Calamari time off the coast |

Calamari time off the coast

El Nino years bring warmer waters up the California coastline and with the temperate seas unusual creatures tag along.

For the past 10 days there has been an exceptional Humboldt Squid fishery off the coast. These giant squid, up to 50 pounds, have been caught off Monterey, Half Moon Bay and Bodega Bay. The most impressive numbers have been coming from Bodega based boats. Sunday’s catch was 300 squid for 20 anglers on the “New Sea Angler.” The largest boat load was reported at 17,000 pounds brought in last week.

West out of Bodega Bay is a sea mount known as Cordell Banks. On the west side of the Banks, the squid have been located at the 400-foot depth. The technique has been to jig the bottom with heavy hex bars. Once the first squid has been hooked and is being pumped up to the surface, the entire school of squid will follow. The school will bite voraciously on many different lures providing fast action.

If you go, dress for the occasion. These squid, when landed, discharge large volumes of water as well as the “ink” they have as a defensive mechanism. It can be a gooey mess with these critters all over the deck. Your best bet is to wear dark colored rain gear. It will keep you some what dry and not show the stains as much.

It is an unusual adventure to fish for Humboldt Squid but another question to consider is, what will you do with 300 pounds of calamari? Most salt water fisheries are closed this time of year and it was serendipitous that these squid were even located. This could be one of a few opportunities in a lifetime to take advantage of this.

Last week, many of the duck clubs in the Feather River drainage dumped their winter water into the river, clouding it up. This put the striper bite off a bit. I fished the Star Bend area Sunday afternoon without success.

There were plenty of juvenile steelhead in shallow water off the beaches, but no stripers were feeding on them. We were driven off the water by rain in the late afternoon. It is legal to fish at night and this is when the largest fish have been landed. A lot of boat traffic puts the fish down when the river is this low. The evening bite might have as much to do with boat traffic as it does with low light conditions.

The stripers will stay in the Feather as long as the steelhead are present.

A side note: Bob Chapell, a friend from Penn Valley, stopped at the bridge over the Feather River in Nicholas. He fished with night crawlers hoping for stripers but did catch a 17-inch rainbow trout last week.

Saturday the fishing was good at Scott’s Flat Lake. Three different boats from the Gold Country Bassmasters Club members were on the lake. Fishing was good in 10- to 20 feet of water on rip baits, tube baits, and other soft plastics. The bass were a mix of species and the bite continued from late morning into the afternoon. The water temps have not come above the mid-40s but the fish were active.

News from the big fishing derby at Pyramid Lake, Nevada has the first place fish weighing in at 11 pounds, 7 ounces, with the next three places all above 9 pounds each.

The derby resumes next weekend. Visit for more information.


Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. He may be reached via e-mail at

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