 20 lb. lingcod - Deep Reef
Mon., May 29 - 10 lb. lingcod - Ritz
Sun., May 28 - 10 lb. lingcod - Deep Reef
Sat., May 27 - David S... of Atherton - 9 lb. lingcod - Pigeon Point
Fri., May 26 - Mark Ciccarello of San Jose - 12 lb. lingcod - Deep Reef
Thu., May 25 - Kevin Miu of Castro Valley - 11 lb. lingcod - Martins Beach
Tue., May 23 - Phil Leone of Fremont - 11 lb. lingcod - Martins Beach
Mon., May 22 - Chris Rico of San Leandro - 10 lb. lingcod - Martins Beach
Sun., May 21 - Daniel Antone of Windsor - 14 lb. lingcod - Martins Beach
Fri., May 19 - Spencer Palmer of San Jose - 9 lb. vermillion - Deep Reef
Fri., May 19 - LeiWei of Burlingame - 13 lb. lingcod - Deep Reef
Thu., May 11 - Cirilo Arvizo of Redwood City - 8 lb. lingcod - Deep Reef
Thu., May 4 - Willie Leung of San Francisco - 12 lb. lingcod - Deep Reef
Sat., April 22 - Samuel Velasquez of San Jose - 13 lb. salmon - north of Deep Reef
Fri., April 21 - Keith Leong of Santa Clara - 13 lb. salmon - south of Farallons
Mon., April 10 - Kevin Leung of San Francisco - 12 lb. lingcod - Pigeon Point
Wed., April 5 - Bill Dawson of Dublin - 14 lb. lingcod - Pigeon Point
Tue., April 4 - Aida of ?? - 13 lb. lingcod - Pigeon Point
Sun., April 2 - Carlos Amarillas of Sacramento - 6 lb. vermillion - Pigeon Point
Sat., April 1 - Cleon Javes of Sacramento - 14 lb. lingcod - Pigeon Point
Friday, June 29 - The ocean is still unsettled with some flat calm wonderful days and some windy rotten days mixed in. It's summer in Half Moon Bay which means gray skies and warm clothes with temperatures most days in the 50s and 60s, so don't forget your jacket and long pants...and leave your shorts and tank tops for when you get back home. The rockfish are still chomping, though, yielding limits to those putting their time at the rail of quality bottomfish and lingcod. Yesterday on Thursday a 20 pound lingcod topped the scales for top honors, and we had 18 lingcod to 12 pounds landed on Wednesday. On Monday, Capt. Bob called me mid-morning to give me the news that they caught not just one, but two, whitefish, one of my favorite eating Southern California fish that I don't think we've ever seen on the Queen of Hearts in the 25+ years we've had the boat. A very cool bonus has been the whales that have been on the fishing grounds, with pods of humpbacks and 70 foot plus blue whales giving amazing shows. The whales are cruising along the coastline, too, with humpbacks just yards off the beaches at Miramar just south of the harbor. Salmon have finally shown up in good numbers this week, too, with good numbers of quality fish being landed off the Pacifica area. We're primarily sticking with rockfishing but we have a couple of salmon trips on the books this month, and are running trips seven days a week. If you're looking to join us on a weekend, definitely plan ahead if you can. And last, but not least...congratulations to our crewmember Wally who is now officially Captain Wally having earned his Coast Guard captain's license. Wally has been working his way little by little into the wheelhouse of the Queen, and will be ready to take over when Capt. Bob turns over the helm a few days here and there in the near future.
Monday, June 5 - Good fishing today with limits of lots of large bolinas, coppers and vermillion, plus a bonus four keeper lingcod and several more undersized released, and back to the dock before 1:00 p.m. Forecast was more or less the same as it's been for the past week, but the marine forecast was far from accurate as has been the case a lot recently. Capt. Bob said there was a decent swell but the wind left us alone for the most part, allowing us to get to the deeper water that's been producing some beauties. Right now seems like we have to take the marine forecast with a grain of salt because local conditions have turned out better than the forecast has been calling for more often than not. Looks like we're in good shape for at least the next few days again...fingers crossed. We are going out tomorrow on Tuesday and have lots and lots of room available. If you'd like to join us, just come on down to the shop in the morning and check in by 6:15 a.m.
Sunday, June 4 - We cancelled our trips on Friday and Saturday because of the marine forecast, but the forecast didn't hold true and both days turned out to be fairly calm from the reports we received from other boats that went out. So, with more or less the same forecast again, we went out today on Sunday. We still didn't have the conditions that were forecast, but it was not a very nice day on the water and couldn't get out to the deeper water where we would have preferred to fish. We did end up with just about limits of rockfish for those left standing by days end, along with six lingcod and a couple of cabezon. We do see a change for the better in the forecast for this coming week, thankfully.
Friday, June 2 - Well, that good weather I wrote about in my May 19th update stuck around for about a week and then the wind started biting us in the butt again by Thursday the 25th, cancelling that trip, making for a downright rotten Memorial Day trip on Monday, and has kept us tied to the dock since Tuesday. In between we did have some great fishing off and on with more quality rockfish in the newly opened deeper water, and the lingcod were chomping, too. One of the best trips was a seven man charter who came with nothing. They used only the HMB flies and squid we provided. They all went home with limits of bomber rockfish and 6 out of 7 of them went home with limits of lingcod. Yep, all on flies. It's what's working the best, honest. We did have one really good fisherman who did excellent catching lingcod on big swimbaits, but he is really good at it. Like we always say, we all know you want to catch lingcod, and the crew who is on the water every trip knows what's working best. Your best bet is to use what they tell you has been working because they want you to catch your fish just as much if not more than you do. They won't steer you wrong. As far as getting back on the water, it's just a matter of the winds backing off as there really hasn't been much swell. The wind will calm down, hopefully sooner than later. Nothing we can do but watch the ocean forecast and make the day to day call.
Friday, May 19 - Finally the winds have backed off and it actually looks like it's going to stay that way for a while. Thank goodness. Low swells and light winds are forecast every day through at least Wednesday at this point, so hopefully this will stick around for a while. The 11 guys onboard today took advantage of the calming seas and boated limits, with Spencer Palmer catching an absolutely huge, scale verified, 9 pound vermillion. Heard I'm supposed to get a copy of the picture taken...sure hope so, and I'll share it if I do. Biggest fish of the day was a 13 pound lingcod, and we ended the day with 11 lings for 11 anglers. Received reports that boats found salmon just outside the lower part of the Deep Reef in around 300 feet of water, and sounds like several went home with limits and others still had darn good scores. Amazing what just a little good weather will do, huh? We are currently scheduled for rockfishing every open day through the end of this month, but we may change our minds and throw a salmon trip in if the bite looks like it might continue for a while, so check back in a couple of days if you're interested.
Wednesday, May 17 - The saying goes that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Well, that about sums up how it's been the last two weeks. It is definitely one of the windiest springs we've had in a while. Even though it may be gorgeous on land, it hasn't been on the ocean, with way too much wind pretty much day in and day out keeping us tied to the dock except for two days the last two weeks. But thankfully it looks like someone finally banged the wind machine and got it unstuck from the "Blow" position it's been at. We look in good shape at this point for the weekend and might even be able to squeek out on this Friday if it shapes up right. Hopefully the rockfish will be hungry and waiting for us.
Thursday, May 4 - The weather gods turned off the wind machine today and yesterday allowing us to get back to the rockfish grounds. Today was the best of the two days with the calmest weather and in turn the best fishing. It was an enjoyable and productive day on the water with 25 guys bagging limits of some excellent quality rockfish (vermillions up to scale verified 8 pounds) along with 27 lingcod to 12 pounds. Wednesday's weather turned sour midday when the wind picked up but everyone was still able to bring limits of rockfish home and a bonus of 6 lingcod. The winds are gunna start cranking back up tonight, and it's gunna get downright rotten for at least a few days again. We've already cancelled our trips for Friday and Saturday and are waiting and watching the forecasts real close for our next break.
Monday, May 1 - We've only had about three decent days of weather on the ocean for the past three weeks. The rain faucet may have finally been turned down, but someone turned the fan on full blast. It's been howling more often than not making for pretty tough days on most of those we've been able to make and keeping us tied to the dock for the rest. On the few days with decent conditions, we've seen good fishing including one day where 40 lingcod were landed. We can't emphasize enough that you HAVE to use heavy sinkers for the newly opened deeper water if you want to have a chance to catch anything. These fish hang out right at the bottom; we've needed a minimum of 12 to 16 ounce sinkers, and, even then, you have to work to keep those down, letting out more line to stay in contact and then resetting by reeling up and starting over. The reward is some bomber rockfish...and probably a few new muscles by days end. On the salmon front, the final regulations were adopted mid-April, and, after a two week closure between May 1 through 14 off the Bay Area coastline, the salmon season will be open from May 15 through October 31 with the minimum size reduced from 24 down to 20 inches. We did make out out two days for salmon during April, landing a couple the first day and then finding fairly decent action the next, with 12 folks onboard hooking 29 salmon and taking home 6 keepers. The weather forecast is calling for the winds to finally back off for this Wednesday and Thursday, so we'll be back out rockfishing both days.
Monday, April 10 - Back on the water the last two days after being tied to the dock for the prior three days to let some springtime wind blow through. High winds are our biggest enemy on the ocean, not necessarily the size of the swell as a lot of folks think. The fish were a little shellshocked on Sunday, pale and lethargic at first, and then perked up as the day went on. Several people were down for the count early on in the day not doing well with the motion of the ocean, but the folks standing at the rail ended their day with fine sacks of quality rockfish and a few lings. With calm seas and more seafaring folks onboard on Monday, it was limits for all onboard along with 14 lingcod for 18 anglers. This Saturday the territory above Pigeon Point opens up for rockfishing out to the 40 fathom contour. If you notice, I did not say 240 feet like a lot of people think. The open territory is a straight line drawn between lat/long published waypoints. Some of that territory is deeper than 240 feet and a lot of it is less than 240 feet. If you venture out on your own, make sure you know where it's legal to fish and where it's still closed. We're looking forward to fishing areas that have been off limits for more than a decade.
Wednesday, April 5 - Another nice day on the water, and another good day of fishing. The lings were on the munch again, too, after a couple of days of calmer weather. Limits again today with more bomber rockfish and just a handful shy of limits of lingcod, 160 rockfish and 27 lingcod to 14 pounds for 16 anglers to be exact. What they'd catch them on you ask? Same story, different day: HMB super flies and squid. Not fancy, not exciting, but they work time and time again in our area. Beat your head against the wall and try other stuff if you want, but flies really are the way to go around here more often than not. Unfortunately the next weather system is headed our way and we've crossed off Thursday and Friday, and we're watching Saturday real close. As it stands right now, though, it looks like we're back in business by Sunday.
Tuesday, April 4 - With much calmer seas, we travelled down below Pigeon Point to the newly owned deeper water and again caught bunches of jumbo rockfish, fish the size of which folks haven't seen for a darn long time. By day end, we returned with limits for everyone onboard as well as four bonus lingcod. Again, you've gotta use the right size sinker, as in 16 ounces most of the time, to get down to where the fish are hanging out. There was a larger than expected swell that came through Sunday making for much tougher fishing than we saw Saturday, but Sunday still ended up with a very respectful score of around 8 rockfish were angler. We threw in the towel for Monday to let the swell peak and roll through and thankfully it laid back down for today, and it looks extremely nice for tomorrow. We're watching the forecast real close after that again; right now Sunday looks like the best day to go after tomorrow. As far as salmon, the Riptide that works out of our shop was out in some extremely rough weather around 10 miles off the coast on Sunday and ended up hooking 17 salmon for 8 anglers. Out of those 17 fish, they landed 5 keepers, lost 4 that probably would have made the park, and had 8 shakers (fish less than the 24 inch minimum size limit). Talking with private boaters that have been coming through the shop, they're finding fish off our coast, too, so it definitely sounds promising for salmon fishing along our part of ocean; all we need is to get decent weather on the day we're fishing for salmon and we'll keep our fingers crossed the fish gods will be smiling.
Saturday, April 1 - 2017 Opening Day has arrived! And, just like we were hoping, the quality of the rockfish now available in the newly opened areas is fantastic so far. Captain Bob called in a little before 9:30 a.m. and said those who were with the program already had at least four quality yellows (aka yellowtail rockfish) each in their bag, fish probably twice the size of what we saw last year. He said probably 5 or 6 lingcod have been landed as well, along with some nice vermillions and even some bomber boccaccio. By the end of the day they ended up with limits, 320 rockfish plus 22 lingcod to 14 pounds. He was fishing just inside the 50 fathom contour line below Pigeon Point and folks are going to have to get used to fishing this deeper water, which means break back out the heavy gear we put away years ago and pump up the lead. Spinning rods, nope. Four ounce weight, nope. Save that gear for fishing the shallows. The ticket for fishing deeper water means using conventional saltwater gear, 20 or 25 pound test, with 12 to 16 ounces of weight. Thankfully the wind that was howling all week backed off just like we were pretty sure it would late last night and we made it to the fishing grounds with no problem at all. Forecast looks as good if not better for tomorrow on Sunday. As far as salmon, I heard that two shakers, one 18 inches and the other 21 inches, were released within the first hour of putting the lines in the water about 5 miles off the radar towers. With a 24 inch minimum, it will take a real nice size fish to make it into the box, but at least it's now confirmed that there are at least a few fish swimming out in the waters off our coast. By days end there were salmon going home on a scattering of boats with a fish here and a fish there with the top boat landing three keepers. Compared to this time last year, that's a major improvement, and hopefully there's a school of keepers out there waiting to be found.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!